Young scientists get up a head of STEAM with Sno-Isle Libraries program

The forces of nature are not to be trifled with.

That is, unless you are an inquisitive 9-13 year-old attending a Sno-Isle Libraries “Tween STEAM” event. If that’s the case, then trifling, poking, questioning and experimenting is what it’s all about.

Photo of girl
Sela Kramer, a fourth-grader at Twin City Elementary in Stanwood, is all smiles during the Tween STEAM event, April 21 at Camano Island Library. Photo gallery

Remaining Tween STEAM events                            

Camano Library

  • Physics – Thursday, April 28, 4-5:30 p.m.

Edmonds Library, Saturdays, 2-3:30 p.m.

  • May 7 – Dry ice
  • May 14 – Physics
  • May 21 – Electricity & Magnetism
  • May 28 – Chemistry

Freeland Library, Mondays, 4-5:30 p.m.

  • May 2 – Dry Ice
  • May 9 – Physics

Sultan Library/Boys & Girls Club, Fridays, 3-4:30 p.m.

  • April 29 – Electricity & Magnetism (Boys & Girls Club)
  • May 13 – Chemistry (library)
  • May 27 – Physics (Boys & Girls Club)

The Tween STEAM program includes four, 90-minute sessions that let fourth- through eighth-graders get their hands on fun science experiments. With roughly one session a week at each of four libraries, the young scientists get an up-close look at electricity, magnetism, chemistry, physics and the amazing properties of dry ice.

“I just love working with the kids,” said Christine Longdon, who teaches the classes through her company, Grinninfish.com. “I also like seeing the parents engaging with their kids.”

A Stanwood-area resident, Longdon said she hadn’t intended to start of business teaching hands-on science to children, but it just kept growing. “I scuba dive and I started volunteering with Oceans for Youth and World Oceans Day,” she said. “Then, I got involved in Beachwatchers.”

Longdon said she didn’t like studying science when she was young, but was motivated to give her son additional exposure to science beyond what was available in school. “I started developing these hands-on classes; everything is hands-on,” she said. “Now, I like science. Maybe I needed a more hands-on approach, too.”

Hands-on in Longdon’s classes means things such as each participant building an electric motor, including winding coils, stripping wire leads and watching it run. The chemistry lesson includes making a plastic-like material from whole milk and vinegar, while physics may include shooting ping pong balls with a leaf blower.

A dry-ice session at the Camano Island Library on Thursday, April 21, had about 20 youngsters wearing safety glasses and gloves to see and experiment with the wonders of solid carbon dioxide at minus-109.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Sno-Isle Libraries has just been so good to me,” Longdon said. “My first classes were at the Stanwood Library where they helped me work things out.”

The “STEAM” part of Tween STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The idea of STEAM, also referred to as STEM, is a growing educational focus for schools and industry. Sno-Isle Libraries offering of Tween STEAM and other similar programs is part of the library district's strategic focus to coordinate programs addressing community needs and interests.

Attendance at all four Tween STEAM sessions isn’t required, but space may be limited, so registration is advised. For more information, go to www.sno-isle.org/steamclub.

About Sno-Isle Libraries
Sno-Isle Libraries serves 713,835 residents in Washington’s Snohomish and Island counties through 21 community libraries, online services, and Library on Wheels.