The fun of learning

Article image - The fun of learning Blurring the line between work and play, Narrabri Shire libraries present a vibrant STEM program to engage young minds.

Libraries are now instrumental in supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education in younger children. 

Having developed strong partnerships with science professionals from surrounding research stations, industry and businesses, Narrabri Shire Libraries, New South Wales, are able to provide a program of STEM activities, including school holiday activities which are supported by their regional library agreement partner, Central Northern Regional Library. 

Holiday events include robotics, circuitry workshops, straw construction and engineering, LEGO workshops, creative catapult construction and balloon car racers.

During the school term, local science professionals present a regular after school science program, each showcasing a scientific principle from their field of expertise.

The pinnacle of Narrabri Shire’s STEM programming is the STEM Investigation Awards, which allows children to work collaboratively to produce a project based on a scientific hypothesis. 

The object of the awards was to promote innovation and engagement in STEM. 

It also provided hands on, real world practical experience in STEM areas.

Because of the number of external partners involved in the exercise, it also provides opportunities for STEM organisations to network and collaborate with each other and with schools. 

Ninety projects, from eight schools across Narrabri Shire, were submitted last year to be judged. 

Five hundred and eighty-eight students were directly involved with creating the projects. 

One hundred and fifty-five students from Infants to High School attended the day of judging, while outlying students who could not physically attend spoke to the judges about their learning experiences via Skype, in the spirit of fostering technology.

While the students in attendance were waiting to speak about their projects, volunteers ran STEM based activities to add value to the student learning experience. 

The activities on offer included robotics, construction straw tower building competitions, extracting DNA from strawberries and friction races.