(Posted Jan. 7, 2020)
By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer
Mount Sterling Public Library is introducing a new program called Makerspace. Sessions are set for noon-2 p.m. the third Saturday of the month. The first event will take place on Jan. 18.
What is a Makerspace? It is a space set aside in schools and libraries where children of all ages are given the opportunity to discover, explore, invent and create by using everything from art materials to older technology like cassette tapes and newer technologies like computers and robotics.
Makerspace kits are effective teaching aides, and donated supplies such as crafting materials, cardboard, Ethernet cables, tools, hardware and more are utilized, as well.
Assistant Librarian Angela McFarland got excited about the possibility of having a Makerspace at the library when she attended a professional development conference and learned about the concept.
Mount Sterling Public Library’s Makerspace will be divided into two parts or kits. One kit will include art supplies with which young patrons can create freely on their own. The other kit will include a challenge they will try to meet. For example, they will use five different materials to create a robot. The kits include instructions for how to complete the challenges, which involves the skill of reading–always a goal at the library.
Makerspace users are encouraged to approach the art projects and challenges with their own ideas on how to do them. There is no wrong way to come to a creative conclusion. Understanding how something works, however, is a process McFarland will make sure the participants consider.
“I had my students take a computer apart, and it made more sense to them as to how a computer works,” McFarland said. “Now they see why they have to do or not do certain things when working with a computer, like not being rough with it because of the delicate parts.”
In addition to serving as an assistant librarian, McFarland works with the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program at Dayton City Schools. As such, she wanted to take the library’s Makerspace a step farther by reaching out to area educators. Madison County teachers can check out Makerspace kits from the library. The kits include materials and a curriculum guide with suggestions, plus links and a list of books in the system that relate to the Makerspace projects.
“It’s really important that children are given the freedom to learn how to be creative and problem solve, even if they won’t be an engineer or scientist,” McFarland said. “They can’t have that freedom if they’re worried about making a mistake. The library is a safe space for them to learn.”
For more information about Mount Sterling Public Library’s Makerspace, to become a community partner, or to donate materials, contact the library at (740) 869-2430 and ask for Sharon Morgan. A supply needs list will be provided.
Mount Sterling Public Library is located at 60 W. Columbus St.