Once a month, the Highland County Public Library fills with aspiring scientists and engineers from across the county cultivating an environment for learning. Despite their young age, these kids have an opportunity to expand their knowledge in problem solving, design and construction, and critical thinking through the Highland County 4-H STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) after-school program.
The Highland County 4-H STEM after-school program started in September 2013 in partnership with the Highland County Public Library. The monthly meetings are open to youth ages 9 to 18. The program attracts youth from the public, private, and home school systems with most of the participants in grades four through seven.
Highland County Extension Technician Paxton Grant works with librarian Tomi Herold and Program Coordinator Sue Cornelius to plan, promote, and present activities. In addition to the staff, the library provides funding, equipment, and training to support the STEM activities. Activities focus largely on hands-on skills to encourage design, problem solving, and critical thinking. Engineering projects have included design and construction of catapults, cranes, bridges, wind powered vehicles, kites, and battery powered robots. Science lessons have investigated the power of magnets, the pH of household liquids, and rates of food decomposition.