16 June 2023 — Thanks to a generous donation from the Elizabeth Kelly Foundation, libraries throughout Lanark County, including Carleton Place, Lanark Highlands, Mississippi Mills, Perth and Smiths Falls, announce free LEGO robotics STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) summer programs for youth, ages 8-17. STEM skills are essential for the next generation of innovators. Fun and accessible programs such as LEGO robotics are very popular and give youth the confidence to expand their skills.
Mississippi Mills Public Library (MMPL) launched a STEM program, funded by the Elizabeth Kelly Foundation and Canada Summer Jobs grants, in 2020/21. This pilot program was more successful than anticipated, with overwhelming demand for workshops. “Registration filled within hours of posting the workshops and parents were very excited to have access to free robotics programs locally, when usually they need to travel to Ottawa and pay for the program,” explained Berta Madrigal Abaroa, coordinator of MMPL STEM programs. The success of MMPL STEM programs sparked the idea for a Lanark-wide STEM program.
STEM skills are not just for youth intending to pursue careers in engineering and computer science. Agriculture & agri-food industry workers need computer skills in their day-to-day farming operations from fixing equipment to digital cultivation software. Tradespeople need to navigate new technologies. Christine Row, MMPL CEO explains, “Cultivating STEM skills helps prepare our youth for whatever path they choose.”
Libraries are the ideal place to encourage and develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. Bruce Attfield, Elizabeth Kelly Foundation Director states, “funding this innovative program aims to build important skills for all youth throughout Lanark County.”
Through the Lanark STEM Program, all five library systems will share LEGO robotics kits and laptops. “Steampunk Education will use these resources to bring the youth of Lanark up to speed on current developments in technology, covering topics like engineering design and procedural programming,” said Gabe Braden, co-founder of Steampunk Education. “Steampunk’s stated mission is to help rural education centers by providing high-quality STEM education.”
Partners, program details, and registration information at the following sites:
Carleton Place Public Library – www.carletonplacelibrary.ca
Lanark Highlands Public Library – www.lanarklibrary.ca
Mississippi Mills Public Library – www.missmillslibrary.ca
Perth & District Union Public Library – www.perthunionlibrary.ca
Smiths Falls Public Library – www.smithsfallslibrary.ca
Elizabeth Kelly Foundation – www.ekellylibraryfoundation.ca