A science center thrives because of inviting exhibits, but also because it’s valued as a community amenity. A beneficial cycle begins with repeat attendance and volunteer support, providing financial support that pours back into the center. At Science City, the Burns & McDonnell Foundation is giving that beneficial process a kick-start with Battle of the Brains, a multimillion dollar grant program.
Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains is Kansas City’s most exciting K-12 STEM competition, with a premise that’s wholly unique. Metro area schools earn a piece of the $155,000-plus grant for STEM education by dreaming up an exhibit concept for Science City — and one school sees their idea come to life in a $1 million exhibit. The benefit to the community is two-fold: promoting STEM education and adding new innovative exhibits to Science City.
So far, more than 18,000 students in 55 school districts have benefited from this immersive educational opportunity. The competition has produced four interactive exhibits: Science of Energy, Genetics: Unlock the Code, Every Last Drop and Simple Machines at Play. The Burns & McDonnell Foundation has also invested in two additional exhibits — Science on a Sphere and the Burns & McDonnell Engineerium.
These additions have made a difference at Science City, helping to boost attendance by 84 percent and encouraging thousands of visitors each year to explore STEM topics. Students and teachers are sharing rave reviews about Science City as a place where learning and fun happen in equal measure.
“Students aren’t creating a product for a hypothetical environment or ’playing’ at being scientists. They must make a plan for a REAL product that will be right down the street from them should they win.”
Jennifer Thomas, Turner High School