Even though teachers tell their students to never throw snowballs, that rule was discarded on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Stettler Public Library as kids learned to make homemade, indoor snowball launchers.
Indoor snowballs, otherwise known as marshmallows, were decorated with markers, while the launchers were made from giant tongue depressors, elastics, and plastic spoons.
About 15 kids, ranging in age from five to 15, took the time to make, colour and decorate their launchers before testing them out.
Each child was left to his or her own devices, designing their launchers themselves – though project coordinator Elaine Hoekstra was there to lend a hand when needed.
Though the end result were colourful marshmallow hand-catapults, the fun project is just one way to open the door to STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – to young boys and girls.
Genevieve Lizee, an Erskine resident, brought her three children and one of their friends for the launcher event.
“I like to get out of the house, and of course it’s free,” she said. “And they learn stuff! My youngest especially likes to build stuff.”
Spotting technology loversEven though Gamerz Night might just look like a bunch of children playing games on Stettler Public Library’s computer banks, for Library Manager Matt Barabash it’s a chance to see who might be interested in more technologically-driven offerings.
Running Gamerz Night has given Barabash a chance to get to know the kids who frequent the library, many of whom are now on regular, first-name basis with the new library manager.
Though nothing is yet set in stone, Barabash said someday he’d like to see the library’s makerspace offer activities to teach coding, computer building, networking and Internet coding.
“A lot of the kids that come in here, they’re really excited to talk about computers,” Barabash said.
The library purchased additional laptops after receiving a donation from a local service group, bolstering the numbers of computers that are available for use.
The laptops, being more mobile, can be set up anywhere in the library, though on gaming nights they’re set up on a table adjacent to the existing computer banks.
The games the kids play are educational in some way, Barabash noted. Some build games, some build buildings, but there’s always some learning component.
It was when setting up these additional laptops one time that the idea of more technologically inclined offerings came to mind.
“I barely have to do anything,” he said. “The kids run up to me and offer to help, and set the laptops up themselves. Then they talk to me about how they build this computer at home, or what sort of video cards they want, and things like that.”
The under-utilization of the library’s makerspace is also a factor in the someday possibility of starting more tech courses.
“We have someone here for our makerspace,” Barabash said. “And he’s very underutilized. We’d like to see people come to him and use him more often.”