WA Secretary of State Blogs

It all started with a training offered by the Washington State Library…

We received this message from Jamie Allwine, the Library Manager at Timberland’s Winlock Library.  It was such a great story that we asked her permission to share it.  Thanks Jamie, you’ve made our day.

The Winlock Library’s ascent into STEM really started with a WSL workshop that Joe Olayvar and Evelyn Lindberg put on at Timberland’s Service Center.  I had never touched a programmable robot but I left that day KNOWING that the kids (all ages) of Winlock would love them.  On my way out the door, I ran the idea by my supervisor and the director and they both gave me the green light to pursue robotics.  I contacted my Friends group and they enthusiastically funded the purchase of two Legos Mindstorms EV3 Core kits.  We now own four of the Core kits and three expansion sets.  Although we routinely hold formal “Robots Rock” programs, all of our equipment is available on demand.  Kids (often families) can come in any time and ask to use the “toys”, and we happily get them out.

Why am I so committed to STEM?  When I was a kid, we needed to learn the 3 R’s.  But kids today also need a strong foundation in a new language–coding.  As with all languages, the earlier that a child is exposed, the easier they pick it up.  Although there are many schools who provide STEM programs, most are still focused on the teaching and testing of the original 3 R’s.  I read a study that said only 10% of school aged kids have access to STEM programming, and that is often on a limited basis and sometimes not until high school.  For many kids, we are really missing that ideal window of opportunity to introduce coding, construction, robotics, etc.  I believe that through the public library system, we can help bridge that gap.

Winlock currently offers programming with the Legos EV3s, Dash & Dot, Ozobots, Snap Circuits, Code-a-pillars, Eggbots and a wide variety of building toys, such as Legos, Lincoln Logs, K’nex, and Erector sets.  We participated in the Hour of Code™ during Computer Science Education Week.  We have borrowed the Legos We-Do 2.0 kits from our service center and the Roominate kits from the Washington State Library.  Our kids have loved them all!

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