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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.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Celebrating Writers, Old and Young

Gaithersburg Spanish Book Club
Author Mario Bencastro at Gaithersburg Library
Our local literary scene continues to thrive as we kicked off June at the Gaithersburg Library with two writer events.

Salvadoran author Mario Bencastro talked about his life and work the evening of Tuesday, June 6. Bencastro is the award-winning writer of several works of fiction and a collection of poems, Waves of the East River. His most recent novel, The Mansion of Oblivion, was published in 2015. House of Culture and Montgomery County Sister Cities sponsored this successful event that was attended by members of the library’s Spanish Book Club.

Chalked text of the Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme with a chalked drawing of a catOn June 8 the library’s Teen Writers’ Club finished up another successful year with their third annual sidewalk chalking event on the pavement outside the library. Teen members transcribed and illustrated familiar nursery rhymes for the area’s children to enjoy.


Sidewalk chalk of the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with a chalk picture of the moon.












Keep an eye on the Gaithersburg website for future events, and information about future meetings of the Teen Writers’ Club, which will resume meeting on September 20.




Teens chalking text and pictures on the walkway of Gaithersburg Library.
Teens making chalk art outside Gaithersburg Library


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sunday Jazz at the Gaithersburg Library with the Eastern Standard Time Quartet

What do musical greats Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Danny Gatton, Placido Domingo, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder have in common? They’ve all performed with members of the Eastern Standard Time jazz quartet, featuring Chris Vadala on saxophone, Rick Whitehead on guitar, Barry Hart on percussion, and John Previti on bass.

The Eastern Standard Time quartet playing their instruments
The Eastern Standard Time Quartet
All four musicians hail from the East Coast and enjoy performing jazz standards (think “Stella by Starlight” and “Caravan”), hence the group’s name. Their recently released first album has been called a “musicianship…standard of excellence.”

We’re excited and honored to be hosting this talented group of musicians for an afternoon of jazz at Gaithersburg Library on Sunday, June 4 at 2 PM. The concert will take place on the second floor of the library.

Best of all, this show is FREE and open to everyone. Join us for an afternoon of outstanding music!

Here's a sample of the Eastern Standard Time quartet performing at the 2016 Takoma Park Jazz Festival -