A few patrons trying out the Code-a-pillar(Submitted photo)

For the last year, the Carver County libraries have been changing up some of their activities. One of the newer events, brought on last year, is the STEM Reading Program. While similar to a regular reading program, it still has a unique flair to keep up with the ideas for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“The core of it is the same,” said Jodi Edstrom, youth services librarian. “We read two to three interspersed with songs and rhymes, but it’s specific with a theme, such as the robot theme coming up.”

Since these themes are a little specific, the stories and rhymes revolve around them. For example, the robot theme will have stories about robots and even an actual robot to show off. Even the activity stations after every story time will pertain to the theme of the day. The technology theme, for example, had a Code-a-pillar, which is a caterpillar robot that codes based on the pieces you attached to it. It will go forward, turn, and generally move based on the piece that is placed.

“We really try to build more of those activities for kindergarten readiness,” said Edstrom.

These story time activities rotate around the county, from Chaska and Chanhassen to Norwood Young America. Last year’s times were extremely successful, and while there won’t be as many this summer as there were the last, there’s still going to be quite a few.

Part of the reason this could happen was a LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) mini grant, which helped provide the funding needed to put the program together.

“We put in a proposal for this grant to be able to fund these story times,” said Edstrom. “We were especially targeting more rural areas that might not have as much access.”

According to Edstrom, this summer will see more of the robotics theme. There will be fictional stories featuring bots as well as non-fiction books. They are simplified for basic concepts, but the education piece is still there for the kids. Despite it just being robots, the kits will still cover each aspect from STEM, even if it’s just something about how magnets work with each other.

For those interested, the next few STEM story times are on the following dates:

Waconia Library – Saturday, June 8 at 10:30am

Waconia Library – Tuesday, June 11 at 10:30am

Waconia Library – Tuesday, June 11 at 6:30pm

Waconia Library – Wednesday, June 12 at 10:30am

Chanhassen Library – Wednesday, June 26 at 10:30am

Victoria Library – Monday, July 15 at 10:30am

According to Edstrom, these are intensive but fun, and the feedback from parents last year was very well received. Every child gets a chance to try something new in a field they probably aren’t too familiar with yet.

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