Library Announces Systemwide STEM Education Initiative

| September 18, 2013
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libraryLocal children from preschool to high school will explore the world of science and mathematics at their local library branches this fall, thanks to a newly expanded schedule of STEM [Science Technology Engineering Mathematics] programs offered by the Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL).

Literacy may be the library’s specialty, but AACPL has always offered science-related programming to supplement children’s formal STEM instruction. Now, as educators nationwide continue to emphasize the necessity of STEM education, the library has increased its ongoing schedule of hands-on science programs to include events at all 15 branches this fall and in each autumn to come.

“It’s important to spark children’s interest in STEM at an early age,” said Shelley Davenport, the library’s Programming & Outreach Coordinator. “These new STEM programs will pique young children’s curiosity in the sciences by allowing them discover and experiment in an informal, hands-on way.”

The programming ranges from the most basic – such as preschool-level events focusing on taste, outer space and construction – to the complex, with ‘tweens and teens invited to dip their toes into aeronautics, neuroscience, robotics and more.  In total, families can choose from 35 STEM events across the 15 branch locations from September through November.

“The library’s new STEM initiative is meant to supplement the science and mathematics education the children receive in school,” said Davenport, “and our hope is that Scout groups and homeschool parents could use this as well.”

Several of the events will allow children to explore, experiment and learn at their own pace. For example, the staff of FutureMakers, a group promoting ‘tinkering’ activities like woodworking and sewing, will guide kids through the process of creating their own robots during the “Drawing Machines & Wigglebots” event at the Annapolis Area Library on October 5.

For many of the programs, guest instructors from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the National Weather Service and several other institutions will be on hand to give children personal accounts of what it’s like to work in a STEM field. Librarians will also guide student attendees to use AACPL’s online Homework Center if they need help with science or math homework.

Though the STEM initiative will focus primarily on the back-to-school months of September, October and November in the years to come, other science events will continue at branch locations throughout the year. STEM programs will be denoted in the library’s quarterly publication, Library Happenings, by a test tube motif.

Your coverage is invited for these upcoming STEM events and others:

  • Playing with Books – Annapolis Area Library – Tuesday, September 10 at 6:30 PM. Join us as we break all the rules: rip, puncture, paint and glue old, discarded books to create masterpieces. [for tweens and teens]
  • Taste the Magic – Annapolis Area Library – Thursday, September 19 at 6:30 PM
  • Mix, squeeze and stir to explore the magical changes of solids and liquids. Best of all – taste test the finished product and share your thoughts. Stories, activities and above all, fun!
  • Preschool StorySTEM – West County Area Library – Thursday, September 12 at 9:30 AM  Enjoy a special storytime to introduce very young children to STEM.
  • Tales of the Blue Crab – North County Area Library – Thursday, September 26 at 7 PM
  • Learn about the Chesapeake Bay’s Blue Crab. Mark Haddon, from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, will present education activities to show how scientists study these crabs. See live crabs and learn how they grow and feed.

The STEM initiative is generously supported by a three-year grant from the Calliope Tsoulias Morfessis Braun Memorial Fund. For more information, call Laurie L. Hayes, AACPL Director of Public Relations & Marketing, at 410.222.7371.

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