Kids can create an interactive toy, code a robot, build a play garden and design outfits. There’s a STEM kit for every age and interest. And thanks to a collaborative effort between Newton’s Road—a Traverse City non-profit working to connect K-12 children with STEM learning—and Traverse Area District Library (TADL), STEM kits ranging from building sets to card games are now available in all 21 regional libraries in the five-county area (Antrim, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau).
The partnership began in 2019 between Barb Termaat, executive director of Newton’s Road, and Andy Schuck, TADL’s youth services coordinator. TADL’s main branch on Woodmere had about 80 STEM kits in circulation, but they weren’t being heavily used. Termaat asked Schuck if they’d be interested in partnering with Newton’s Road to increase access and interest.
“Children really benefit from the hands-on, tinkering nature of STEM kits, so it’s important for us as librarians to make sure every child in our region has the opportunity to try them,” Schuck says. “Seeing the moment that the proverbial light bulb turns on as they experiment never gets old.”
The ripple effect has resulted in teachers borrowing the kits to incorporate into their lesson plans, STEM kit days at libraries and STEM kit activities at family events.