Tech Lab

An artist’s rendering shows the tech lab at the FACTORY, part of the KidSenses Interactive Museum. Facebook granted $300,000 toward the lab’s expansion.

RUTHERFORDTON — Facebook has gifted KidSenses Children’s Interactive Museum with a $300,000 grant for its Tech Lab expansion at the FACTORY.

KidSenses Children’s Interactive Museum announced Facebook’s grant late Wednesday, which supports the organization’s capital campaign for The FACTORY, which includes a 2,000-square foot Tech Lab, a hands-on, advanced maker space for children.

The Tech Lab is one of four zones of engagement in the FACTORY, which will provide access to advanced technologies for kids 11 and up to explore, imagine and create. They can bring to life the projects they imagine using computers, 3-D printers, laser cutters, robots and other advanced technologies they may not have access to anywhere else. When completed, the museum campus will consist of 27,000-square-feet of wwexciting interactive exhibits and programs.

“Community is a powerful word,” said Willard Whitson, executive director of the KidSenses Children’s Interactive Museum. “At KidSenses we are committed to bettering the lives of children by offering opportunities for personal growth and empowerment in fun, stimulating learning environments.

“We could not succeed in our endeavors were it not for strong community support both financially and programmatically,” Whitson continued. “Facebook’s significant contribution ensures that we can grow the museum by building a new addition — The FACTORY, and increase the number of children we serve by engaging youth in their teens. Empowered youth help make our community stronger and healthier.”

The donation from Facebook underscores the demand in the community for this advanced maker space for kids.

“Facebook is thrilled to deepen its partnership with KidSenses by supporting this imaginative project,” said Katie Comer, community development regional manager for Facebook. “The FACTORY’s advanced maker space will help ignite children’s imaginations, develop their technical skills and seed a long-term interest in STEM technology careers, and Facebook is proud to help bring this experience to our community.”

Facebook has been part of the western North Carolina community since breaking ground on the Forest City Data Center in 2010. For more information, visit facebook.com/ ForestCityDataCenter/.

About The FACTORYThe FACTORY is a hands-on maker space where youth will become part of an environment where they can have ideas, meet friends and make cool things. This interactive maker space features tools and technologies such as Laser Cutters, 3-D Printers, Computers and CNC-Robots. Our maker space technicians and guides will help transform ideas into reality through fun hands-on project experiences.

THE FACTORY is a new division of KidSenses, which is designed for youth ages 11 and up. A $2.4 million-dollar capital campaign has been launched to secure a permanent home for THE FACTORY. Phase 2 construction commences next month.