Thursday, February 15, 2018

February is for Library Lovers

If you hate the cold and love the library, February is a fine month to pay us a visit. Here are a few of the activities we have planned:

Friends of the Library Book Sale. Book lovers can find books at incredible bargain prices and support the library at the same time on Saturday, February 17. The Friends of the Library, Gaithersburg Chapter, will hold a book sale in the front lobby. Most items are $1.00 or less. Proceeds benefit the library by funding programs such as STEM workshops and music performances.

Stylized rendering of the year 2018 with an image of a dog above Chinese writing in the middle of the zeroLunar New Year Celebration. On February 17 we'll also welcome the Year of the Dog with a music and dance performance by Li-Ming Chinese Academy. Starting at 2:00 PM, you can watch Shadow Puppetry, Yo-Yo demonstrations, hands-on Chinese arts, and a Lion Dance. Bring the kids!

Buglass Talk on Thurgood Marshall. On Saturday, February 24, local historian Ralph Buglass will discuss Thurgood Marshall's groundbreaking 1937 legal case that won equal pay for African American teachers in Montgomery County. The little known case was the first step in Thurgood's drive to have "separate but equal" education declared unconstitutional. Join us for this important history lesson commemorating Black History Month. The talk is provided by the Montgomery County Historical Society and takes place at 11:00 AM.

Senior Tech Series, Open Session. Our popular series of tech classes for seniors is back. There is still time to sign up for this session on Sunday, February 25, at 2:00 PM. In this class you're free to ask the instructor about anything: internet, email, Facebook, tablets, or phones. To register, call 240-773-9490.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DiVerse Poets to Gather on Sundays in 2018

Essayist and poet Lucinda Marshall is no stranger to the literary scene at Gaithersburg Library. For the last three years the area writer has led this branch's Teen Writers' Club under the auspices of the Maryland Writers' Association.

Come January, Marshall will kick off a new forum for area poets, the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic. Along with featured poets, each reading will offer opportunities for discussion and a chance for others to share their poetry.

Old fashioned typewriter with a piece of paper in it.

DiVerse Gaithersburg will take place on the second Sunday of each month from 2:00 to 4:00 PM on the second floor of the library. For more information, visit the DiVerse Poetry website.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Coffee and Cookies and Cops, Oh My!

Gaithersburg Library Staff with Visiting Police Officer
Gaithersburg Library, in partnership with Montgomery College, hosted its first "Coffee with a Cop" event on Wednesday, November 15. Montgomery County police officers were invited to enjoy coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies in the lobby of the library.

The event was open to the public and was attended by dozens of local residents, as well as staff from the library, the Charles W. Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center, and Montgomery College. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about our local law enforcement from the officers who serve our community.

Montgomery College provided the refreshments and, as an added benefit, children who attended were also awarded honorary police "badges" to wear. We are grateful to our local cops for coming out to interact with the community and look forward to another "Coffee with a Cop" event in the future!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ScienceTellers Sail into the Library November 4

On November 4 the whole family can set sail with us on an action-packed adventure about a crew of quirky pirates marooned on a deserted island.

ScienceTellers' "Tall Ships and Pirate Tales" will engage children with the story of a marooned crew that must rescue their captain and build a ship before all hope is lost… at sea! With possible mutiny and high-tide looming, they must find a way to construct planks, sails, rigging, rails, everything a pirate ship needs to get off the island.

Man using a small leaf blower to propel toilet paper over a crowd of delighted children.

Throughout the story, volunteers from the audience will help explore the science behind clouds, flash paper, air pressure, inertia, explosions, and more. The program is designed around various Next Generation Science Standards, so kids may recognize some concepts and be introduced to new material in the fields of physics and chemistry.

The adventure starts at 11:00 AM, November 4, on the second floor of the Gaithersburg library. All aboard to experience this refreshing nautical tale with a twist!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sensational Summer STEM Programs Delight and Educate

Can you name the parts of a computer? Isolate DNA from a strawberry? Program a robot to jump into a pool of water? You could answer a resounding "yes" if you were among the many kids who participated in our recent series of activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Girl examining light red liquid in a plastic cupIn June and July, we introduced STEM Smart, a series of hands-on science sessions for ages 10-14 led by volunteers from Adventure in Science and the AAAS/SSE STEM Volunteer Program. Dozens of eager kids attended sessions in strawberry DNA extraction, disassembling computers to identify their parts and functions, kitchen chemistry, and chocolate making.

In mid-July, we also hosted a two-week robotics camp for girls aged 9-15, generously funded by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and sponsored by Everybody Code Now! The robotics camp was taught by teen volunteers and was spearheaded by Cindy Shi, a high school student who is no stranger to STEM programming in the library. In the summer and fall of 2016, Shi taught two sessions of "Girls Just Want to Compute," a Python coding class, in the library's computer lab.

Group of children examining a computer parts and a dismantled computer
Can you identify all the parts of a computer? These kids can!
"Girls are underrepresented in computer science, so I wanted to break the stereotype that technology is only of interest to boys" Shi explained. "After leading the Python coding classes at the library, I learned that I have the ability to teach and wanted to give some girls a chance to try robotics."

Using Sphero Edu software, the girls learned to write programs to change the appearance and sounds of their Sphero bots, as well as chart each bot's course. Working in teams, they plotted a course for the bots that included running up a ramp into a tub of water, a feat that required them to determine the amount of momentum needed to clear the water.

Among the motivations volunteers have for offering hand-on science experiments is to engage and inspire young people to pursue education and careers in STEM fields. But the programs also give exposure to science as it is actually practiced, rather than as a set of theories or facts.
Boy holding up a beaker of clear liquid
According to STEM Smart instructor Venkatamaran Srinivasan, exploration is central to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). He notes that that science is more a process than a product, and that practicing scientists and engineers must learn to manage changing variables that affect the outcome of experiments.

The best part of STEM programs at the library, however, is that they're fun! After all, what's better than a science experiment you can eat or teaching a Sphero bot to swim?

Check out the video below for some highlights from our girls' robotics program, and stay tuned for more STEM programming throughout the year.