FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PISCATAWAY, NJ -- This summer the Piscataway Public Library was one of only 33 libraries in the United States and one of only 2 libraries in the state awarded with a grant from Cognizant under the “Making the Future” initiative. The grant, which aims at promoting learning opportunities that are both inspiring and fun, enabled children and teens the opportunity to receive STEM education over the summer free of charge at the library.
STEM - which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - has been receiving much needed attention due to a gap in STEM education and a large demand for STEM job opportunities in the future. Developing a qualified and competent 21st century workforce depends on cultivating and developing interest in these fields among our children and teens.
Piscataway Public Library ran a 8 week Maker Camp in both the Kennedy and Westergard branches for students going into grades 4-12, with separate tracks for 4th to 6th graders and 7th to 12th graders. Programs were held three times a week and ranged anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Students learned about solar power energy, robotics, electronics, art, botany, genetics, music, sewing and more through various interactive projects that they were able to take home.
"Great projects to get kids interested and involved in the MiY movement. It's important to expose kids to technology and MiY projects at an early age. I am very impressed with the MiY room and all the equipment/projects available to everyone," said a parent of one of the MAKE students.
When asked about what he wanted the students to achieve most from the programs, Doug Baldwin, Emerging Technologies Librarian at Piscataway and Project Principal for the Summer of MAKE program said, “My hope was that the program would spark their interests in STEM related activities, ignite a passion for modifying the world around them, and to provide a fun yet enrichment filled environment for exploration, experimentation and learning.”
On Monday, August 25th Piscataway Public Library held a Mini Maker Exhibition to celebrate and showcase the many projects the children and teens made during the Summer of MAKE. The participants, their families, and the public were invited to learn about the the projects as well as make some of their own. Each attendee had the opportunity to enter to win a Summer of MAKE project to take home and build themselves.
The exhibition had over 100 attendees including Piscataway Township Mayor Brian C Wahler, Piscataway Township Councilman Jim Bullard, and State Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who presented the library with a joint legislative resolution naming Piscataway Public Library a “highly esteemed organization within the Middlesex County Community” and congratulating the library on its “efforts in promoting interest and understanding in STEM disciplines that will contribute to a well-prepared future workforce, as well as encouraging generations of innovators and creative thinkers.”
The grant support from the Cognizant Making the Future program allowed Piscataway Public Library to provide 22 programs to 124 students this summer. One parent appreciated the program's ability to be both fun and educational, commenting, "Kids enjoyed the programs they attended. It was a valuable experience to make things from scratch and bring scientific concepts to life."