Libraries have long been considered store houses of knowledge and learning institutions. While this is still true, libraries are evolving into dynamic learnings centers, full of expanded services. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) classes are one example of expanded services. But why is this in the library?
According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, workers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) earn more than non-STEM workers. Women only hold 23% of STEM jobs, Non-Hispanic Black Americans and Hispanics hold 6% of STEM jobs. In 2011, the Microsoft STEM Survey reported that, “Only one in five college students felt that their K-12 education prepared them for their college courses in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math.”
Libraries have the resources and tools to share knowledge in these academic areas, regardless of gender, race or financial status. Libraries can introduce learners to STEM concepts, the latest technology and new career goals. Our mission at the Denton Public Library is to promote lifelong learning, and teaching STEM classes fulfills this goal. Did you know that the South Branch Library offers a STEAM Ahead program for elementary aged students? This program features different activities, such as engineering challenges, snap circuitry, and basic computer coding. The North Branch Library has the Forge, where one can learn how to 3-D print, produce music, or use our software for design and creative use. Emily Fowler Central Library offers science programs for homeschool groups and Lego clubs for children and teens. To support STEM learning, the South Branch is currently hosting two traveling science based exhibits.
At the 2015 White House Science Fair, President Barack Obama stated, “[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…” STEM is not just about teaching science…it is also about promoting critical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills. Libraries support the needs of children and adults to continuously develop this skillset, afford opportunities for our community to grow and nurture an interest in STEM related fields and to provide equal access of these learning experiences to all.
If you are interested in learning more about our STEM and non-STEM classes, go to http://www.cityofdenton.com/departments-services/departments-g-p/library/classes-events.