Fort St. John Library News — April 2019

Walk into any elementary, middle, or high school in School District 60 and you’ll likely see some familiar sights: books, science and art supplies, gym equipment, and…robots?

In recent years, schools everywhere have been developing programs to help their students build competency in computational thinking, or “coding.” Through fun exploration in the classroom, students are gaining literacy in the languages of computer programming, as well as developing logic, communication and problem-solving skills. Considering how quickly B.C. and Canada’s technology sectors are growing, being comfortable with these skills early on can be a huge help in preparing students for success.

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Across Canada and beyond, public libraries are keeping step with schools, offering additional out-of-school support for kids to explore and learn. Just as a student learning to read needs to practice and build confidence outside of school in order to grow, students need lots of opportunities to explore computer science and technology.

FSJPL offers bi-weekly STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) exploration to elementary-aged students through the WEIRD Science program. From building rubber-band powered race cars to making slime, this program takes a fun, hands-on approach to learning about everything from chemistry to engineering. The most recent session saw young electrical enthusiasts “hacking” LED tealights for components to build interchangeable circuits. Thus far, one highly sought-after aspect of STEAM has been missing: where is the coding?

A major focus of FSJPL’s new strategic plan is to increase the amount of STEAM programming offered to our patrons, and to eventually offer a circulating collection of STEAM learning tools such as coding robots and circuitry exploration kits. We are off to a good start, with coding robots beginning to make appearances this spring and summer, but we have a long way to go!

To help support the development of this valuable community resource, FSJPL will be holding a fundraiser on Saturday, May 4, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Casey’s Pub. That’s right, Star Wars fans: May the Fourth Be With You! On Star Wars Day, join us for an evening of Star Wars trivia, followed up with a live band!

Casey’s will be offering a “Burger and Brew” fundraising special, with half the proceeds from each meal going directly to children’s STEAM programming. Also on offer will be a 50/50 draw and silent auction. Participation in the trivia night will be free of charge, but every contribution will be a huge help!

On May the 4th, come out to Casey’s and help us find the droids our kids are looking for!

Morgan Churchill is the children’s services and program coordinator at the Fort St. John Public Library.  

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