The room on Thursday afternoon was abuzz with activity. On one end, kids constructed electrical circuits with Play-Doh and batteries, while at the other side of the room, a lesson in changing states of matter occurred with melting candy canes.
“We’re changing hard stuff to a liquid,” third-grader Lilli explained.
“You get to make shapes and anything you want, and she’s [ library staff member Katie Northern ] going to melt it and then you can eat it afterwards,” she continued with a smile.
Every Thursday afternoon, the library hosts Create and Weird Science for kids ages 5-12 — two of many STEAM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and/or Math) programs.
“STEAM concepts make learning fun and engaging, which is important when working with children,” said Outreach Assistant Tucker Valentine. “Skills, such as computer programming, are a lot less intimidating when you're exploring them in a fun, low-pressure environment.”
“When it is presented as something fun to do, kids are more receptive to trying something new and not afraid to fail,” echoed Outreach Assistant Katie Northern.
The library started consciously offering STEAM programming roughly five years ago by providing an open Minecraft server for kids to play and interact on, as well as starting a Lego Club. Today, the library offers a half dozen regular STEAM programs, as well as special events, like January’s Girls Only Robotics Workshop, Full STEAM Ahead, and CoderDojo.
In addition to library programs, staff also work closely with teachers and librarians at Weld RE-4 schools on STEAM programs and activities that complement classroom learning.
"I help teach anything from Makerspace Hour, to 3D printing and 3D print design, to intro to coding, robotics, and electronics," said Technology Librarian Michael Ross.
Programs with an emphasis on STEAM concepts equip students with valuable 21st-century career skills — problem solving, creative thinking, and innovation.
“STEAM programming is incredibly important for students in the 21st century,” said Ross. “It enables and empowers individuals and our community to explore and learn and grow.”