Grant keeps STEM momentum going in West Jefferson

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Children listen intently during a “Science and the Sea” presentation at Hurt/Battelle Memorial Library. Thanks to a new “Full STEM Ahead” grant from Battelle, the West Jefferson library is planning more science, technology, engineering, and math programs for 2023.

(Posted Dec. 21, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

For the third straight year, Battelle has awarded grant funding to Hurt/Battelle Memorial Library in West Jefferson for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programming.

The library will put the $20,000 toward supplies and staffing for programs in 2023 for youths up to age 18. The basic goal of “Full STEM Ahead” is to nurture a love of science and related fields among young learners.

“The ultimate goal of this program is to provide valuable contributions to a well-rounded education so the participants have the desire, confidence, knowledge, and skills to succeed in STEM-related studies and professions,” according to Battelle.

In the short term, the programs are designed to help young students make up for learning deficits in science and math caused by the pandemic.

“The library is a source of information and activities to help bridge that gap and help students make up for lost time during COVID. Battelle has been a great resource to provide money for us to do that,” said Chris Siscoe, library director.

In 2023, the library will present STEM programs like “Graphing for the Future” during which a STEM-credentialed teacher guides teens through the basics of using a programmable calculator. Participants will get to keep the calculators which are recommended for student use at the middle school, high school, and college levels.

“Turtle Talk” was another STEM program hosted at the library this past year.

The library also plans to purchase STEM kits for use during storytimes for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade. The kits focus on a variety of topics. One example is “Things That Fly,” a kit that covers the lifecycle of butterflies and includes a backyard birding game and butterfly matching games. Magnets and gardening are other examples of kit topics. All of the STEM kits come with age-appropriate books, lessons, and supplies.

These are a few of the STEM activities Hurt/Battelle is lining up for next year to continue the momentum toward building youths’ research and study skills. Last year, more than 2,000 children and teens took part in the library’s STEM programs.

Siscoe said the library’s board has been very supportive, as well, increasing the library’s overall programming budget to $15,000 for 2023. A large part of that budget will go toward STEM programming.

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