Each week, Great Bend Public Library offers children in grades 1-6 a chance to create something during Maker Space Monday. The hour-long program starts at 1 p.m. in the children’s area known at the maker space.
This week children turned empty Pringles potato chip cans into colorful kaleidoscopes, but the projects can sometimes involve modern technology. The library recently acquired a 3-D printer from the Central Kansas Library System. Then, at the March 21 GBPL Board of Directors meeting, the board approved a Squishy Circuits kit to go with a MaKey MaKey invention kit that allows users to connect everyday objects to computer programs. With Squishy Circuits, they can turn anything that conducts electricity – including a banana – into a musical instrument.
Maker spaces are a popular trend at libraries across the nation as a way to promote learning through play. GBPL Children’s Librarian Dayna Ball said they have the potential to teach principles of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Ball said the 3-D printer is a fad now, but it’s also educational and teaches basic computer programming concepts. “It’s not a toy,” Ball said. “You begin to learn possibilities of job skills.
“The machine is user friendly,” Ball added. A template of the desired object is downloaded from a computer. Plastic filament is heated and extruded in precise layers until the object is finished. The process can take several hours.
The device does require adult supervision, but Library Director Willems said several libraries are already using 3-D printers and there haven’t been any injuries.
Although the printer is located in the children’s area, Willems said teens and adults are fascinated with the device.