On Wednesday, September 13th, Akron educators got a taste of space from the safety of their local library.
Using new VR systems from the STEM teacher resource center, NIHF Middle School ambassador Jonnaya led small groups on a trip to the Russian space station. She was demonstrating the potential of new STEM equipment, now available to check out at the Akron Summit Library.
“There’s no denying it’s cool, but it’s also educationally viable,” says Sam Crews, OSLN hub coordinator for Akron. The new STEM Teachers Resource Lab provides a collection of STEM supplies for teachers to rent out, free of charge. By lowering the barrier to entry, he hopes that students in all schools will have access to engaging STEM experiences.
The resource lab is the culmination of over a year of collaboration between Akron Public Schools, the OSLN, the University of Akron, and the Akron Summit Library. Engineering supplies, VR systems, small robots, and a host of other STEM education resources will be housed in the library, free to any local classroom.
“The goal is for this to be a model for every other library in the state,” said Annie Hanson, community outreach director at the University of Akron. “The library has got the right STEM mindset to pull this stuff off.”
By incorporating STEM into the vision of a 21st century library, Crews sees this approach as a promising platform for increasing STEM equity and access – and it won’t stop in Akron.
“This is just an incubator,” he said, “There’s no reason any city or library can’t have a STEM resource center.”
They hope to expand the lab in the years to come, eventually to offer professional development. Most importantly, though, they hope to provide more students with an innovative education.
And maybe a trip to space along the way.
Visit the Akron Summit Library with a library card and teacher ID to check out the following resources for your classroom. For more information, call the Science and Technology Division of the Akron-Summit County Public Library at 330-643-9075.