This morning I've spent a couple of hours down at Central Library with my 5 year old, taking part in one of the Summer Mini Makers workshops that are being run right over the 6 week holidays.
They're moving between our various library buildings and are designed to encourage children to get involved in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities.
Called the MakEY Project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, they're part of a research study by the University of Sheffield to determine how makerspaces in libraries can foster the digital literacy skills and knowledge of children, and their creativity / creative design skills.
And Rowan has had an absolute blast today! We started by making a DrawBot with paper cups, lollipop sticks, felt tip pens, and a motor that when switched on, bounced it's way around a paper sheet drawing colourful patterns. Rowan named his "Kyle" (I don't know why!?) and gave it just the one eye.
Then we moved onto the next table where he drew a blueberry ice cream, a tree, a spider, a "Blue England Flag" and a sunshine up in the corner. Using conductive tape, we added an LED and made the sunshine light up. He was chuffed to bits!
It was then onto the Play Doh table - it turns out that stuff can carry a current (who knew!?) and so we made a couple of weiners, hooked them up to a battery pack and branched LED's across them to make a circuit. Hey presto, light up Play Doh!
Finally we had a crack at some stop motion photography using... get this... an overhead projector. It's been 20 years since I last saw one of those at school. Link it up with an iPad running iMotion though and you have everything you need to make a movie. We plan to set something up at home with all his Lego trucks and cars.
There was even a fruit piano to have a go at, although it wasn't working when we were there. Bananas as piano keys. Touch a banana, the computer plays a note. No idea how that was working, but I'll look it up. I'm sure there's a practical use to think of ;-)
All in all, a cracking session which Rowan has loved. At one point he said to me "Everyime you come to the Library Daddy, I want to come too, it's awesome!". Can't say fairer than that.
The workshops are drop in sessions, so you don't need to book a place, just go along and join in the fun! Link above give dates and times.