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The City Journals

Libraries team up with 4-H to teach STEM

Jul 25, 2017 11:54AM ● By Kelly Cannon

Three kids work together to figure out how to build a robotic arm. (Kelly Cannon/City Journals)

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]
A group of kids learned all about design, programing and engineering during a special robotics camp held June 26–27 at the Holladay Library. Focused on a building a robotic arm, the kids broke up into small groups of two or three, using Lego kits to build their engineering feat.
“The kits in front of them today are called EV3s. They’ll be using them to build a robotic arm. They’ll follow pictorial instructions that will show them how to put it all together,” said Melissa Ivie, a camp coordinator with 4-H. “Later, they’re going to experiment with programing it. They’ll have a drag, drop program that goes with it. They’ll pull that up and they’ll experiment with trying that out with different programs.”
The second day of the camp focused on improving the design of the robotic arm, as well as designing their own robot based on their experiences of the first day.
“Then they’ll play a game with the robotic arm ones to help develop their programming skills,” Ivie said.
The camp has two main goals for the participants. The first is to increase exposure to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
“Most of the kids in school and in their life experience don’t have a huge exposure to that kind of thing,” Ivie said. “Part of it is just to bring STEM into it.”
The other goal is to develop a number of engineering concepts to the kids so they begin to look at the world in a different manner.
“Even things like Legos, things they can find in their house, they can see it with more of an inventor’s mind,” Ivie said. “They can use them to make things and engineer new things.”
Funding for the program comes from the Salt Lake County Library Services, who hired 4-H to bring their community program and STEM-focused activities to the library for short summer camps.
“They’re making robotic thinks like mouse traps or catapults out of household things. We have Beginnings Robotics, which is a different level of EV3s,” Ivie said. “We have The Human Body, which explores how the human body works and sensory perceptions. We have photography and a programing one. We have aerospace and Mission to Mars.”
Ivie said she hopes the kids who participate in the summer camps take away an interest in STEM and engineering.
“I hope they’re interested in continuing to pursue those things and interested in inventing things at home and trying it out at school and in after school clubs,” she said.
To learn more about 4-H camps and other programs provided by the Salt Lake County Library Services, visit