Chelan Library hosts ATLAS

By Darlene Paterson
Empire Press Correspondent

Every Tuesday at 3:30 the Chelan Public Library, a branch of NCRL, (North Central Regional Library) hosts ATLAS STEM CLUB. ATLAS stands for At The Library After School and STEM represents Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The Club, for children age seven and older, features fun activities that teach kids to build, create, imagine and plan.

“STEM’s four areas of emphasis are where the job markets will be in the future,” Senior Librarian Jennifer Oatey commented.

The Chelan Library has been hosting STEM CLUB for the past two years. The club is taught by Assistant Librarian Sherry Palmiter and overseen by Oatey. About ten children attend the hour-long club each week.

“Weekly activities vary,” Oatey said. “Sometimes they work on the same activity for several weeks, but mostly it’s a one-day activity. It is up to Sherry and whatever she chooses. She likes to surprise the kids.”

On May 22, Oatey and Palmiter began club by leading the children to the media room for snacks and a YouTube video. Snack of the day was pudding cups and the video kept kids guessing with various riddles that included which business logo was correct and Guess the Emoji Movie. The children were amazing at solving riddles.

“The purpose of the snack and video time is to bring the kids together and help them connect,” Oatey said. “We want them to bond and get to know each other before we start the day’s activity. Food is the universal bonding agent, right?”

“I preview the videos before we show them to make sure they are appropriate,” Oatey added. “I have a play list from YouTube that I choose from and line it up ahead so I know what they are going to watch each week.”

After snack time the children followed Palmiter onto the library stage where she had KEVA Planks set out for the day’s activity. KEVA planks provide an opportunity for children to use their creativity and imagination to build and create.

“We will attach all of our projects together into one big tower when we finish,” Palmiter reminded the children.

KEVA Planks are cuboid wooden planks. They started as a simple construction set that did not require sorting and had no specific instructions. They have developed into a manipulative teaching tool used in classrooms, homes, and libraries to teach math, science, geography, history and humanities. They have also been featured in various museum exhibits.

Frankie sat at the edge of the stage and watched the proceedings. He said he was there for the first time and just wanted to see what they did.

Miles Mumma said he comes to STEM club every week. “It’s awesome,” he said. “We play with all kinds of stuff — KEVA Planks, Hexbugs, Legos and Ozobots. I’ve been doing this for awhile and it is really fun.”

Hexbugs were little battery operated bugs the kids called roaches. They had fun chasing them around the stage and catching them to put inside their projects. Oatey said they sometimes race them.

“They also use the KEVA planks for challenges to see who can build the highest tower in a timed race,” she added.

“We practiced with the KEVA Planks during a staff training session for STEM Club,” Oatey mentioned. “It was a lot of fun for adults too. In one training activity we worked in groups of four or five and had to collaborate, using teamwork while racing to build the biggest circle tower.”

“STEM Club will be going all summer,” Oatey concluded. “Kids are welcome to drop in and join the fun on any Tuesday during the summer.”

Learn more at ncrl.org/chelan or email chelan@ncrl.org to receive weekly emails of club activities.

Kids working on an Emoji Movie Puzzle (Empire Press photos / Darlene Paterson)