Duke Energy Foundation grant to help Conner Prairie create maker space initiative
Director of Public Relations
FISHERS, Ind. (Monday, May 23, 2016/Conner Prairie) – A supportive grant has been awarded by the foundation of a North Carolina-based energy company that serves central Indiana to one of the most-visited outdoor history museums in the U.S. to create what’s widely known as a maker’s space.
Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to Conner Prairie in Fishers to help establish a new maker’s program set to debut in phases starting later this year. It is the company’s latest endeavor to support the museum, the most recent being a $250,000 award to help fund the year-round, STEM-focused exhibit Create.Connect that opened in 2014.
The grant will help Conner Prairie develop and prototype programming, create temporary venues to implement and evaluate its programs and provide continued learning opportunities for teachers that focus on how the making movement supports STEM learning. The grant will also help the museum build a permanent maker space that will feature year-round programming and maker-oriented school programs that meet or exceed Indiana’s educational standards.
“This emphasis on connecting our past to the present, together with our long legacy of promoting historic trades and crafts, makes us the ideal institution to launch a maker initiative in central Indiana,” said Conner Prairie President and CEO Norman O. Burns. “This effort draws inspiration from the historic trades of blacksmithing and pottery already alive at Conner Prairie and offers chances for visitors to use historic and modern tools and equipment to pursue their maker-related interests.”
The popularity and growth of the maker movement has led to the creation of numerous maker spaces in museums, schools and community centers throughout the nation where people can learn about and work with real tools and materials while engaging in in-depth, authentic experiences. More importantly, they learn something about themselves – what inspires them, how to work through problems and how to share what they learn with others.
“Education for people of all ages is a key area of emphasis for the Duke Energy Foundation,” said Mark LaBarr, Duke Energy Foundation’s government and community relations manager for Hamilton County. “The maker program at Conner Prairie ties in nicely with our support of STEM-related initiatives and will help people discover the hidden maker within themselves.”
Maker experiences fit naturally with Conner Prairie’s focus on historic trades, hands-on experiences, free-choice learning and integrating history and STEM, Burns said. Since its founding, the museum has offered authentic experiences to visitors of all ages. Over the past decade, Conner Prairie has also focused on experiences that blend history with science, technology, engineering and math to show how STEM impacted yesterday, how it helps shape today and how it affects society’s future.
“At the heart of making is the motivation to build something instead of buying it,” Burns said. “It is the spirit that drives us as a people to tinker, do things ourselves, explore, figure out how things work and make things better, different or unique. Conner Prairie has successfully highlighted STEM principles throughout its experiences and maker activities will complement our efforts further.”
Spanning 800 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes nearly 390,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.
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Conner Prairie's mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Created by Eli Lilly in 1934, Conner Prairie combines history with science, technology, engineering and math and encourages visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiences. Inspiring visitors of all ages to discover more about the events, discoveries and forces that shaped the American Midwest, Conner Prairie offers various historically themed, indoor and outdoor experience areas throughout its 800 acres of wooded property in Fishers, Ind. Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth. Visit connerprairie.org or call (800) 966-1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate and volunteer. Conner Prairie is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.