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Pocatello library to open hands-on exploration center for children

The Yost-Ashcroft Family STEAM Exploration Center at the Marshall Public Library will be unveiled to the community on March 1. | Logan Ramsey,
POCATELLO — An educational exploration center for children at the Marshall Public Library will open soon.
The Yost-Ashcroft Family STEAM Exploration Center at the library will be unveiled on March 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. (STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.)
Library officials said that this center will provide hands-on educational activities in core subjects and help children develop their literacy in them.
“Our library is more than a collection of books,” said Trina Bonman, assistant director of the Marshall Public Library. “The new exploration center is just one more thing we can offer our community and the best part is, it’s free to anyone with a library card.”
Kathryn Luker, the youth services supervisor, said that the exploration center will offer children the chance to explore subjects more deeply then they get to at school and use their imagination while they learn.
“We have so many resources, and then there’s the whole community out there, and if we bring those together and then present something, then think of the imagination that we can spark in a kid,” Luker said
The STEAM Exploration Center has been an idea that the library has wanted to implement for a long time, Bonman said, but it just never had the funding to start it — that was, until Dennis Yost came to the library looking for projects to fund.
Yost’s sister, Ruth Ashcroft, had recently passed away, and she wanted the bulk of her estate to go to various projects in the community.
“My sister was a teacher. She loved children. She loved the library. She would come to the library all the time as a child,” Yost said when he approached the library. “Is there something that we could help you guys fund that we could honor her legacy that way?”
Hearing this, the library staff thought they could finally make an exploration center in these five core concepts.
Before this, the library owned 3D printers as well as a glowforge, which is a laser cutter machine, and did monthly STEAM nights, “but we haven’t really been able to utilize them to their full potential,” Bonman said.
Bonman said that this was because they didn’t have the space where they could schedule programming like that as often as they would like to. The library staff pitched the idea of the STEAM Exploration Center to Yost.
“This is 100% something my sister would have loved,” Yost said.
Once the exploration center is open, the library will schedule activities in the five concepts where kids can get their hands dirty and be actively engaged in learning. Bonman said that the center has all vinyl floors and a sink because “we’re expecting this to be a space that gets messy.”
Some examples of activities are making a volcano, programming a circuit, building a bridge out of popsicle sticks and painting a picture. The library already has equipment for sewing, so children can combine engineering and art by making light up T-shirts.
Kids who attend the grand opening will be able to see science demonstrations done and take home a kit for their own science experiment. The event is happening during the first Historic Downtown Friday Art-Walk.
Bonman said that once the exploration center is open, the library will start slow with scheduling events, and people will be able to find the schedule on the library website, Facebook and Instagram.
Luker encouraged parents to bring their children to the exploration center and see everything else the library has to offer.
“Take advantage of this free resource that’s available to all people without charge, without judgment,” Luker said. “This is the foundation of a child’s love of learning, coming to the library and having their creativity or their imagination sparked by something that they do or see here.”
The post Pocatello library to open hands-on exploration center for children appeared first on East Idaho News.

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