By MORGAN BROWN/Montana State News
The Children’s Museum of Bozeman has extended its programming to teenagers up to the age of 18 with its introduction of high-tech equipment in the recently constructed STEAMlab.
The STEAMlab is a relatively new addition to the Children’s Museum, built to encourage interest in the STEAM fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Executive Director Eleanor Barker said, “We’ve been offering STEAMlab programs since August, and what we’ve found is that there is a huge interest among kids in learning how to use these 21st century tools—like 3D printers, microprocessors and microcomputers, various programming languages—but also a tremendous need for parents, who want to support their children’s interest in these fields, but don’t have the expertise to do it themselves.”
Currently the programs are being designed and partly facilitated by STEAMlab coordinator, John Allwine, however, talented professionals in the community lead most programs in the STEAMlab on a volunteer basis.
“What we’re doing in the STEAMlab augments what kids are already learning in school, and offers them some really meaningful hands-on opportunities to interact with technology in a safe, mentor-led environment,” Barker said.
In one of the programs that will run this spring, 3-D Printing 101, children ages 8 and up will design anything from jewelry to Legos on the STEAMlab computers and print them on 3-D printers, all while learning the fundamentals of 3-D engineering.
Also meeting in the STEAMlab this spring is the Gallatin Girls Coding Club, where talented coders in the area will teach young women to write code. The club is exclusively for high school girls in the Gallatin Valley.
Make it in Minecraft, Arduino 101, and Brickmakers Workshop, an interactive Lego design studio, were included in the fall programming of last year, and were largely successful in interesting teens and tweens around the Bozeman community. All three programs will be available again this spring.
The schedule for STEAMlab spring programming is currently being developed. For more information about STEAMlab programming or to get involved, visit the Children’s Museum website at www.cmbozeman.org.
– Edited by Abraham Feigenbaum