A new activity area has been added to the Smithsonian Institution's Spark!Lab. Located near the America on the Move exhibition in the National Museum of American History, Spark!Lab uses fun activities to help kids and families learn about the history and process of invention. The lab operates on the premise that invention is a process, from creative ideas all the way to successful marketing.

Visitors can see porous asphalt in action and experiment with different kinds of road surfaces to discover which works better in wet conditions.  Another Spark!Lab activity incorporates wax and a gravel mixture to illustrate the process of laying and then recycling asphalt.


The America on the Move exhibition, which opened in the Fall of 2003, provides an educational experience on the importance of transportation and its underlying infrastructure to the nation's history and economy.

The museum's transportation hall encompasses nearly 26,000 square feet, includes 340 objects, and features 19 historic settings in chronological order. From the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876 to the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs to the global economy of Los Angeles in 1999, America on the Move takes visitors on a fascinating journey where asphalt roads figure prominently. Multimedia technology and environments allow visitors to see historic artifacts as they once were, a vital part of the nation’s transportation system and of the business, social, and cultural history of the country.

The museum closed for renovations in 2005 and reopened in November 2008.  The renovations dramatically transformed the museum's architectural appeal while reorganizing and renewing the presentation of its extensive collections.  New exhibitions provide an up-close look at the almost 200-year-old Star-Spangled Banner and a rare chance to see the White House copy of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.


The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. Documenting the American experience from colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., in Washington, DC, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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America On The Move


See how we got here and explore how transportation shaped our lives, landscapes, culture, and communities.

Porous Asphalt is King


Porous asphalt is an all-natural material using rocks glued together with asphalt cement, like most standard roads, but with one difference.

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