Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ford Celebrates Innovation with Major Donation to Smithsonian Spark!Lab Program in Honor of 150th Anniversary of Birth of Its Founder

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 31, 2013 – Ford Motor Company Fund today announced a $500,000 contribution to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and its Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The funds will be used to support and expand the Spark!Lab program challenging kids to create, collaborate and invent. The donation is part of Ford’s ongoing commitment to innovation and honors the legacy of founder Henry Ford; the anniversary of the company founder’s 150th birthday occurs this year on July 30.
“My great-grandfather Henry Ford knew as well as anyone how truly rewarding the invention process can be,” said Edsel B. Ford II, who is a board member of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. “Ford is proud to support programs like Spark!Lab, which encourages kids to use and condition their creative minds so they can become the next generation of great American innovators.”
Designed to look and feel like an inventor’s workshop, Spark!Lab incorporates traditional math and science activities and infuses art, music and creativity along with social interaction to form a space where children and their families engage in the invention process.
The Ford Motor Company Fund contribution will support renovations to the existing Spark!Lab exhibit under way at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In addition, the contribution will enable the creation of three additional satellite Spark!Lab workshops, of which Ford will be the sole sponsor, in soon-to-be-announced museum locations – part of the Spark!Lab National Network. This grant is the latest in Ford’s partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, which dates back nearly 40 years.
“Innovation has been central to Ford’s philosophy and mission,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Ford Fund is pleased to lend our support to this worthwhile program, which truly embodies the spirit of innovation championed by Henry Ford and the company he built.”
“It has never been more important to develop a future generation of inventive thinkers and problem solvers,” said John Gray, director of the National Museum of American History. “This generous contribution by Ford Motor Company Fund will allow the museum’s Lemelson Center to bring Spark!Lab’s playful approach to children in the nation’s capital and around the country, inspiring inventive creativity in young minds.”
From the Model T and moving assembly line to the latest electrified vehicles, Ford has been on the leading edge of leveraging technology to improve mobility for the masses for more than a century. Ford recently earned a spot on Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators list, and through initiatives like its Employee Patent Incentive Awards, encourages engineers and researchers to think outside the box for new solutions. At the 2013 Washington Auto Show, Ford will showcase several of its latest product innovations that deliver industry-leading fuel efficiency and driver assistance benefits. 
“In everything we do, we are honoring the legacy of Henry Ford,” said Ziad Ojakli, Ford Motor Company group vice president of Government and Community Relations. “Ford’s commitment to innovation is part of our DNA.”
Ford and the museum’s Lemelson Center are sponsoring a “pop-up” Spark!Lab at the Washington Auto Show on the first three days of the public opening – Friday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 3, so families attending can experience the invention process. The workshop will offer three different exercises: “Invent a Vehicle,” challenging visitors to work together to build a car of the future; “Pasta Concept Car Challenge,” where visitors experience the ups and downs of the invention process with a car made of pasta; and “Soundscapes,” which involves marbles to create music and sound pathways.
For more on the Smithsonian Spark!Lab workshop and national program, visit

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