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Toyota Opens STEAM PARK at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

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STEAM PARK wide shot
Photo: Toyota

Toyota wants kids to get into STEM so much that it has opened a new, interactive engineering gallery at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum called STEAM PARK. Why the all caps? We’ve got no clue. It’s aimed at kids, though, and we all know how much kids love to shout. (Editor’s note: I have now learned about Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math. The more you know!)

Consisting of 23 individual exhibits, STEAM PARK was created in collaboration with Toyota engineers to promote hands-on engagement. The main attraction is one all of the exhibits share: the ability to show the mechanical workings of machines thanks to the use of clear plexiglass.

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“Imagine discovering the inner workings of a 17th century time switch clock or gazing at a 16-foot-tall ball maze within a beautiful arched window in Ann Arbor’s original firehouse,” the automaker teases in a press release. Mel Drumm, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, says he hopes that the “immersive and interactive” experience of the STEAM PARK will “spark interest and inspire youth to explore the engineered world.”

Toyota made the gallery’s creation possible by investing $1.5 million via Toyota USA Foundation and Toyota Motor North America. The automaker has been operating in Ann Arbor for nearly two decades and has collaborated with the museum, which gets about 400,000 visits per year, on a number of occasions.

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STEAM PARK 16 Ft Ball Maze
Photo: Toyota

“Through new connected, automated and electrification technologies, we are trying to solve some of the world’s most critical problems, but we can’t do it alone,” said Jeff Makarewicz, group vice president and Toyota USA Foundation director. “We need to inspire the next generation of innovators and problem solvers, and that is what STEAM PARK does.”

In addition to opening the park, Toyota is also working with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum to renovate its preschool gallery, in the process of which it will be renamed to STEAM PLAY.