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Mount Angel Public Library has set up the first of its STAR Net STEAM Equity Project learning stations.

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Mount Angel Library Director Jackie Mills demonstrates the interactive learning at one of the librarys new Star Net STEAM Equity Project funded stations.The student worksheet handout serves at once as an informative piece of paper and material to make a paper helicopter.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Mount Angel Public Library was among 12 libraries national to receive a Star Net STEAM Equity Project grant, announced late in 2020. Last week the library set up learning stations afforded through that funding.

The lesson is straight forward: "NASA's Perseverance Mars rover, launching in July 2020, will carry the first helicopter to the surface of Mars! This helicopter has to be super lightweight to fly on Mars. It also needs large blades that can rotate really fast so it can generate enough lift to overcome the gravity of the Red Planet and lift off the ground."

The handout proceeds to instruct students how to cut paper with scissors to create their own "helicopter," furnishing a blueprint for the process on the back, which they can send through the furnished wind tunnels to see how well it flies.

Two wind tunnels accommodating lessons are among several Star Net STEAM Equity Project learning stations recently set up at the Mount Angel Library. The local library was one of only 12 libraries nationwide to receive grant funding for the project, which is designed for rural libraries in communities with sizable Latino populations. The lessons are provided in two languages.

Mount Angel announced that it received the $15,000 grant in late 2020. Other libraries receiving grants were in: Berryville, Arkansas; Blue Island, Illinois; Burley, Idaho; Hondo, Texas; Madera County, California; Montrose Regional, Colorado; North Central Washington (Quincy); Palm Springs, Florida; Pioneer, Oklahoma; and Safford City, Arizona.

In Mount Angel, hopes are that in-person library activities will resume soon, and the current STEAM stations will be a welcome part of that. The current stations will be in place through early May, at which point they will be swapped out with new exhibits.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Signs in English and Spanish instruct kids on what they can do at the new learning stations set up in Mount Angel Public Library.

"Right now, for sure, we are using these for field trips with local schools," MA Library Director Jackie Mills said. "When we can return to in-person programs, we will have live programs designed around this."

Mills noted that from the public's point of view, there are several components of the three-year grant: a different annual exhibit for three months each year; at least three programs per year; STEAM kits that are available for checkout, which she is in the process of putting together; and exploration spaces that are in place when the exhibit is not at the library for the remaining 9 months of a given year.

The current exhibit is an exploration about space.

Other hands-on projects include a "Parachute Parade." That lesson explains:

"Skydivers rely on parachutes to slow them down as they fall from frightening heights. Parachutes catch air and create a drag, a force that works against gravity. Parachutes are usually large and made of lightweight materials, so they create the most drag possible without adding a lot of weight."

The project introduces youth to parachutes, provides for brainstorming sessions to plan and build one, a session to predict how it will work and then reflection on the results.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Mount Angel Library Director Jackie Mills looses a Mars helicopter through the wind tunnel at the library, interactive learning stations afforded through a Star Net STEAM Equity Project grant.

Another project involves building a windmill that lifts weight. Its introduction explains:

"Windmills have been used for thousands of years to grind grain, pump water and even generate electricity. They lost popularity as new sources of energy, such as fossil fuels, arose. But the idea of using wind for energy has made a comeback in recent decades, and careers in wind energy are growing rapidly as the demand for clean energy increases."

Still other parts of the library's current exhibit include plaques that explain some medical marvels; a whiteboard for brainstorming sessions that encourages students to identify innovative "Community Super Heroes;" and a short biography of a young, exemplary civil engineer, Ms. Isamar, who has worked with Engineers Without Borders and Bridges to Prosperity.

"I am inspired everyday by the work I do as a civil engineer and the people I do it for, because I can help innovate, create and build a better future for us all. Civil engineering allows me to dream big!" Ms. Isamar said.

Online resources

Learn more about the Star Net STEAM Equity Project at this American Library Association website: ala.org/tools/programming/steamequity.

Learn more about this and other Mount Angel Public Library events and activities at: mtangelpubliclibrary.com/.

Learn more about STEM resources at ed.gov/stem.


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