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Youth Services Workshops

Workshop Wrap Up

Thanks to those of you who attended the fall Youth Services Workshops! A total of 145 attended the 6 sessions. Each session held a different presentation or tour of the venue, each related to the 2014 STEM SRP theme; here are some highlights:

RAFT (Resource Area For Teachers), Denver
RAFT is an amazing resource for all types of educators. Besides a huge warehouse of really inexpensive items for crafty projects and all types of educational programs (anything from carpet squares for a quarter to solar cells  for $4), it is a giant warehouse of ideas as well. Can’t get there in person? They have loads of excellent Idea Sheets online for you to print out that align with CO school curriculum standards, most of which use commonly found items, searchable by topic and grade level.

We also had the opportunity to engage in the traveling exhibit Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child from the Hawkins Centers of Learning. Check out the exhibit content online and ponder how this approach to engaging children in exploring their curiosity and science concepts might work in your library. Karen Alfino, leader of STEMGirls, also led the group in a fun, hands-on engineering program to create greeting cards by assembly line (find the activity here!).

Rifle Gap State Park, Rifle
This beautiful state park was a lovely setting for our northwestern session. The warm weather allowed us to have lunch and blow bubbles outside. The park’s naturalist presented an excellent program on figuring out characteristics of local animals from their skulls that you might find in a park or elsewhere, such as whether the animal is a predator or serves as prey based on placement and size of eye sockets and snouts.

We learned a tip great for all CO libraries: CO’s state parks have a mission to provide outreach programs for free, so contact the state park nearest your library to schedule a naturalist to present programs this summer or anytime.

Wilkinson Public Library and the Pinhead Institute, Telluride
Our western session in Telluride was a bit snowy in the morning but what a beautiful setting! Many thanks to the staff at the lovely Wilkinson Public Library for hosting this session so graciously. We had a great presentation from the Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian Affiliate and international network of leading scientists that supports many educational outreach programs in the area. Pinhead staff led us in a fun engineering activity in which we created a vehicle with squares of fabric, a balloon, and other easy-to-find items to safely cushion an egg as it drops to the floor in its vehicle.

Pinhead has created 2 types of science kits, called Pinhead Packs, that are available to libraries for sale (a great use of mini-grant funds!). Check out the contents of the Rockin’ Rocks and The Science of Snow packs online and contact Pinhead for info on purchases.

Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo
This is a beautiful nature center that provides unique experiences in education, conservation and recreation. Located right on the Arkansas River, the 34-year-old center includes a wildlife rehabilitation facility that specializes in birds of prey. Each year more than 200 injured and orphaned raptors are admitted to the facility from throughout southeastern Colorado. Our workshop was held in the center’s yurt—a first for all of us!

The Raptor Center’s staff presented an excellent session on its work and informed us about the fascinating world of owls using Oberon the beautiful barred owl, pictured here, as our patient model. Nature Center staff also led us through 2 fun, hands-on activities, one on riversheds and the other on aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Adams State University, Alamosa
The Nielsen Library at the University was the site of our workshop, with our meeting room fittingly right next to the children’s reading room.

We later took a trip across campus to the planetarium, where we received an excellent demonstration of the many programs they offer to students and, through a STEM grant, to the general public—for free! From astronomy to tours of the earth through huge aerial photos to programs for preschoolers, you can find it at this planetarium. And we learned that some libraries can borrow a Starlab—a portable, inflatable planetarium—from their local BOCES, so check out that possibility in your area!

Poudre Learning Center, Greeley
The last workshop was held at another beautiful riverside venue, this one along the Cache la Poudre River. In our workshop room, the center’s classroom, we were surrounded by live snakes, frogs, fish, and toads (all securely enclosed, of course). The center offers important environmental education programs for students, educators, and the larger community.

The Center’s staff collected water samples from river and gave us the opportunity to examine them for aquatic macroinvertebrates. We all had fun trying to spot, scoop, and identify the small water dwellers using magnifying glasses and microscopes.


Contact Beth Crist, 303-866-6908

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