This summer, the Randallstown Branch of Baltimore County Public Library received a Dollar General/YALSA grant. Randallstown is located on the west side of Baltimore County. Our summer population teen population visits daily. Many teens walk to the branch both after school as well as during the summer. Our branch features the highest computer use in the county.
We used the funding to offer additional summer programs. In conjunction with the “Universe of Stories” summer reading theme, we sought programs that connected to astronomy and space science. We marketed these programs heavily to schools and on in-branch flyers. Programs were also featured in the system’s summer calendar.
In addition, one of our staff filmed an internal video for staff across the system. This let the entire system know about the background of the grant. This video was taped after we had confirmed dates; it also highlighted the programs we were presenting.
We sought to use this money to provide programs featuring outside presenters. We serve summer lunches and provide daily activities in conjunction with that initiative. Staff researched a variety of potential options including NASA, the Maryland Science Center, Baltimore Robotics Club, and the National Museum of Aeroscience. We decided to go with two local presenters: Future Makers and The Science Guys of Baltimore. The branch and the system have worked with these partners in the past. Both groups have a reputation for engaging well with both kids and teens.
Programs were scheduled throughout the summer. In June, Future Makers presented two standalone programs: Build it: Mechanical Rovers and Build it: Light Orbiting Machines. This allowed us to capitalize on interest in the first month of summer reading. Eight teens attended Mechanical Rovers, and twelve attended Light Orbiting Machines.
In the mechanical rovers program, teens explored how to modify devices to move over different types of terrain. In the light program they discussed centrifugal force before creating mechanisms that spun and glowed. These machines featured motors, batteries, and LEDs. Attendees got to take all assembled projects with them at the end of the sessions.
The Science Guys presented DIY Comets and Vacuums on July 31. In this program, teens worked in groups to make their own comets from dirt, sand, and even dry ice. Participants also experienced putting things into a space “vacuum.” Each group member shared their experiments to one another. Twelve teens attended the program. Sessions focused primarily on collaboration. Teens worked independently as well as in small groups. At the end of each session, attendees showcased their items.
Sarah Smith is the Manager and Ife N. Allette is a Librarian at Randallstown Library.