The Rotary Club of Bigfork is partnering with the Imagine IF Library Foundation to meet the needs of creative learning space, as known as a Maker Space lab, for the Bigfork Library.
Accessible technology is vital for success in the 21st century. Smaller schools and communities, like the unincorporated village of Bigfork, Montana, often lack the resources to provide accessible, current technology for the people of that community. Libraries provide free, accessible resources to all members of the community regardless of age, gender, race, or socio-economic status, making libraries a perfect setting to provide technological resources and creative hands-on learning spaces for all. These free resources are especially important for youth during the summer break. Research demonstrates that over the summer, students suffer learning losses in not just reading but also math and science, where the losses tend to be even greater. To address these issues Imagine IF Libraries launched a Summer Experience Program which focuses on STEAM subjects: science, technology, engineering, art and math. The nine-week Summer Experience program was launched in 2015 and continues to grow in demand and participation. Among many other activities, youth participants built helicopters and explored the principles of pitch, vibration and frequency. Teen participants currently engage in activities like creating robots and designing soda pop. These activities opened children's minds to the boundlessness of technology and exploration.
This grant proposal will provide a Maker Space lab. Maker Space is a tactile learning place where people of all ages have an opportunity to explore their own interests while they learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual, and develop creative projects. Maker Space focuses on education through building 21st century skills and lifelong learning for all ages. The applications for these technologies are endless, and can be incorporated into all sorts of STEAM-based programs, including being incorporated into the Summer Experience program. With the close proximity of the Bigfork Schools, all teachers can incorporate this lab into their curriculum, furthering the partnership and use of the Bigfork Library. This lab will take the existing education and programs to a whole new level, incorporating technology into the hands-on activities. This Maker Space will include a 3D printer, spools for the 3D printer, a virtual reality kit, a Sphero Bolt set, a Cricut, Cubelets, a Mirco:bit club pack, and a Drone.
Grant funds along with the Rotary Club of Bigfork's matching funds, totaling $9,500 will be used to purchase all of the items listed in this grant. If awarded, grant items would be purchased this July and set-up immediately upon receipt. The goal is to have the Maker Space lab set-up and utilized in this summer's Summer Experience Programs. All equipment will be branded with the Rotary International logo.
Bigfork Rotarians are excited to be involved in the set-up and implementation of these library improvements and additions. When items are received, Rotarians would help unpack, and set-up the Maker Space lab. The Bigfork Library and Bigfork Rotarians will then host a grand opening event celebrating the Maker Space lab. When the Summer Experience program is underway, Rotarians will partner with library staff to introduce and assist students with the Maker Space lab for the remainder of the program series.
The upgrades and addition to the Bigfork branch of the Imagine IF Library that this grant will provide, will offer excellent opportunities for Rotarians to enrich the lives of every child, teenager, young entrepreneur, parent, business owner, and senior in the greater Bigfork area.