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Tomorrow’s Tools, Today’s Imagination

Steam Lab LogoWhen I was hired as the Teen Librarian, one of the first interview questions I received was “What do you think about 3D printers and what would you do if we had one?” I didn’t know much about 3D printing at the time, but I could tell that this was something that UDPL was passionate about and I quickly made it my number one pet project. Well, after two years of planning and grant writing, I’m very happy to announce that UDPL’s first 3D printer is up and printing!

We received funding for the printer through a grant that library director, Cheri Fiory, and I wrote this past fall. The grant provides money to create a Makerspace technology lab in the teen area of the library. We’ve named it our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) Lab and the printer is just the first of many amazing opportunities we’ll be making available to students this summer. Because of the parameters of the grant, our middle and high school students will be the first people to use the STEAM Lab equipment and tools during a series of programs and events starting at the end of June. We’ll be focusing on four technology areas including Digital Art & Photography, Electronic Design & Coding, Music & Video Production, and Robotics. Starting next week, six UD students will begin a three week internship where they will design and create projects within these tech areas. The content they create will then be used during the summer to introduce the tools and equipment to other students. The STEAM Lab will be largely teen created and teen lead.

And while this is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our kids, if you’re an adult, you may be wondering what this means for you. Once the grant period ends in mid-September, we will be working on ways for all members of the UD community to benefit from the technology in the STEAM Lab, including the 3D printer. We’re still ironing out all the details, so check back often for updates and announcements!

While you wait, you can see the printer in action by watching the STEAM Lab live stream! Whenever we’re printing, we’ll be recording it and you can check in to see what we’re printing.  We’ll be printing all day today and have a number of exciting projects for you to watch!

The STEAM Lab’s motto is Tomorrow’s Tools, Today’s Imagination, which we believe really captures its essence. On Wednesday, two young UD students, Ari and Ben, visited the printer during Maple Glen’s “Screen Free Week.” We talked about the development of 3D printing technology and watched the printer create three-dimensional versions of their names. Their excitement was contagious, and before long UDPL and UD Township staff, volunteers, and even our wonderful UPS delivery person were standing around, watching the printer. The STEAM Lab will become an environment where learning will be fun, but maybe more importantly, it will be a place for people to come together and create. I’m so incredibly grateful and excited to be a part of it.

STEAM Lab Boys
If you want to watch our live feed, click here to go to the UStream site. (The live stream takes a minute or so to load, so don’t worry if you see a black screen at first!)

If you want to know more about our specific printer, click here to go to the Cubify website and learn about our little Cube.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional funding has been generously provided by the Friends of Upper Dublin Public Library.