A new STEM playground is opening in Brooklyn Bridge Park - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Oct. 10, 2016 12:00 pm

A new STEM playground is opening in Brooklyn Bridge Park

On Saturday, the Brooklyn Children's Museum is opening its first annex, called Spark.
Inside Spark, the new annex of Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Inside Spark, the new annex of Brooklyn Children's Museum.

(Courtesy photo)

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum has been located in Crown Heights since its founding in 1899. But on Saturday, it will be getting a new outpost in Dumbo — inside Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Today, the museum announced the opening of Spark, a 1,850-square-foot annex located at One John Street, which is within the park. Spark expands upon the museum’s Brooklyn Block Lab, a designated area for playing with building blocks, which is aimed at encouraging creative thinking and illuminating STEM concepts. The Block Lab at Spark will be located both indoors and outdoors, taking up some 1,500 square feet in total.

In addition to the Block Lab, Spark will include an art studio, a soft crawl space, and an area called the Discovery Den, which will feature a hands-on selection of the museum’s natural science collection — visitors will be able to touch and feel the specimens and artifacts. Spark will also offer morning classes for children, which will cost $300 per semester and require advance registration, in areas such as art and music and movement.

There’s obviously a strong educational element here, for both the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The museum debuted a pilot of its Block Lab program for schools last year at Bed-Stuy’s P.S. 54 last year. This year, it will continue that programming at Spark with P.S. 307, which is located just a few blocks away in Vinegar Hill. Spark also builds upon the park’s educational and cultural centers, which include St. Ann’s Warehouse and the Environmental Education Center of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.

The opening of Spark is just the latest example of how Brooklyn’s burgeoning tech scene is feeding into local schools. Organizations such as the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership have sought to bolster the borough’s tech pipeline through programs such as the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship Program, geared toward college students. Now, those efforts are trickling down to the grade-school level. As we reported last month, MakerBot has developed new educational tools to foster the same types of skills that Spark is seeking to promote, such as spatial reasoning and problem solving.

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Several of these efforts have brought together institutions from disparate fields, such as MakerBot’s partnerships with local schools. There’s similar collaboration at work in the development of Spark, which involved the work of Alloy Development, the developer of One John Street, in addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Partnerships like ours with Brooklyn Bridge Park exemplify the ways community groups can combine their strengths to further the missions of both organizations, to the benefit of both constituencies,” said Stephanie Wilchfort, the museum’s president, in a press release announcing Spark.

Beginning October 15, Spark will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is $15 for children and free for accompanying adults, except on Thursdays, which are free for everyone.

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