This is part of a series of Session Notes from grantees who have received Professional Development grants from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. Each grantee will share their professional development experience and include tips and other resources from the workshop or class. Grantees had their choice of an article for the Compendium, a webinar or a podcast. This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Attending the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) Conference at the Kalahari Resort was eye-opening in many ways. I went with the intent of learning more from the Techni-Gals presentation by the Middletown Free Library. I wanted to become more comfortable with STEM initiatives at the library.
They talked about their weeklong immersion for girls and 2015’s e-textile pillows and 2016’s game design workshop. I was impressed with the way the entire staff got involved. They also brought in speakers or Skyped with women in STEM fields making me realize I have not yet tapped some of the expertise in my own community. Another impressive aspect was the empowerment of teens themselves to teach subjects like chess and coding.
It was interesting that some of the projects were presented to the students with no instructions! This is to promote problem solving and sharing with others. I was also surprised that in addition to LED lights, coin batteries, circuits, and soldering, there was also room for paper-making and ice cream production. Now we’re talking!
Grants, local sponsors, fees, and crowd-sourcing were some of the ways that this program was funded. Additional resources include setting up a “Little Bits” chapter and the website of Techni-Gals.org.
Although I do not currently have plans for a weeklong session like this, it has inspired me to add STEM activities to my story hours, my LEGO club meetings (e.g. Engineering Escapes), etc. Some of the building ideas I obtained for this summer’s Build a Better World focus include Cardboard marble mazes, designing a Newspaper Tower (teachengineering.org), the Seismic Shake-up (pbskids.org), and the Marshmallow Challenge.