Beaver Falls Library Receives “Curiosity Creates” Grant

Beaver Falls, Pa. – The Carnegie Free Library of Beaver Falls (CFLBF) recently received a $6000.00 Curiosity Creates Grant from the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. The Beaver Falls Library is one of 79 public libraries in the United States to have been awarded the grant which is underwritten by a generous donation from The Walt Disney Company. The purpose of a Curiosity Creates Grant is to fund the development and implementation of creativity projects for children ages 6-14.

CFLBF’s Children’s Librarian, Christine Kroger, has developed and is currently implementing a yearlong program called “Building UP: Architecture”. The program consists of three four-week sessions throughout the 2015-16 school year, and is designed for students in elementary through middle school and will enable them to acquire and develop knowledge of the basic concepts of design and building used by engineers and architects. “Building UP” is also intended to “build up” the relationship between under-served youth and their local public library. To that end, the library entered into an exclusive partnership with TRAILS Ministries, a Beaver Falls organization that supports At-Risk students.

“Through individual work and collaborative team activities,” Kroger explained, “the students from TRAILS have the opportunity to creatively express themselves and constructively use their imaginations. Additionally, they should develop important and useful personal skills such as flexibility, resilience and problem-solving that will aid them in all facets of life.”

Paula Holmes had this to say about the CFLBF program: “As the evaluator for the Disney sponsored ALSC Curiosity Creates Grant, my responsibility is to create a “Best Practice” piece for librarians. The Carnegie Free Library of Beaver Falls program, Building UP: Architecture, is not only inspiring creativity for the participants, its outreach to a population that is typically underserved is inspiring to the library profession. There are 79 Grant Recipients across the United States, all involved in unique creativity programming. I am fortunate that close to my own home, in Western Pennsylvania, is a compelling and powerful program that provides children a safe environment to explore. The project encourages strong community relationships and can be easily replicated by other libraries; its impacts will carry far beyond the borders of Beaver Falls.”

The program’s first three-week session was completed during October 2015. Participants learned the basics of building skyscrapers as they created structures using recycled materials including boxes, cardboard tubes, and Popsicle sticks. They also enjoyed a career discussion featuring local architect, Dan Franus, President of Franus Architectural Associates, Inc. of Ellwood City. The second session, which is currently in progress, incorporates the use of 3-D Printing Pens and 3-D Printers. Sandy Curry, Education Program Director of the Franklin Center in Aliquippa, brought in a 3-D Printer for the students to experience the 3-D printing process. In the third session, which is scheduled to run in the spring during April and May, the children will be creating a roller coaster. They will be working in smaller teams, each using K-Nex building sets to construct individual components of the finished structure. Kroger enthusiastically added to her description of the spring session, “This should be one heck of a roller coaster when it’s finished.

Jean Barsotti, MSLS, Beaver Falls’ Library Director, shares: “Receiving the grant at this time is very exciting for us. Over the past 18 months, our Board of Trustees, aided by myself and our staff, has been preparing our Comprehensive Plan for Vision Transformation, which, as it is being implemented, will ultimately allow CFLBF to provide a true 21st Century Library experience in the region.”

Director Barsotti continued, “Our goal is to have minds of all ages engaged in ways that are exciting and fulfilling for the learners as well as the instructors, and the type of programming that the Curiosity Creates Grant has allowed us to offer to these children fits exactly with our vision: ‘to inspire and empower lifelong learning and the exchange of knowledge’.”

You can follow the progress of the students and their projects through social media. CFLBF will be making regular posts to their Facebook page and Twitter account as these sessions move along.

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