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What a difference a year makes!

Molly Kane, Head of Teen Services and Emerging Technologies

Wednesday, May 4th marks, in my mind at least, the unofficial one year birthday of the UDPL STEAM Lab. I mark this as its birthday since May 4th is when our first 3D printer was delivered even though we had already been preparing for STEAM programming since we learned we received the LSTA grant in February of 2015. It was a very exciting day when our first printer showed up. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure that my literature background had prepared me for managing a 3D printer, but luckily our little Cube was user friendly enough that I had our first print done in no time. (We won’t talk about my third print, the dinosaur who was stuck to the print plate and who I stupidly thought could be removed with a steak knife. Although, I’m still incredibly grateful to our P&R director, Derek Dureka for bandaging me up and township manager, Paul Leonard for the ride to Abington. You can barely see the scar and the experience taught me an important lesson about patience and proper object removing procedures!) In twelve months we’ve gone from one 3D printer to four. We’ve held many 3D printing classes for kids as young as Kindergarten through adults. We’ve used our 3D scanner to make lifelike models of some of our volunteers. We’ve developed a way for patrons to submit and pay for 3D printing through our website. And the object we’ve printed most frequently? Doctor Who’s iconic blue Tardis!

BA 3D Printers

But while 3D printing remains the most popular technology in the STEAM Lab, there have been many other changes since last year. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of UDPL, we were able to renovate the physical space of the STEAM Lab. We went from holding programs on folding tables to hosting events in the sleek new space with tables and cabinets worthy of any lab!

BA Tables

We’ve also added more innovative programs as the year has gone one. We are hosting a workshop for the National STEM Video Game Challenge this coming week. We’re excited to be partnering with eLine Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney foundation to present an event that will introduce students to how video games are created! And as 2016 continues, UDPL will also host Philadelphia TechGirlz events and we’ve also recently been approved to be one of the first open-registration locations for the national group, Girls Who Code.
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When I became a librarian, I didn’t expect to spend so much of my day working with technology. But that doesn’t mean that I’m upset by it! It’s been an incredibly rewarding year and I can’t wait to see what the future brings!