• 55°

Science ‘Play2Go’ comes to Boyle: Interactive STEM exhibit opens at library Thursday

A new three-month exhibit will be open for children and families at the Boyle County Public Library on Thursday. Crews are feverishly putting up the many intricate parts for the “Science in Play2Go” exhibit in the children’s library. It’s the largest exhibit it’s hosted so far, says library director Georgia de Araujo.

“This exhibit advances STEM for Danville/Boyle County, which dovetails nicely with programming we’ve been offering to date,” she said. “This just takes it to a whole new level. SIP2GO encourages kids to play, grown-ups to play; but more importantly for kids and grown-ups to play together.”

de Araujo said in the spring of 2016, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives announced the initiative to participate in the partnership with the Kentucky Science Center to offer the exhibit.

“Our children’s library staff attended a program that described the exhibit, its goals and the science center’s plans for touring it to public libraries,” de Araujo said, and decided it would be a wonderful thing to bring to Boyle. The library applied to be a part of the initiative, and was chosen as one of eight across the state to stage the exhibit this year.

Photo contributed
Families are encouraged to visit the Play2Go exhibit together, to explore different STEM offerings.

The exhibit is through the Kentucky Science Center and is described as a progressive, next-generation learning experience. SIP2GO is centered on the “STEM” fields of science technology, engineering and math.

It’s designed specifically for ages 8 and younger, and combines curiosity, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving. The exhibit empowers children and families to learn together by using hands-on activities and by encouraging the simple principle of playing.

It will include the following elements:

• Build your world: Encourages young children to use imaging blocks as representations of real-world objects. The program says playing with large blocks sharpens planning and design skills.

• Build your own roller coaster: Offers exploration in physics and engineering with roller coaster sections and parts that can be manipulated in countless designs and configurations. The program says this promotes problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as encouraging social skills such as teamwork and collaboration, communication and empathy.

• The science depot: A fully integrated program encouraging exploration, experimentation, and family interaction with hands-on applications of real science tools for young children.

• Shapes and stuff store: Encourages inventiveness and flexibility as children explore shape attributes such as color, texture and geometric and numerical skill-building. Shopping for shapes invites a variety of play and learning behaviors that strengthen mathematics and computational thinking skills.

• Ball fall: This activity explores cause and effect, patterns and prediction, and invites problem-solving and collaboration skills.

• Light bright: Lighted colored pegs develop planning and predicting skills while designing and developing patterns and shapes.

Mary Beth Touchstone, former director of the Community Arts Center, is Kentucky Science Center’s education specialist for SIP2GO in Boyle County. She says scientists ask questions, test solutions and find possible answers. They make mistakes and try again.

Photo contributed

“This exhibit encourages kids to be kids — they can try out new ideas, challenge their assumptions, freely make mistakes, and try again — no judgement.” She says all activities in the exhibit provide opportunities to encourage children to think like a scientist.

“I really like that the exhibit combines curiosity, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving in a fun and creative way.”

Touchstone said she was “a high-school science nerd. I took a physiology course one summer and attended a National Science Foundation program, studying physics and calculus at Bennett College another summer. I just couldn’t get enough,” she says. No one should have to wait until high school to discover the world of science, Touchstone adds.

SIP2GO has been traveling to various libraries across Kentucky for close to two years.

Libraries are so much more than books, Touchstone says.

“They are vibrant and essential information hubs for their communities,” she said, adding that Boyle’s library offers outstanding programs on a wide variety of topics, “like managing your digital afterlife and coding for kids … The library’s science lab programs for children have proven to be successful. SIP2GO is a natural addition.”

To contact Touchstone about scheduling a field trip, email mbtouchstone@boylepublib.org or call (859) 238-7323.

IF YOU GO

The public is invited to a ribbon cutting and launch party for the “Science in Play2Go” exhibit at 4 p.m. Thursday. The exhibit is free and open to the public seven days a week. It is geared toward younger students, but all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. School field trips are also being scheduled.