Now you’re playing with power

Kids learn basics of electricity with circuit kits at library

The next generation of electrical engineers got its start at the Stettler Public Library this weekend with Circuit Mania.

The afternoon event, held on Saturday, Nov. 22, invited kids to put their creativity to work using either Lego bricks or the Snap Circuits Jr. kits recently acquired by the library.

While eight kids were pre-registered for the event, programming assistant Elaine Hoekstra said the actual turnout was closer to 30 kids, ranging from Kindergarten students to middle schoolers.

Hoekstra said she was “ecstatic” about the turnout, noting that some of the kids had to share since the library has 20 circuit kits.

Each kit contains about 30 pieces — switches, wires, motors, resistors, integrated circuits and other components — plus the base grid that allows the user to put the pieces together.

The library hosts a Lego afternoon every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., but this was the first time organizers added the circuit kits, purchased this past year for use with the summer literacy program.

The kits also contain plans for different projects to build using the included pieces. Kids in attendance were quickly building circuits to power small light bulbs and run fans.

With enough power, the tiny fan blades could come loose and fly off, Hoekstra said, adding, “I’ve got one stuck up in a duct.”

The projects were powered by AA batteries, and the kids quickly learned that adding more battery sockets allowed for more power, while longer and more complex circuits had increased resistance.

Library manager Mary Zazelenchuk said that a growing trend in libraries is to introduce spaces and programs where guests can actively use their creativity, instead of just passively consuming the material.

“We’re hoping these are tiny steps toward having our own ‘maker space,’” added assistant manager Crystal Friars.

In addition to the Snap Circuit Jr. sets, the library has also acquired littleBits electronic kits and MaKey MaKey invention kits, which allow the user to turn ordinary household objects into game controllers or computer input devices.

The library’s location proved beneficial on Saturday, as some parents attending the Christmas bazaar or bringing their older kids to hockey games sent the younger ones over to check out the activities.

Hoekstra, who also leads tutoring sessions on Tuesdays, said the library plans to host another Circuit Mania afternoon on Saturday, Dec. 13.


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