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Two New Big Exhibits Are Coming To Science City

December 8, 2014

Kristi Widmar
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Michael Tritt
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Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brain Winners, Leawood Elementary and Olathe North High School See their Winning Ideas Come to Life at Science City


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Dec. 10, 2014) – For more than 10 months, a cross functional team of engineers, architects and construction professionals at Burns & McDonnell has been designing, building and constructing two one-of-a-kind exhibits inspired by a group of area kids between the ages of 9 and 18.  Until now, these ideas were simply dreams, visions, and sketches on paper.  Now, as winners of the nation’s most rigorous K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic) education competition, Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains, students are seeing their ideas transformed into million dollar exhibits at Science City, for the very first time.


“It’s so cool to see how our idea that we brainstormed together in class has come to life at Science City.  This whole experience has been life changing,” says Cooper Yerby, senior at Olathe North High School, who says every single person on his team is now pursuing a STEM related major in college.  “After being so hands-on with our Battle of the Brains project, I decided to major in Geology and focus on water research.”


In 2013, students at Olathe North High School and Leawood Elementary beat out nearly 200 schools and 3,500 other students with their winning ideas in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition.  Each school won $50,000 to use towards STEM education and the chance to work alongside professionals such as engineers, architects and designers who would transform their one-of-a-kind ideas from concept to creation to live at Science City.


Every Last Drop:  The Science of Water is a visually stimulating exhibit inspired by a group of teens from Olathe North High School.  Featuring 18 unique components, the exhibit immerses visitors in all aspects of our relationship with water such as its interaction between water and life, how we use water, and the impeding danger of water scarcity.  From the Floating Faucet and the Water Treatment Wall to the Interactive Sand Table and the Suspended Water Molecules that create a one-of-a-kind lighting system, the interactive components will keep you mesmerized throughout the entire exhibit that is sure to give you a new perspective on H2O.


Genetics:  Unlock the Code is the brainchild of a group of Leawood Elementary students who were inspired by their teacher’s genetic condition that produces overly flexible joints, as well as skin that is extremely fragile and stretchy.  With each person 99.9% identical to the person next to them, this 22 component exhibit helps visitors discover the science and wonder behind that fraction of a percent that makes you – you.  From the DNA Dance-Off and Duplication Station to Try-a-Trait and Trait Tree, visitors will experience the human genome one cell at a time.


“You won’t find exhibits like these anywhere in the world,” says George Guastello, president and CEO, Union Station Kansas City, Inc. “The two exhibits are massive - spanning more than 5,600 feet - and are completely interactive.  Thanks to the inspiration of these brilliant young minds and the innovative professionals at Burns & McDonnell, these permanent exhibits are the most fun and engaging classrooms you’ll ever experience.  These are truly amazing gifts to Greater Kansas City and our all-important Science Center.  What a thrill it is for all involved to open them both during this 100th year of Union Station.”   


“Labor statistics show us that STEM careers – like engineering – make up more than 1 out of 10 jobs and pay nearly twice the U.S. average, but getting kids interested in these fields early is a huge challenge,” says Greg Graves, Chairman and CEO, Burns & McDonnell, whose firm has built and donated four exhibits and an Engineerium to Science City to promote STEM education.


“Our goal with Battle of the Brains is to give kids a glimpse into their future to see how these awesome careers can make a difference in not only their lives, but contribute to the advancement of our nation,” says Graves.  “Knowing many of these talented Olathe North and Leawood students have now decided to pursue a STEM related degree in college makes us all winners.”


Battle of the Brains was developed and funded by the Burns & McDonnell Foundation to address the declining number of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Science City at Union Station was selected as the latest beneficiary of the program. The Burns & McDonnell Foundation has made it a priority to become a leader in developing, organizing and funding STEM education and training initiatives both locally and nationally. The foundation has invested $4.5 million over the past few years in grant programs that support both STEM education and thriving educational environments like Science City.



About Union Station Kansas City, Inc.

Union Station Kansas City is a historical landmark and civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. The organization, driven by its mission of science and history education and entertainment, features a science center, the popular Model Railroad Experience open year round, new planetarium, one of the region’s largest screen movie theaters, live theater, shops, restaurants and home to prominent area civic organizations and businesses. Visit for details.


About Burns & McDonnell Foundation

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation is a key component of the firm's longstanding commitment to improve the quality of life through: educational outreach supporting careers in engineering and technology; human services; environmentally responsible practices; and support for the arts and cultural enrichment. In addition, Burns & McDonnell encourages and supports volunteer efforts by employee-owners in support of projects and causes that support our communities. Burns & McDonnell provides engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting services to clients throughout North America and abroad. Founded in 1898, Burns & McDonnell is 100 percent employee-owned.