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STEAM Makerspace teaches homeschooled kids about engineering

By Staff | Jun 1, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Henry Gonzalez-Knowlton, 6, plays with his circuit during the STEAM Makerspace at the Shepherdstown Library on May 24.

Shepherdstown Public Library’s Children’s Department hosted a STEAM Makerspace for homeschool students ages five and up on May 24.

The workshop was one of a series the department has held to encourage children to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“With this program, sometimes I get the same kids, but a lot of times I get new kids, so I walk them through how a circuit works. From there, I encourage them to think of how to make something with a littleBits circuit, Legos and other craft items,” said children’s librarian Christy Hagerty, who said kids love experimenting with the littleBits, which were donated by the Friends of Shepherdstown Library.

Hagerty said she hopes the program, which is currently held every other month, will make the kids want to check out other programs the library offers, like its upcoming Summer Reading 2018 program starting June 4, which will reward kids and teenagers for reading during summer vacation. Some of the rewards this year include Dairy Queen coupons, bracelets, pins and a book of coupons to local stores for those who complete the program by the end of July.

While the summer programming schedule will be open to all Jefferson County students, Hagerty said she’s glad the library can offer workshops for specific groups, like homeschoolers.

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Children’s Librarian Christy Hagerty explains circuit-making to Ambrya Gilbertson, 5, left front; Alyssa Gilbertson, 10; and Asher Gilbertson, 8, at the library’s STEAM?Makerspace workshop on May 24.

“They are a group that often don’t get specific programming for them,” Hagerty said. “It’s nice to reach out to specific groups and let them know they’re welcome – there’s such a large population of homeschoolers here.”

Nicole Gonzalez-Knowlton, who homeschools her three sons, said her family has been attending STEAM workshops since they began.

“I’m really appreciating the town supporting homeschoolers – this is awesome,” said Gonzalez-Knowlton.

“I don’t think many people realize how much money homeschoolers spend to educate our kids, so any help we can get from the city is really nice,” Gonzalez-Knowlton added, mentioning she also uses the library’s interlibrary loan program to supplement her children’s education.

Krissey Gilbertson, a flight attendant, homeschools her two daughters and her son. Gilbertson attended the STEAM Makerspace with her kids for the first time.

“They love to build, but more importantly, they love to interact with other kids,” Gilbertson said. “I hope this will increase their want to do more engineering types of things.”

Gilbertson said they would be attending more children’s programs in the future.

“The children’s librarian here is a huge asset to the community, and she’s so good with the kids,” Gilbertson said.

To find out more about the library’s summer programming, call 304-876-2783 or visit www.lib.shepherdstown.wv.us/.