Editor’s note: The Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh is working with ABB, which operates its U.S. headquarters in Cary, to help educate children about smartgrid technology. Sarah Hall, editor of WRAL’s GoAskMom blog, has the details.

RALEIGH, N.C. – On Wednesday, Marbles and ABB, a company focusing on power and automation technology, announced a multi-year investment in the downtown Raleigh museum to develop a new exhibit called a “Kid Grid,” which will feature playful activities in a pretend power grid. It’s the first of its kind in the country, according to Marbles.

The first check for $100,000 was presented to the museum today. It’s the first installment of a seven-year pledge.

The new exhibit, which is still in the design phase and will open in 2014, will take over what is now a second floor outdoor courtyard facing Hargett Street and overlooking Moore Square. The project includes enclosing the space with glass, making the new exhibit highly visible.

On the inside of the museum, the exhibit will be near Power 2 Play.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on the exhibit’s design, but early plans call for three pieces:

generation stations where kids can learn about power production and what it takes to keep up with demand;
a section focusing on transmission lines where kids can visually understand how power flows and work as a team to keep energy levels up;
and energy use action stations where they can recognize the cause-and-effect of energy use and make decisions to balance the grid.
In addition to the donation, ABB, which has a couple of its headquarters in Raleigh and Cary and offices around the state and world, will provide the engineering expertise to ensure accuracy of the grid and will supply some equipment such as motors, towers, underground cables, transformers and control systems.

Children of ABB employees are among the group working on design concepts to make sure it’s educational, but also fun.

The announcement was made at this morning’s Big Idea Forum at Marbles. The new exhibit will allow the very busy museum, which just celebrated its fifth birthday on Saturday, with some much needed room to grow.

Some press release quotes from the officials:

“Kid Grid at Marbles, presented by ABB, is going to ‘wow’ children, students and families and inspire interest in power and energy,” Marbles President Sally Edwards said. “Marbles is thrilled to partner with an established leader in our nation’s energy industry.”

“We believe that the engineers ABB will employ and the customers we will serve in 2040 are playing at Marbles today,” said Anders Sjoelin, ABB Inc. President Power System Division. “ABB is proud to invest in the next generation through Kid Grid. Marbles Kids Museum is one of the reasons why the Triangle is a great place to live, work and visit.”

I’m looking forward to seeing this exhibit come together and sharing the details!