Local library to expanding educational programs for grade schoolers

By Blake Schnitker on December 24 at 6:00am

The Jacksonville Public Library will begin offering educational programs for local youngsters starting next month.

The local library recently received a grant from the Jacksonville Children’s Foundation, the money from which they plan to use for the expansion of their STEAM program, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Cindy Belke with the Jacksonville Public Library joined WLDS’ AM Conversation Friday to discuss the new grant and the various programs they hope to implement with it. While the library has had its STEAM program for a number of years, Belke says there are now some new activities they’re planning, thanks to the new grant.

“We’ve been doing STEAM progrhttp://wlds.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=50676&action=editamming all along, but I don’t have money to buy computer or 3-D printers and everything, but now we do. We’re going to do a hot wheels speedometry program. We’re going to use hot wheels cars and figure out the best way to make a ramp and how the height of the ramp effects how fast the car goes, we’ll continue that Wednesday. We’re going to build a race course and then we’re going to see how collisions effect a car and change one factor at a time, because this is a scientific process, so we’re going to change one factor at a time and see what difference that makes,” Belke explains.

Belke says that starting next month, there will be several different groups that meet for activities.

“In January we’re going to start three different groups that are going to meet monthly and we’re going to do a different thing with each group each month. The focus of my grant was, there are programs out there for sixth graders and up, but, I’ve got a third grader who’s really into this stuff and I couldn’t find anything for him to do last summer, so I wanted to do something for the younger kids. We’re going to start out with kindergarten to second graders, and we’re going to have them programming pretty simple robots, we’re going to be doing logic puzzles with them and various other games to help them with their logic skills,” says Belke.

She also explains who will make up the other groups and discusses some of the activities they will be doing.

“Then for the second graders to fifth graders, we have two different groups for that. The first one is called ‘Full STEAM Ahead’ and that’s open to anybody, then we have another one called ‘Geeky Girls.’ Both of these groups are going to do the same thing, so they’re going to be getting more into programming things, coding things, we’re going to be creating video games, we’re going to do stop-motion animation, we’re going to be using a 3-D printers, things like that,” says Belke.

For those interested in joining the STEAM program, contact the Jacksonville Public Library at 217-243-5435 to register. And to learn more about these new activities and all that the library offers, listen to our full interview with Belke online at WLDS/WEAI.com.