If play is the work of childhood — as Fred Rogers once said — then kids, welcome to your new office.
At imagiFAB, a brand-new exhibit at Raleigh-based children’s museum Marbles, visitors can explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) concepts through hands-on play and learning. After years of research, collaboration, and preparation, imagiFAB finally opened to the public on September 29, 2021!
An Exhibit Five Years in the Making
The first ideas for imagiFAB began five years ago, in October 2017, when Marbles received a federal grant to build an exhibit supporting hands-on STEAM learning that highlights diversity and representation across underrepresented groups. Many children’s museums have Learning or Exhibit teams that spend months or even years preparing materials, conducting research, and prototyping to deliver the best possible museum experience possible, and Marbles is no different. Their team took 18+ months to create an inclusive space for STEAM play, including a visual display that showcases potential STEAM career paths, both in NC and farther afield.
The exhibit incorporates four main areas for exploration: Create, Make, Build, and Animate. The entire second floor of the museum provides an immersive, collaborative space for kids of all ages to learn through play, and maybe even imagine themselves as a future engineer, artist, or creator.
Marbles and Nugget Team Up
From our play-based product to our North Carolina manufacturing roots, Nugget is a natural partner for a STEAM exhibit in Raleigh, NC But our partnership with Marbles is based on more than similar values and missions — it’s built upon a long-standing community relationship too.
We first teamed up with Marbles in 2016, when we presented about Nugget alongside other businesses at the Future Me Fair, a day-long job fair for kids. The next year, we organized play events with Nuggets on the museum’s first floor, and even donated Nuggets for use across the museum! So when we learned about imagiFAB, we jumped at the chance to help collaboratively design a play-focused space with the wonderful Marbles team.
Our product design team brought their expertise around open-ended play design – how kids would engineer and tinker in the space – as well as the look and feel of the exhibit, including color palette direction. The space includes Nuggets for play, of course, but there are a number of other exhibit areas and activities to encourage STEAM exploration and play.
An Intentional Approach
The intentionality and research that underpins imagiFAB extends beyond the physical play space. We firmly believe that all children deserve to see themselves represented in society, to lift up their dreams and empower them to achieve all that they desire. Frustratingly, careers in STEAM fields are more difficult for women and kids of color to access, due to a large number of factors, including financial insecurity and a lack of role models; even when women and people of color do access STEAM careers, they are challenged daily in ways that others often can’t grasp, which only further undermines confidence while building up imposter syndrome.
This exhibit aims to change that narrative for kids from their first explorations of STEAM play. The space is accessible for children of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, incorporating extensive research conducted by the Marbles team to ensure that the space is culturally relevant, collaborative, and supportive. One key element is the STEAM exhibit wall, which highlights local professionals in STEAM careers, including our very own Product Designer, Ghenwa Triaki.
“As a child in Damascus, Syria, I loved inspecting kitchen gadgets and taking apart toys to see how they worked. I didn't know as a kid that this tinkering was actually a field I could work in – Product Design – but fortunately, when I moved to the US in 2013, I discovered the Industrial Design program at NC State and ended up being one of only 18 admitted students.
There aren’t many women across my field in general, so it’s really easy to feel intimidated or out of place, especially coming from another country. It was not an easy journey for me but I worked hard and had a strong support system of incredible professors and colleagues. I am honored to be able to share my story with young children who may come from a similar background to let them know that anything is possible.”
An Exciting Launch for imagiFAB
The three-year exhibit is an exciting milestone for Nugget. “When we were just beginning our journey of open-ended, imaginative play, Marbles was one of the first places to open its doors and give the product a try,” said Nugget’s Chief Creative Officer, Hannah Elly.
“To get the opportunity to work together just a few years later on an exhibit like imagiFAB — one that aligns so closely with the exploration, curiosity and wonder that inspired us back then — is definitely a full-circle moment.”
Learn more at marbleskidsmuseum.org and visit for yourself! We can’t wait to see Nuggeteers exploring the space and daydreaming about future STEAM careers right here in North Carolina.