The Works, a non-profit engineering discovery center, had a modified ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, November 4, 2011 at its new location in Bloomington at 9740 Grand Ave. S. Instead of cutting a ribbon, The Works staff attached a bucket to a bridge made of pasta and filled it with sand to test the strength of the bridge. Invited guests like the Chamber of Commerce, School Board representatives and city officials, applauded when the bridge snapped, marking the ceremonial opening of The Works.
Guests toured the new 45,000 square foot home of the engineering discovery center complete with interactive exhibits and activities for children grades kindergarten through sixth. The Works new location has four times the space of the former facility in the Edina Community Center. Some might remember the white building when it was home to Globe Travel Agency or Northwestern Bell.
The Works opens to the public at its Grand Opening on Saturday, November 12, 2011. Outdoor activities begin at 9:00 a.m. with a surprise at 10:00 a.m. Admission is half price, $3 per person, and hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visitors can design a catapult, take home a sound sandwich and have their face painted.
In the past fifteen years the Works has served over 250,000 people. In its new location it can accommodate 150,000 visitors annually. The Works can also come to schools, community centers and libraries. CEO Jill Measells said, “In the next couple of years (we) expect to serve 200,000 a year as we grow into our new home.”
Its president, Rebecca Shatz, founded the Works in 1987. On her LinkedIn page she states, “The Works exists to give every child a taste of engineering, a hands-on experience being an engineer for a while. When a child builds a project at The Works, she learns more than the science behind it, she learns that she, too, can make a motor, a polymer, a skyscraper, a solar car. That child learns that he/she can make a difference.”
At the ceremony, a statement from U.S. Senator Al Franken was read. Franken said, “As a strong advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education in our state and across our nation I want to recognize the extraordinary efforts of The Works in being a leader with hands on engineering for kids. Through out my travels in Minnesota I hear from hi-tech businesses that jobs are going unfilled because people don’t have the technological skills they need to fill them. Which is why I have sponsored legislation in the U.S. Senate that will help maintain our nations competitive technological edge and promote S.T.E.M. Education.”
Mayor Gene Winstead also welcomed The Works to Bloomington and its new facility and said, “…somebody had an idea once upon a time and that idea was taken and turned into innovation and that innovation is something that grew. Major companies have formed because of that. Maybe we will create a new Medtronics …and it all can start at a place like The Works.”
In addition to the gallery of activities and exhibits at the new home, building a bridge out of pasta and hot glue is one example of the many workshops offered by The Works for educators and their students. The Works is described as part museum, part workshop, part resource center, part playground, and all about kids and active, engaging, hands-on engineering.