Local Libraries to Develop Mobile STEAM Activities for Teens — Merced County Times

Exciting public library programming involving STEAM learning is in the works for local teens throughout the community.

Merced County Public Library cataloging librarian Daniel O’Brien told The Times, “I process all new books and prepare them for distribution throughout the library system, and I also oversee scheduling for teenagers. I wear both hats here.

“Merced County just approved our acceptance of a $10,000 grant. It’s a Copycat grant set up by the state library system that copies other grants given in the past, and we’re going to be doing Pop-Up Maker Spaces, a program for teens. We will build it from scratch.

“Teenagers will be able to attend the programs as they will be advertised, and teens who attend will have staff members to assist them.

“It’s a program that you can offer to the community, instead of having activities in the library, which means everyone has to come to the library to use it. “The idea is to develop programs that are more accessible to our community.

“A big part of our value system at the library is inclusion and innovation. Here at the main branch, we already have 3D printing equipment. It’s getting old, and we need updated equipment. Also, the equipment we have cannot be transported and we cannot take it to other branches.

“So this grant will be used for a mobile maker space. We’re going to invest in portable 3D printers, and a new Virtual Reality system that won’t need a computer, and will only need a wireless Wi-Fi connection.

“We are going to create STEAM learning kits, and there will be different experiences that teenagers can do. For example, there is a robotics program where teenagers learn simple coding and programming, and we have a robot that fulfills different functions.

“In this activity, teens will build a marker robot that is the size of a hand as one of six activities. They can drive it forward, forward about two inches, turn right, and spin around. The robot can move around a paper The aim of the robotics curriculum will be to teach simple robotics – teens can build it and use markers to rotate on a sheet of paper.

Additional activities include:
  • Art Bot: This activity requires a motor, a battery, a simple plastic cup and some markers. Teens will be able to create a simple robot that can create random artistic designs based on the weight and position of their robot’s legs.
  • Holiday Treehouse: This activity will see teens making a tiny house and a model holiday tree that lights up. It requires copper tape and LED lights, and teens will learn how to create a circuit using these materials.
  • LED Greeting Card: This is another circuits activity. Teens will be able to create their own unique greeting cards while tracing circuits to light up the LEDs wherever they want in the card.
  • Paper Flashlight: This activity requires the use of graphite pencils, leads, a 9-volt battery, LEDs, and construction paper to create a DIY flashlight. This is a great activity that will demonstrate how electrical conductors can create a circuit.
  • LED Throwies: This is a very simple activity using magnets, batteries and LEDs. Teens will create a “toss” that lights up and is fun to toss. This is an opportunity to teach battery mechanics; it’s a great outdoor activity.
  • Sunprinting: This activity requires sunprint paper and different unique objects (like leaves, toys, feathers). Once the teens have arranged the objects as they wish on the solar printing paper, exposing it to the sun will create an image on the paper.

“We are in the phase where we are ordering equipment, and we will have purchased everything and trained our staff to use it so that we can have programs starting during the 2022 summer reading, which runs from the first Saturday in June to first week of August at all Merced County branches.

“During the Reading summer, we will be piloting the program and bringing it to various library branches throughout Merced County.”

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