Kickstarted into high gear, Pima County Public Library Goes All Out for STEM

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The Pima County Public Library (PCPL) enthusiastically supports the 2013 Arizona SciTech Festival. John Munoz, Youth Services Senior Librarian, described his introduction to the festival: 

 “What really spurred us on to participation was that kick-off [Arizona SciTech Kickoff Conference]… There was the kickoff invitation, I was sent by Gina [Macaluso, Coordinator of Youth Services at PCPL] to go check it out, and then I was extremely impressed with what I saw. That’s where all of this happened. I immediately began thinking in terms of a system-wide approach—you know, we’ve got 27 branches, let’s try to do as many programs… as we can during those five weeks.”

This year, the library has reached out across their entire system to offer Arizona SciTech Festival programs, like Science Saturdays. “It’s very exciting to be able to get behind that, because STEM is becoming almost something that you take for granted,” said Mr. Munoz. “It might have been more cutting-edge, educationally speaking, ten years ago, but now it’s ‘This is something that we need, something that we want to support as a society.’”

PCPL reflects the drive to change attitudes about education, and the need to help young kids experience career paths they may not have considered. The librarian pointed out that not so long ago, kids received minimal exposure to STEM or to the careers that involved STEM—maybe in high school, maybe at the very end, maybe never. They studied science in middle and high school, and certainly studied math throughout school, but they would not have touched on subjects like engineering or technology in school.

Events like PCPL’s Science Saturdays give ten-year-olds the chance to see somebody’s career—to see what that person does—at a time when the kids are starting to think about their own futures. As Mr. Munoz observed, they will be able to ask themselves, “Well, what DO I want to do? What do I need to do to prepare myself for that career?”

 

By Debbie Gubernick: debbie@gubernick.com

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