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New exhibit at Lawrence Hall of Science helps youths learn engineering skills

Design Quest offers family fun, education in solving designing challenges.

A new exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley that opens tomorrow provides young people with a platform for generating ideas and designing, building and testing their creations.

Called Design Quest, the exhibit offers youths a chance to build prototypes, optimize them, and then get a chance to apply a process used by real engineers to solve problems.

"Design Quest is an expanded version of the Hall of Science's Ingenuity program that was first piloted a few years ago," said Gretchen Walker, Public Science Center Director. "We've been learning from visitors and working with engineers and UC Berkeley students to create an exhibit where kids as well as adults can have lots of fun solving challenges like real engineers."

Visitors to Design Quest can explore freely or try out the challenges written on Quest Cards throughout the exhibit. Exhibit activities include:

Automata - Create unique moving sculptures with motions determined by a lever system youths design.

Design and Drive - Combine wheels and treads to optimize model cars for climbing or for speed.

Stories -Tell a story with toys, cameras and a computer and create a short video using stop-motion animation.

Make Station - Create a traditional item using non-traditional materials and discover the many possibilities of a space that is part tinkerer's workshop and part artist's studio.

Ingenuity Studio- Prototype, play and explore engineering with friends and family or with UC Berkeley students, guest artists and expert makers.

Fly High - Create a "flying machine" and test it in vertical tubes of air.

Build a Bridge - Try building a bridge that won't snap or buckle. Use gesture controls to explore an interactive exhibit on the construction of the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The Hall connects engineers and college students with youths and parents to develop activities like those in Design Quest. Recently, engineers from Meyer Sound Laboratories and students in Alice Agogino's Mechanical Engineering Product Development course at UC Berkeley developed a sound challenge in which visitors built their own speakers and instruments in the Ingenuity Lab.

"Collaborating with engineers makes the activities and topics relevant and rewarding for all involved," said Jennifer Wang, a UC Berkeley doctoral student in the SESAME program (Studies in Engineering, Math and Science Education) , which has helped develop the Ingenuity program at the Hall over the past three years.

"It's a unique experience, and the families that visit play for hours getting their designs to work just they way they want them to," Wang added. " The Lawrence Hall of Science is creating similar experiences

in Design Quest's Ingenuity Studio."

The Design Quest exhibit is sponsored by ScholarShare College Savings Plan and by Chevron. A supporter of the Hall for many years, Chevron has provided funding that helped to seed the development of the Design Quest program. ScholarShare is a tax-advantaged way for families to save for college and has been a Hall sponsor for the past three years.

"We are proud to sponsor programs like Design Quest that get children excited about learning," said Zeny Agullana, executive director of ScholarShare. "Design Quest and ScholarShare both share the same goal: Inspiring children to become lifelong learners and be able to attend college."

The Hall of Science is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6--12. Children under 3, members, and UC Berkeley students and staff receive free admission. For more information on the exhibit, sign on to: lawrencehallofscience.org/designquest@berkeleyscience/ or call (510) 642-5132.

The exhibit will be featured at the Lawrence Hall of Science from June 1 through Sept. 2.

The Lawrence Hall of Science is located at One Centennial Drive, about half a mile from Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus.

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