By Robin Mayo
WISE is working with three local public libraries to make “Discovery Packs” so families can learn and do simple science experiments at home. We are starting with a few packs at Kenny Lake Public Library this week, and by the end of the year hope to have a total of 24 packs available at Kenny Lake, Glennallen and Valdez libraries.
The idea grew as we thought about how we can support local families through remote and home schooling, and keep up with our In-Class Science program in spite of the pandemic. Since libraries already have systems in place to check out materials, they were an obvious choice for partnership. Copper Valley Electric Community Foundation and Alyeska Pipeline Service Company have already pledged funds to support the program, and a request is pending with the Foundation for Rural Service via Copper Valley Telecom.
Although designed for elementary aged students, one of the goals is to include materials that will appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests. The electricity pack is one of the first we tackled because it is one of the core building blocks of the In-class Science program. Included are books (Ms. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus,) safety information, batteries and bulbs, and experiments with static electricity. The Renewable Energy Alaska Program (REAP) assisted with this pack, so we there are also materials to build your own wind generator, hook up solar panels, and measure energy use in the home.
The packs will be able to be checked out just like a book. They will include a checklist to help borrowers make sure they get everything back in the pack. Between uses, the librarians will check and replenish the contents, wipe things down, and let them rest for a few days to “decontaminate.” Since each library has developed their own procedure for Covid19 safety, please check with your librarian for the best way to choose and pick up materials.
We will start with some basic topics, including Simple Machines, Electricity, Sound, and Magnets. Then we will branch out with packs for Aquatic Ecology, Birdwatching, Mammals, Geology, and more. Some of the packs we will have three of so they will always be available at all locations, while others will rotate between the libraries every few months.
Public input is very welcome on this project! What topics or materials would you like? After you try a pack, we’d love to hear how it went, and how it can be improved. We’d love to continue to grow this project with your ideas.
Photo: The Electricity Discovery Pack includes experiments in static, current, and renewable energy, safety information, and books.
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.