"This is a message from the President of the United States. Our computer system has taken over and we need you, Ms. Karen Benson. We don't have much time..." This was the message I heard as a Sphero robot on my desk turned green, then red, and began to wobble as a "self destruct" explosion sounded from a tablet held by the young lady who had programmed the robot, including the narrative, color changes, and movement. It was Tech Tuesday and her first introduction to programming.
The Gravette Public Library launched a new program last month for youth called "STEAM @ The Library." What is STEAM? It's an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Our STEAM program provides after school activities four days a week, each with a particular theme. Participants can choose from over 25 projects and earn badges.
Maker Mondays includes arts and crafts. Participants have created bird feeders from recycled materials, penned poetry in various forms, made decorations and organizers, and created buttons with sayings that encourage others.
Another Tech Tuesday participant made a race car using LEGOs and drove it using an app on a tablet. Game controllers have been created using various items and a Makey Makey circuit board. Ozobots, Spheros and Ollies have been programmed to complete various tasks.
Several participants in Wear-It Wednesday have learned to use a sewing machine and various projects are in different stages of construction. Youth have learned to hand sew stitches and sew on a button. Paracord projects have included bracelets and headbands. Polymer clay has been transformed into objects and strips of paper were made into beads.
The library recently received a $7,000 grant from the Best Buy Foundation which will fund the expansion of this program to include art, 3-D printing and e-sewing.
There is no enrollment requirement for STEAM @ The Library. It's a drop-in after school event held from 3:30 - 5:30 PM for youth in grades 6-12. We invite area youth to stop by and check it out.