Museum Event Provides Education for Children and Visibility for Partner I.B.M.

By Mitra Sorrells January 26, 2011, 9:40 AM EST

Photo: Juerg Schreiter for BizBash

For the third year in a row, I.B.M. partnered with the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale for its ”Design Squad: Built It Challenge” on Saturday and Sunday. The company said its involvement serves two purposes: to get children excited about careers in engineering and to give the company exposure in the area.

“South Florida doesn’t have a lot of visibility like other parts of the country where we have headquarters located,” said Samine Jernigan, an I.B.M. manager who oversees the museum partnership. “We used to have a bigger physical presence, but now a lot of our staff work from home offices, so getting out to these events lets people know ‘Hey, we’re still here.’”

More than 1,200 children and adults attended the event, which offered hands-on activities inspired by the public television series Design Squad. Museum program coordinator Michael Aguinaga created the annual event three years ago after attending a workshop sponsored by the program.

Throughout the weekend, museum staff and I.B.M. volunteers helped guests try eight challenges, including building catapults, zip lines, and kinetic sculptures. There were also two “family showdowns” each day, pitting teams of children and parents against each other to build a table using only newspaper and masking tape that could support up to 50 pounds.

“I.B.M. realizes that the earlier we are able to reach children to get them focused on and excited about careers in engineering and mathematics, the more likely they are to pursue those areas of study,” said Jernigan.

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