Building a smarter city, SPARK City encourages collaboration and teamwork to maintain a safe and happy city. You need to fix the leaking pipes, alleviate a traffic jam, and manage the power station. Don't forget to check in on the residents and ensure they have the necessary infrastructure!
Run! There is a leak in the pipes. Find the handle for that pipe and turn it. Oh no! The traffic is turning yellow. Go ride the bike to free up the roadways.
SPARK City is a fully integrated game with a lot of movement from each piece of the exhibit. You need to plan what problem to solve first: power station, water pipes, traffic jam, or unhappy residents, and then complete the necessary tasks. At the power station, the small knobs need turning, a fine motor skill. Children must ensure the knobs are pointing to a clean energy source for the green light to stay on. The water pipes will spring a leak and the wheels have to be turned, a gross motor skill, to stop the leak and keep the residents' homes dry. Traffic jams can be resolved by riding the bike, a gross motor skill, or solving the table-top maze with the magnet wand, a fine motor skill. Finally, the residents will speak about what they need after the button is pressed on the lit-up resident tile, and then a corresponding building tile is placed in the "vacant lot" next to them.
Each part of SPARK City requires motor planning to achieve the goal of the game. Fine motor skills are used to grab the wheels or pick up the tiles. When the city starts to degrade and needs repair, gross motor skills are used to move quickly to keep the lights from turning red!
The LEGO table also uses motor planning and fine motor skills. Placing bricks together and making them stick takes the small finger muscles working as intended and the strength to stick pieces together.
This is a collaborative exhibit that will best be played with several children working together. This provides opportunities for communication and problem solving with peers that a child may or may not have known before their museum visit. There are opportunities to listen, share information, and learn how the game works together. The game is geared toward older children who can think about the needs of their city and how they want to support the pretend city. As SPARK City workers, children can wear hard hats and vests while making necessary repairs. This allows children to be fully immersed in the experience as they have a pretend play component along with the more sophisticated play of the smart city.
Many of the artistic elements of SPARK City are based on known buildings in Rochester. Look around the landscape and building details and see if you can guess which buildings were used as inspiration during the design process.
There is also a tablet station where children can design things that fly, drive, and buildings to be displayed on the wall. With each piece of artwork, a child has contributed to the decoration on the LEGO wall in SPARK City. This allows children to be part of the museum and decide how they want their car or bird to be colored. They can design a building once and admire it or go through the process several times to see their work change.
The children can take SPARK City a step further artistically with the city table. When a resident asks for a library or restaurant, the tile is very plain, they could then go draw and design their own restaurant to "build" for fun. The tile will solve the problem for the game, but it could also be used as an artistic starter for what to design on paper.
Wow, the city is full of SMOG! I wonder where all that smog is coming from!
Take a look at the wall. What is generating power for the city? Oh no, it is a lot of petroleum factories. We can have some petroleum factories powering our city, but when they are our only source of power the air of the city gets dirty. Spark your curiosity and discover why a single source of power isn't great for a city, or why we need more renewable options for power to keep the air clean. What is the refinement process like? How does that impact the air we breathe? These are all science questions you can talk about at the power station and outside when you see where the power comes from in your life.
Listen while the children play and you will hear their addition and number practice in conversation during the game. "I have fixed that pipe three times!" or "We are using two windmills and one petroleum station." As children play, they reinforce math concepts such as addition and subtraction. Every opportunity to practice counting and adding will support their school experiences and support their rote memory.
Scripts to Try
"I wonder what you will create with LEGO's today? I am going to make a house!"
"I heard the resident ask for an eatery, I wonder what that is?"
"It looks like the water is leaking! Who will go fix it?"
"You are working so hard to move the ball through the maze! I wonder if holding the magnet differently changes how hard or easy it is to move?"
"Oh wow, I am noticing when you turn the power dial the light is changing colors! I wonder why?"