Family friendly free STEAM kits will be available at the McLean County Public Library beginning May 4.

The Kentucky Science Center “Do Science at Home” STEAM kits encourage families to learn together by exploring the world at a microscope level, building automata puppets, learning how to use force to create artwork, build a tripwire and understand the science behind weaving patters, according to the center.

The kits are provided by a $150,000 Institute of Museum and Library Services grant through the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.

Kit themes include Material Master, Inventors Lab, Secret Agent and Artistic Chaos. The kits are focused on developing science, technology, engineering, art and math in a fun way, according to the center.

Each kit comes with guided instructions and additional resources for exploration for families with students in grades three through six. New kits will arrive in May, July and August.

“These kits provide a hands-on experience for families in their homes in a completely screen-free way,” said Chief Executive Officer at Kentucky Science Center Mike Norman. “After a year of disrupted learning due to the global pandemic, these fun activities offer a chance to step away from the computer and learn together in a very relaxed setting. As the state science center of Kentucky, we believe in Science for All, that everyone should have the opportunity to Do Science in fun and engaging ways. By promoting science literacy, we nurture a world of life-long learners that ask questions, work together, problem solve, and think creatively to make a better quality of life for everyone.”

KDLA Commissioner, State Librarian, and Archivist and Records Administrator Terry Manuel said the kits come as a result on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In response to the pandemic, both educators and parents teaching their children at home have been encouraged to consider alternative learning practices in order to cross the digital divide of internet access. The $150,000 grant from KDLA is one tangible way that we can help children learn through their local public libraries,” he said.

Manuel said the kits will provide young Kentucky public library patrons with encouragment to move away from computer screens and encounter science in their own homes.

“Creative experiences, such as these STEAM kits, will give young Kentucky public library patrons encouragement to move away from the computer screen and encounter science in their own homes. The kits stimulate inquisitive minds, encouraging children to seek answers to ‘why’ and ‘how’ instead of just ‘what’, and to consider the process of science instead of just the product, or the result, of an experiment. By exploring creativity through a scientific lens, reading research, and improving problem-solving skills, these kits will enrichen the learning experience and encourage a lifelong love of learning and literacy,” Manuel said.

According to the center, the recent school year exposed the digital divide in which 36% of Kentucky students lack adequate internet access and additional gaps for families struggling across the state to implement digital learning alternatives.

The kits will assist statewide and local initiatives to eliminate gaps in STEAM scholastic and at-home learning experiences available to students.

More than 12,000 kits will be distributed to counties statwide inlcuding Boyd, Bracken, Breathitt, Butler, Caldwell, Christian, Clinton, Cumberland, Daviess, Floyd, Hardin, Johnson, Kenton, McLean, Meade, Mercer, Metcalfe, Monroe, Muhlenberg, Oldham, Perry, Scott and Trimble.

Registration is available by calling the library at 270-278-9184.

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