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Beyond Books STEM
March 20, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
We plan to use the NJ STEM Month mini-grant to add STEM and Maker kits to our Beyond Books collection of items that patrons can check out through our library system.
Presently due to COVID-19, our libraries are closed to the public, all programming is online, and our Makerspace is unavailable. Because we are blessed to have science educators on staff, we have offered many virtual STEM programs since closing, as often as five times a week. To compliment these programs we are sharing STEM kits with our community so they have the opportunity to continue learning and exploring at home. Not every family is able to attend virtual programs for a host of reasons. Our hope is that by providing these types of kits to our patrons, families will be able to interact more with STEM topics. We also hope that our growing homeschooling community will have access to high-quality tools for their children.
We have recently taken items from our Makerspace — such as Snap Circuits, littleBits, a microscope, Makey Makey, micro:bit, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Google Cardboard, and birdwatching items — and paired them with appropriate books to create Beyond Books STEM kits. Any patron of our library can check out these kits for free and use them for four weeks at a time, just like a book! It’s proven a popular program across all four branches of our library system.
Many of our current Beyond Books STEM collection items were donated by community members, provided by non-profits, or funded through previous grants. We want to expand our collection by adding more STEM and Maker education kits. Presently we plan to add leatherworking, sewing, jewelry making, an orienteering kit, a 3D printing pen, a soldering kit, a HUE camera for stop motion, Makedo, and Strawbees. Grant funding will be used towards this effort.
We have a publicity plan to promote our Beyond Books STEM kits throughout the month of March using our website, social media, and electronic newsletter. New items will be highlighted specifically on New Jersey Makers Day on March 20 with a recorded video about the kits and how to use them. Even better, because the kits will be available to patrons long after NJ STEM Month, this grant will continue to make a difference in our families’ lives for years to come.