STEM Kits @ Alcona County Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Summer 2017 has been wonderful at the branches of the Alcona County Library (ACL).  Located in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Alcona County has a population of just over 10,000 along the scenic shores of Lake Huron. Alcona is comprised of  695 square miles, including 36 miles of Lake Huron coastline. While 70% of our land is forested, 1/3 includes Huron-Manistee National Forest land. ACL has four branches in Harrisville, Hubbard Lake, Lincoln, and Mikado, Michigan, and has a staff of 15 of which three are full time staff members.

This year the Summer Reading theme was “Build a Better World.” ACL used YALSA and Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant funding to purchase STEM kits to rotate among the branches. There are seven kits: of the seven, two rotate to three of the branches and one to the remaining branch every other week.  The kits include: snap circuits, Laser Maze, Circuit Maze, Strawbees with Quirkbots, Q ba Maze, MagFormers, and MakeBlock. Concepts in these kits are marble mazes, robotic kits, electrical kits, and magnetic building kits.

The kits are sent to each branch and area young adults may build and play with the kits when they are there. The most popular are the Q ba Maze (Marble maze building set) and the MagFormers (magnetic building set) since they are easy to handle and conceptualize.

Staff members have noticed that more freeplay is happening when the kits are easily available. ACL has planned a Maker Space Day at the Harrisville Branch in September to assist the youth of the community to use these kits effectively, and we plan to do more Maker Space days through the school year.

Denise Bearre has been a librarian since 1991. Her career has been exclusively in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. She holds an MLS from Wayne State University in Detroit. She has been employed as a librarian at the Sterling Heights Public Library, a Circulation Manager at the Traverse Area District Library, a Librarian at the Pugsley Correctional Facility, and Library Director at Inkster Public Library and currently at the Alcona County Library in beautiful Harrisville, Michigan. Ms Bearre is grateful and proud of the efforts her staff and board have put forth to have the Alcona County Library be a vital part of the community. While serving as a librarian, she has successfully raised 4 children with her husband Clyde. Denise enjoys reading, gemstone collecting, and anything related to Giant Pandas.

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