In my post on Family Science Programs last month, I reported on the Los Angeles Public Library‘s partnership with the California Science Center to offer hands-on preschool science programs to families at the library. It was their grant – and we came on board as an active participant in helping the CA Science Center achieve its outcomes for community-based preschool science education.
This month, the focus is on interactive science programs for older kids and their families. Our wonderful partner Iridescent Learning included us in a grant to offer 5-week Family Science Courses. Iridescent Learning developed the curriculum and then trained University of Southern CA engineering students to present the workshops at two of our branches in the South Central part of Los Angeles.
Every Monday afternoon in April at the Exposition Park and Junipero Serra Branches, families feasted on pizza, juice and fruit provided by the library, learned about a scientific concept from the engineering students via slide shows, videos and demonstrations – and then conducted experiments that made full use of the scientific method. Observe! Predict! Check!
What did this look like? It depended on the location. At the Junipero Serra Branch, the families spent the five weeks learning about different forms of energy. On the day I was there, it was all about thermal energy and insulation. After families learned about the energy caused when things heat up or cool down – and how that happens – they all got to conduct their own experiments using ice cubes, dixie cups, plastic cups and various possible insulating materials. Will rice prove to be a better insulator than cotton balls? What about feathers? Or sand? Or flour? They made their predictions and then tested their theories. Lots of fun and melting ice!
On the day I visited the Exposition Park branch, the emphasis was on biomechanics – specifically, how the heart works as a pump. The experiment was to figure out how to pump liquid out of a bottle using air pressure, using anything from plastic bottles to tubing to bellows to balloons. There was heavy use of duct tape and lots of water everywhere. This was a challenging experiment that got all the kids and parents talking and working together – exactly the point!
Iridescent Learning came equipped with its own grant that enabled them to train the USC students and provide at least some of the supplies. LAPL provided the venues, the families, the refreshments and some of the supplies. We plan to work together in the future, and the success of our first partnership means that we can prove to potential donors and grantors that our program collaborations have great outcomes.
The lesson? Taking active part in the grants obtained by other organizations and institutions is beneficial for libraries – and can be the beginning of a beautiful (and well-funded) relationship.