“How would you build a structure out of marshmallows and pieces of spaghetti?”
That was the challenge Gina Gigliotti, 100 Mile library branch assistant, gave children last Friday at the first Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Workshop. Over the next hour, the children – aged five to 12 – built model towers, pyramids and other designs.
“Of course, they ate the marshmallows, which is OK with me,” Gigliotti said. “It teaches them about engineering. It makes them use their brains to see how things are tilting, how they can fix it and overcome it.”
Annalisa Patenaude who homeschools her son Miles, 8, decided to bring him to the event, saying it would be a great opportunity for him to socialize. A few weeks earlier, she had done a similar activity with him, using q-tips in place of spaghetti.
“It’s great, I find it super friendly and I like the initiatives the library takes to engage the community and include everybody,” Patenaude said. “It just gets their creative juices flowing and they just learn without the boundaries.”
Joseph Kiewitz, 7, said he had fun building the towers with his friend Miles.
“It was actually more fun than using toothpicks,” Joseph said. “My first one tipped over and I had to eat the rest of the marshmallows.”
After they built their structures, Gigliotti tested the students’ memories. Each was tasked with remembering the contents of a box and then identifying which item she had removed. She said the class went really well and while some of them were shy at first, they made new friends.
“It’s all about learning engineering and math and providing a good social environment for them to learn,” Gigliotti said. “It’s not a school activity. You don’t have to sit at attention or have assignments. It’s fun, it’s social and yes they learn but they can talk and walk around. You have the older ones with the little ones but they all learn how to cooperate and work as a team.”
Brittany Henderson brought her son Bennett Roberts, 5. As they’re new to the community, she wanted to give Bennett a chance to make new friends.
“I think it will help him in the future for sure, depending on his line of work,” Henderson said. “Bennett likes it. He’s shy but it’s good for him to be out here with other kids.”
The STEM Workshop will run at least once a month for the rest of the school year, according to Gigliotti. The next workshop is scheduled for Feb. 24 and she encourages parents to check out the library’s Facebook page for updates on the workshops and other events.
“We’re just trying to get more activities in the library for people to have the option to use.”
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