The Piper Computer, a build-your-own-computer, is one of the kits available for loan at the Creston Public Library. Photo: Aaron Hemens

The Piper Computer, a build-your-own-computer, is one of the kits available for loan at the Creston Public Library. Photo: Aaron Hemens

At-home, STEM-based learning kits available for loan at Creston Public Library

There are over a dozen learning kits available to borrow, which includes a build-your-own computer kit, circuit board kits, robot kits, a drone and more.

In an effort to encourage youth to engage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-based learning at home, the Creston Public Library is now offering a variety of Tech Kits that are available for loan for the community.

There are over a dozen learning kits available to borrow for three weeks at a time, which includes a build-your-own computer kit, circuit board kits, robot kits, a drone and more.

“Ultimately, I hope that there are kids out there who don’t have access to the material and now are able to access it, that this inspires them to go forward in science,” said Saara Itkonen, the chief librarian at the Creston Public Library.

The kits are designed for use by youth between the ages of five and 16-years-old. In addition to the actual tech and equipment checklist, some kits include booklets that lead you to websites that contain lessons on the specific gadget, while others already come with different tasks to choose from.

“They’re a variety of different tasks. Several of them are building different circuits that do different things, like light things up or play music,” said Itkonen.

The kits are all products of the library’s past in-house, STEM-based programming. But due to the pandemic, these learning opportunities were shelved.

“With not being able to support those skills with in-house programming, I still wanted people to have access to it. We have a really large homeschooling community,” said Itkonen. “Even though our elementary schools have this kind of equipment, as well as 3D printers and stuff, kids that are homeschooled don’t.”

While the goal is to get kids learning about STEM at home, Itkonen also said that she hopes that the kits inspire parents to experiment with the tech as well.

“Often a big concern for families borrowing big items like this is they’re afraid they’ll lose something and get hefty fees for that,” she said. “But I want families to know that we do have money set aside and we do expect things to get lost. I don’t want them to be afraid to try it out.”

She added that the library is open to suggestions from the public in terms of what technology they should add next to their fleet of STEM gadgets.

“For the kids, it’s their world. I’m always somebody who advocates for a humanities education, regardless of what career choice you have. But it’s what children’s worlds are,” she said. “From an early age, they’re interacting with tablets. It’s just a different reality than I had.”

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