Bakken Museum

Bakken Museum: "Grounded in the past, Wired for the Future.." at the Bakken there are things to do for every kid, from building robots, creating art-work that utilizes a form of green energy, to the "Passport to Invention Program," field trips and science work-shops. Find out about the Bakken's "Gadgetorium" and the "Meet the Makers Program."


PHL- What would a list of favorite or commonly used materials include in the inventor's workshop?

Bakken - Students like to use familiar materials, so we are well stocked with wood, foam, and cardboard as core building materials. Pink insulating foam turns out to be a surprisingly versatile building material. It is strong enough to make a good base material, it is easy to cut and shape, plus it floats which is a bonus. Of course of a museum rooted in the history of electricity and magnetism we have lots of circuit building materials. Buckets full of batteries, bulbs, motors, and wires. Almost every project that comes out of the workshop has at least one electrical feature.

PHL- From building to designing programs that make robots move, what do kids love the most about creating their own Lego Robot?

Bakken- Customization! We have all the students start by building a basic robot and learning a few basic concepts to program and control the robot. Once they understand the basics, a world of possibilities open up. Some students dive into the programming and figure out creative and clever ways to control the robot. Other students get really excited about building the robot and finding unique and better ways to construct their robot.

PHL-What's the Science Assets™ residency program at the Bakken? Tell us a about it and how kids can get involved.

Bakken-Science Assets™ are the attitudes, knowledge, and skills that inspire a passion for science and prepare students for life after school – both in terms of job opportunities and civic engagement. These Science Assets™ are related to confidence/identity, support, creative thinking skills, and science relevancy. Science assets are built into all of the programs we offer at The Bakken. We have a specific outreach program that works with teachers to bring these skills and mindsets into the classroom through fun, hands-on multiday workshops.

 PHL-Tell us more about the Green Energy Art Garden and how can kids get involved in working with local artists to create an artwork which utilizes some form of green energy?


Bakken-The Green Energy Art Garden has been an evolving project that we have been doing for a number of years here at The Bakken. The goal of the project is show just how much overlap there is between the skills of artists and engineers. Both require a great deal of problem solving and creativity. Our latest iteration involved working with local artist Daniel Dean to create a solar powered sculpture that would help bring awareness of our general public visiting the museum. We saw this as an opportunity to share a unique, real-world experience with some of our older students so put together a team. With Daniel's as the lead the team brainstormed, designed, fabricated, troubleshot, and install the project on our green rooftop for the summer.

PHL- What's the Meet the Makers program and what are some of the interesting ways makers interact like using game play and drawing?

Bakken- We are fortunate to live in a community full of people doing so many incredibly interesting things. These makers (inventors/engineers/artists) share stories or prototypes of their project with our young inventors. These makers has some a passion for their projects that it contagious and it can really get the kids excited to get back into the workshop and keep working hard on their own projects. It's really great when makers share their stories of failure and persistence or bring in their first prototype and the kids can relate and see that they share the same curiosity.

                                                                                            Allison's Marble Run

 PHL-Tell us more about the Passport to Invention program, field trips and the Summer Science Workshops and how kids can be involved?


Bakken- Here at The Bakken we have a number of great programs to get kids making and inventing. During the school year we host the Inventors Club where students work with mentors to design and build their own project. Every Thursday evening we host the Passport to Invention, a drop in program for students to work in the workshop on any project they want. Some kids come once in a while other kids are here every week. Either way they are welcome to come in and use the tools and materials. During the summer, we offer week long summer camps where students use the tools and materials in the workshop to design and build their own project. For classroom groups we have a variety of field trips to explore science through historical stories and hands-on experiments. The best part of our programs is that the students almost always get to take their work home with them.
You can learn more about all of youth programs on our website

PHL- Technology, engineering and math and how to power the future for the "social good" are behind the programs at the Bakken. Are local industries involved in some of the great programs offered at the Bakken?

 Bakken- We have great support from local companies. They involve themselves with the Bakken in a number of various ways. We receive financial support from a handful of local organizations. Others support us donating equipment and materials, or by volunteering their time to support the museum as Invention Program mentors, board members, and lots of ways in-between. We also have a number of collaborative projects such as the development and refinement of outreach kits with 3M's Visiting Wizards. We are also collaborating on some offsite camps that give campers insight into what some of the more innovative do. We also have the pleasure of partnering with a lot of great organization at our onsite events. Many industry leaders, big and small, share programming with our visitors.




PHL-What is the Solarsonicinfinity System, the Bakken's new project with local artist Daniel Dean all about?

Bakken- Solarsonicinfinitysystem is the result of our Artist in Residence initiative. Daniel Dean worked with a group of Bakken invention program students to create an art piece showcasing some form of renewable energy. Collaboratively they settled on building a piece that used solar power to generate sounds in a variety of ways. The sounds mimic those that one might encounter in nature, such as insect buzzes and bird chirps. To house the circuity, they then built a structure which was on display on our green roof at the museum throughout the summer and fall of 2014. On the museum's web page we have a video of piece and the artist who worked together on it. the


PHL- Do computers and circuitry play the biggest roles in programming and making things move for most projects at the Bakken?

 Bakken - All most all the projects that come out of the workshop have some element of circuitry incorporated into it. Many of our students like to make things that move, like a car, boat or robot, especially for a first project. Other projects use lights or buzzers. Regardless we go through a lot of batteries here at The Bakken. As students get a little older, and find themselves with a little more experience and confidence they will try more interesting and complicated circuits. Often these students will investigate integrated circuits or programming microcontrollers.


PHL- The Bakken's Gadgetorium's projects are amazing like the Conductivity Tester that gauges if someone is not telling the truth by how much they sweat, or the Sound Car that programs dissimilar sounds to make a car move in different directions. How do kids get involved in becoming a Gagetorium participant?

Bakken - We like to showcase some of the work done by the participants in our invention programs so we are always on the lookout for interesting student projects. Almost every year we feature students and their projects from our programs in our exhibits. This serves as a very empowering opportunity for our students who get to share their work and enthusiasm with over 10,000 general visitors over a year. Students are often the best advocates of why students should get interested in STEM activities.

All Q & A responses from Justin Spencer and André Phillips


                                                                                        Hershen's Ball Shooter