Recently, a group of science-minded middle schoolers spent an afternoon learning how everyday items like bananas conduct electricity. The bananas were wired to a computer programmed to operate like a piano keyboard by way of a Makey Makey circuit board, which uses closed loop electrical signals that trigger a keystroke or mouse click. The end result: an electronic rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” played entirely on bananas.
The innovative and entertaining lesson was just one of the exciting courses available to San Diego students through Library NExT, a collaboration between the City of San Diego Public Library and Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego that turns local library branches into discovery centers. Kids and teens can sign up for free workshops in everything from kelp forest ecosystems and the chemistry of chocolate to electronic crafting and the science of Harry Potter. As of August 2019, more than 5,600 students have attended Library NExT workshops.
While Library NExT’s offerings may sound like pure fun, they were designed with a bigger purpose in mind: piquing young people’s interest in the STEAM fields, or science, technology, engineering, art and math. Sparking that interest early and providing ample opportunities for kids to get a hands-on introduction helps ensure they will grow up to thrive in the career fields that are not only in demand now, but will be for years to come.
View the full roster of Library NExT workshops on the Sally Ride Science website.