Library program allows youth to let off STEAM

Eight-year-olds Jake and Selena are intent on creating cool colour coded line drawings to make their Ozobots travel across their design.

By Julie Williams

The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library invites youth aged seven and older to check out their STEAM Club.

STEAM is a common acronym in the education world for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

“Our STEAM Club is an opportunity for kids ages seven-plus to explore robotics, coding, digital media and more,” said Catherine Arthurs, digital services library assistant. “I focus on keeping everything fun and low pressure since kids can be intimidated if they think they aren’t good at science or math. I want STEAM Club to be a place where kids can surprise themselves with their own skills and learn that STEAM is a fun part of all kinds of hobbies and careers.”

During the day’s session, children used Ozobots, miniature robots that move and light up in response to line drawings and colour. The robots introduce basic coding and robotics skills through visuals and encourage creative problem solving.

At another table, participants were engaged in making sounds through a fruit piano using MakeyMakey, a flexible kit that allows for coding and basic electrical circuitry. Real fruit is wired through a circuit board to a computer and a program is created to make it into playable piano keys.

Arthurs says she loves how the activities bring the participants closer together.

“Even though the kids start the session not knowing each other, they leave as friends,” she said. “When they have something new and exciting to explore, it’s a common bond. They start working together and naturally become a team.”

The program runs every other Friday, Oct. 5 to Dec. 14, from 4-5 p.m. at the library. The cost is five dollars per session and pre-registration is required. For more information contact Arthurs at catherine.arthurs@wsplibrary.ca.

Main photo: Children created a human chain fruit piano by completing a circuit between the computer, the MakeyMakey device, the wires, the fruit, and their own body. By linking arms, they added more people to the circuit and six kids could all play at the same time. Julie Williams photos

 

 

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