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Summer learning in Vermont libraries

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Walking into the Charlotte library, you'll find more than just books.

"You will learn very soon what a twinkle is and what kind of magical things a twinkle can do," said Dayle Payne, an instructor.

Fifteen libraries throughout the state have been transformed into so-called maker spaces for students this summer.

"They are going to be just turning out blinky projects that will blink in different patterns," Payne said.

The program offers classes in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, better known as the STEAM program. It's all a part of the Vermont Makers and Libraries Project, funded by grants from the University of Vermont and the Vermont Community Foundation Innovations and Collaborations.

"We have a serious deficit of scientists at this point in our country, particularly female scientists. And one of the beautiful things about this program is that it brings out a lot of girls, it brings out a lot of children who might not experience this kind of work in any other way," Payne said.

The libraries offer five modules: creative creatures, squishy circuits, toy hacking, e-origami and e-textiles.

Catherine Young of Charlotte Central School is glad to learn about electronic textiles with friends.

"She told me about sewing and I thought it was kind of cool, so her mom signed both of us up," Young said.

The program is all about giving kids an outlet for creativity over the summer. This is the first year of the program and it's my first time attempting to make an e-textile. My attempts weren't as successful as I hoped, but the program welcomes anyone to give it a shot.

"Although this is a kids' program, I have yet to do a workshop that didn't have at least two or three adults in it learning along with the kids," Payne said.

Payne will teach nine 3-hour classes this summer; she'll travel to libraries all over the state, along with other educators participating in the program.

"I think that a lot of what we do in schools is just sort of hidden from the community and I think it's good that the community sees what kind of science we're having the kids do these days," Payne said.

And when it comes to feeding the curiosity of these young minds...

"It's really fun," Young said.

...They're leaving full of ideas.

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