As a way of encouraging younger generations to become engineers, ABB has partnered with Marbles Kids Museum to launch Kid Grid, a play-based power grid exhibit geared to generate children’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

The exhibit, funded by a $1 million grant from ABB, opened in early June and is located at the museum in Raleigh, NC.

According to ABB, the grid seeks to introduce children to electricity and power grid technology through “hands-on, minds-on play” creating interest in STEM education. The exhibit is filled with play versions of cables, control systems, motors, towers and transformers, as well as real equipment provided by ABB which collaborated with the museum in the design phase.

Company officials highlighted the need for the grid by pointing out declining performance from high school students in the US compared with other nations. According to ABB, in 2012, students from 29 industrialized nations outperformed the US in math, and 22 did the same in science.

“Although Kid Grid is unique to North Carolina, the concept shouldn’t be,” says Greg Scheu, CEO of ABB North America. “STEM-focused industries are growing both nationally and internationally. We need to stay competitive as a nation and encourage kids to explore these areas in new and creative ways.”

According to STEM Advantage, a non-profit coalition, STEM-related jobs in the US are anticipated to increase by nearly 17 percent over the next decade and more than 60 percent of those jobs will require a college degree or higher. Only a third of US bachelor’s degrees are in a STEM field, with many of the degrees earned by foreign students.

“It is our hope that by engaging children at a young age, we can inspire them for a lifetime,” says Scheu.