Monday, November 28, 2016

STEM Fall Wrap-up

“[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world...”     

Olney Library has had a busy fall hosting a number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs for children of all ages. The STEM subjects are not only essential for children’s academic achievement, but also help them to successfully navigate our increasingly complex world. 

Beyond the use of everyday technology, high-skilled workers such as engineers, software developers, and research scientists need specialized knowledge and training. That’s why MCPL begins its STEM programs for children as young as pre-schoolers. Like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you never know if an early interaction with computers or exposure to science might spur a lifelong passion! Here are some STEM program highlights:

Building Blocks

Each week, Olney hosts “More than a
BLOCK PARTY!” and the Lego Construction Crew. As the Duplos and Legos are put out, kids are waiting and ready to let their creative juices flow! We’ve seen cars, flying machines, castles and gas stations. While building their unique projects, children also learn basic engineering skills. 

Back by popular demand: Olney's Cup Tower Challenge

Olney held its third successful Cup Tower Challenge in November. Children competed with one another to see who could build the tallest tower in 20 minutes-- using only plastic cups. The room was abuzz with energy as kids tested out their different building strategies; inevitably there would be screams as one toppled over! We’re always impressed by the kids’ technical skills as they manage to build towers over 7’ high.

Geodesic Domes

Olney was very fortunate to have Ms. Gaya Mohan lead a workshop on building geodesic domes, popularized by inventor Buckminster Fuller. First, she described the geometry behind the structure and how triangles form the basis of ‘dome’ creation. Then, using toothpicks and marshmallows, Gaya guided the children in building triangles and combining them into larger shapes. In a short time, they had created mini-domes and were so proud of their handiwork!  

Electric Art Lab

Kids and their parents were given brief instructions and then were off to create their own artistic and mechanical creatures. Each machine had its own distinctive personality and quirks. Check out our videos of a robot happily eating a donut, or another of a machine that can defend itself when attacked. The parents had as much fun tinkering as the kids. Thanks to FutureMakers for bringing such an innovative and engaging project to Olney!

A Perennial Favorite: leaf rubbings

As part of a Montgomery County Master Gardeners presentation on leaf and tree identification, children had the opportunity to make rubbings of leaves found on Olney Library grounds. We also had resource books and ID keys for kids to identify the leaves. They enjoyed comparing the different leaf shapes, sizes and colors, and learning about the photosynthetic process.
Thanks to Heather Wright, Head of Children's Services, and Meredith Smith, Children's Librarian, for planning and coordinating these programs. Special thanks to the Friends of the Library, Olney Chapter, for their support.

See more photos and videos of recent STEM programs at Olney.

Want to read more? Check out our earlier blog posts

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