Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains Exhibit Riveting Robots Opens at Science City to Educate Guests About Programming, Coding and Problem-Solving
Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains Exhibit Riveting Robots Opens at Science City to Educate Guests About Programming, Coding and Problem-Solving
09/19/2023 3 minute read

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Nearly 40 Raytown students and their teachers helped unveil Riveting Robots, the newest $1 million exhibit at Science City at Union Station. Riveting Robots, the Raytown Challenge Gifted Program’s robotics-themed proposal, won the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition in April 2022 and earned the school $50,000 in grant money and the opportunity to work with professionals at Burns & McDonnell to transform the space.

“These Raytown students have worked hard over the last two years coming up with an inspirational idea for a new exhibit, and then helping design it for Science City,” says Ray Kowalik, Chairman and CEO of Burns & McDonnell. “It was so great to see the excitement on their faces when it was finally revealed. Today’s grand opening reinforces why we launched Battle of the Brains years ago — to help inspire, support and mentor the next generation of STEM leaders.”

“Over the past year our students enjoyed learning about all the steps needed to bring their ideas to life,” says Megan Finlay, an Elementary Challenge teacher. “From the kids’ initial proposal to the design and look of the exhibit to the construction, we’re thrilled to have had the chance to be a part of this project.”

Riveting Robots fills nearly 2,800 square feet of space on the ground floor of Science City. The exhibit is made up of eight unique spaces: Jarvis is the exhibit’s ROBOTHESPIAN, a life-size humanoid robot that can dance, sing and take selfies with Science City visitors. And just like humans need hands to grab objects, robots require devices at the ends of their arms to do things. Science City guests will learn about those devices — end effectors — in GET A GRIP.

Kids can build their own robot in BUILD A BOT, code a robotic rover in MISSION:CODE and step in front of a lidar sensor in i-SIGHT to learn how light pulses and sensor can “see” objects, just like the technology used in today’s cars.

Steady and precise hands are needed for anyone who wants to RACE A ROBOT, and CO-OPERATION provides an opportunity for kids to show off their surgical skills by slowly and carefully removing pieces from a patient’s body, similar to what is done in robotic surgery. After they’ve simulated surgery, they can use special tools to tie a pair of sneakers in LACE ’EM UP!

“Our award-winning Science City and professional team provide kids with a fun and engaging learning experience and now they get to be amazed by Riveting Robots, where they can build their own robot or even program one,” says George Guastello, president and CEO of Union Station. “It was remarkable to watch our long-time partner Burns & McDonnell transform the students’ winning concept into this one-of-a-kind exhibit our community will appreciate for many years to come. As Union Station has become where Kansas City celebrates, Science City — with the tremendous support of Burns & McDonnell and their associates — has become where families from across our entire region and beyond explore the fascinating and fun world of STEM and how it impacts every aspect of our lives.”

The Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition is one of the nation’s most unique K-12 STEM programs, with thousands of students competing to pitch their unique classroom idea for a permanent exhibit at Science City. Approximately 2,500 students participated in the first Battle of the Brains competition in 2011 and that number has nearly tripled to more than 6,400 students participating in the 2021 competition cycle. The 2023 Battle of the Brains competition cycle is already underway.

Burns & McDonnell has designed and built eight major exhibits that have transformed Science City, or more than half of the nearly 100,000 square feet of the science center’s interactive exhibit space.

About Burns & McDonnell

Burns & McDonnell is a family of companies bringing together an unmatched team of more than 13,500 engineers, construction and craft professionals, architects, planners, technologists, and scientists to design and build our critical infrastructure. With an integrated construction and design mindset, we offer full-service capabilities. Founded in 1898 and working from 70 offices globally, Burns & McDonnell is 100% employee-owned. Learn how we are designed to build.

About Science City

Centrally located in the heart of Kansas City and part of the historic and acclaimed Union Station complex, Science City boasts more than 325 interactive and static exhibits covering nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of inside and outdoor space. Internationally awarded for “Visitor Experience” by ASTC and regionally awarded “Favorite Family Friendly Attraction” by Visit KC Visitors Choice Awards, Science City powered by Burns & McDonnell is named one of the country’s TOP 25 science centers. Annually, it educates and entertains hundreds of thousands of science-thirsty children of all ages. Kansas City’s Science Center is THE place for inquisitive young minds to create, explore, and experiment with the BIG world of science through hands-on learning and non-stop fun. Visit SCIENCECITY.COM for details.