Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Library Makers

Have you been hearing about Maker Spaces and STEM projects lately? These are the buzzwords for a growing movement to get kids and teens (and adults, too!) involved in doing things that encourage creating and building and experimenting and gaming in ways that lead to innovation and learning. Maker Spaces are about making things—using everything from craft sticks and glue to hammers and wrenches to sewing machines to 3D printers.

STEM refers to activities that engage students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Montgomery County Public Schools has a STEM based curriculum to help build skills and interest in these areas where many workers of the future will be needed. There was even a mini MakerFaire held in Silver Spring recently.

MCPL has also started blending STEM and Maker Spaces with library programs and events. Our MCPL Technology Plan describes the need for Digital Media Labs (see page 15) to help students learn and practice using the technology they need to succeed in the future. To that end,  a digital media lab will open in 2014 at the Long Branch Library. The library website will have news about this exciting venture once the lab is ready to open to the public. Even the youngest children can do STEM activities at a new program developed at the Wheaton Library.
Lego program 
On the more low-tech side, many of our libraries had mini Maker Spaces over the summer where children could make or do different projects: painting, building with Lego or Duplo blocks, simple science projects and more. Sound a lot like arts & crafts of yore? It is! But now the emphasis is on how these simple things relate to learning and how they can kindle a passion for doing something bigger later in life.

Today’s robot builder at the library could be tomorrow’s interstellar engineer designing life support systems on Mars! Today’s builder of the five foot tall tower of Duplo blocks might become tomorrow’s architect making earthquake and typhoon-proof homes!  (We like to dream big around here.)

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