Science is not just a subject taught in school; it can be a way to motivate students to want to learn. And that is the key to success today.
As our world has become more and more complex, success is a result of not only what a person knows, but also what a person can do with that knowledge. That’s why it is more important than ever for our growing students to gain the knowledge and skills to solve problems, and evaluate and make sense of information. Studying science, technology, engineering and math is the key for gaining this knowledge.
STEM stands for the four academic disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Rather than teach them separately, the STEM program integrates them for use in real-life applications that meet the needs of our technological world.
Stephani Wallen got an idea to bring technology and science to the Bradford County Library in a program for children.
“The library is a learning center – it’s not just about books,” said Wallen.
On Friday, Dec. 28, Wallen offered a first time science and technology hands-on event for all ages, from toddler through high school, utilizing gadgets, kits, and robots that the students were able to explore and play with. These included Magna-Tiles, Bee-Bots, Little Bits LED circuits, Squishy Circuits, Snap Circuits, Dash and Dot and Create-A-Chain Reaction Set.
Dash and Dot are owned by the County System, housed at the Bradford County Library. The James V. Brown Library in Williamsport, which is the district library, owns Little Bits, Squishy Circuits, Snap Circuits and Bee-Bots. These gadgets are sent for through inter-library employee loan.
“The district is trying to promote more STEM programs,” said Wallen. “I’m just facilitating.”
Wallen will be utilizing these gadgets, offering a family program, STEM for Kids, at the Bradford County Library. She is planning to have it once a month on a Monday evening at 6 pm. Each month will be a different theme. For more information call the library at (570) 297–2436.
“We’re going to be doing a crime investigation night where they’re going to have to figure out who did it, using science techniques and clues including DNA and fingerprinting,” explained Wallen. “It’s like CSI.”
According to Wallen, Cyber Tech donated two laptops to Bradford County Library so the students have something to use to teach them coding and programming.
“Sometime in the near future, Cyber Tech will be coming in and teaching programing to the kids,” said Wallen.
“There’s so many different levels to robotics and so many different levels to engineering,” continued Wallen. “I want to get the people who do this for a living in our community to get involved teaching these kids.”
Wallen plans to reach out for others in the community to come to share their skills. She’s looking for an environmental engineer, a chemist, a security company, crime scene investigators and more robotics. And she’s always looking for donations for this program so they can get even more advanced programs.
“I just want it to keep growing,” said Wallen. “I want kids to see what kinds of different jobs are out there and experience them on a hands-on level. It makes it fun!”
“It’s nice to have a program where Stephani and I are both here,” said Rebecca Troup-Hodgdon, children’s librarian. “So while the older kids are engaged in more difficult tasks, the younger ones are still involved.”
Parents are encouraged to stay and explore the gadgets with their children.
“I think it’s kind of nice for them to use these gadgets before you buy – try them out before purchasing something like this,” said Megan Greenough, who attended the Friday night hands-on event with her children. “I can tell they’re thinking. They’re so busy, they hardly hear me.”
Greenough’s favorite gadget was the Bee-Bot, a programmable floor robot with simple child-friendly layout that is a great starting point for teaching control, directional language and programming to young children.
But it seems that Bee-Bot proved to be just as much fun for the adults when Megan Greenough said, “I’m going to have to buy my own.”