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Children in Grades 1-6 have been STEAMing away in the new STEAM Powered Creation Station at the Needham Free Public Library. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, and is being taught in Needham elementary schools. The Needham Free Public Library partnered with Olin College, The Needham Science Center and Needham Public Schools in creating this science-themed maker space for children.
The Steam Powered Creation Station, located inside the Children’s Craft Room, is open weekdays after school from 3:30-8:30 p.m.; on early release days, it will open at 1:00 p.m. It is open on Saturdays from 9:00-4:30 and on Sundays from 1-6:30 p.m. Children ages six and up are invited to drop in during these times to build, code, tinker and create.
Children learn through play as they program Dot and Dash robots, create a 3D object with a 3D Doodler, use a MakeyMakey invention kit, create a motorized Play-Doh animal with light up LED eyes using Squishy Circuits or make other electrical inventions using Snap Circuits or LittleBits. The Center also provides a variety of recycled and arts-and-crafts materials to use for artworks or inventions.
The Dot and Dash Robots can be programed using an iPad, other tablet or smart phone. The Children’s Department has three iPads that can be used with a library card in the afternoons after school when the STEAM center is supervised. Children who bring their own tablet or smartphone may use the robots at any time with their own device.
Inside the Center are instructions for using each kit, along with several books providing project ideas for children to try. The Children’s page on the library website has a section devoted to the new STEAM station with links to instructions, online tutorials and project ideas. Some of these sites allow children to photograph and post their projects online, showing them off to the world.
The Needham Free Public Library will be offering workshops on using each of the different types of materials in the Creation Station. Starting on January 23 and running through February 13, Liz Lee of Let’s Build will be offering weekly engineering workshops at the library. Children who register for these workshops will complete a different engineering challenge each week using ordinary objects to accomplish amazing things.
Kevin Osborn from Bald Wisdom will provide a registration workshop for children ages seven and up on creating with the 3D Doodler on Saturday, February 4.
During February school vacation week, Michael Marks from TSC Robotics will provide a robotics demonstration for children ages six and up featuring everything from Bristlebots to the humanoid NAO robot.
Also in February, Nick Tartar from Olin College will provide a series of robotics workshops for children in Grades 3-6 using the Dash and Mindstorm EV3 robots. Other workshops to be held throughout the year include Raspberry Pi, a workshop on creating paper circuits using Circuit Scribe, a Minecraft Coding workshop, a MakeyMakey workshop and a class in e-sewing.
The STEAM Powered Creation Station was funded by a LSTA Grant administered at the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in the Commonwealth by the MBLC. For more information, call (781-455-7559).