The Loft at the Evanston Public Library has an exciting new partnership with the Office of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Partnerships (OSEP) at Northwestern University. Through this partnership, the Loft has begun offering a weekly drop-in program called FUSE. FUSE is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/design, Math) exploration program designed to ignite and nurture STEAM-focused interests among teens through an innovative challenge-based approach.
Each challenge uses a leveling-up model from gaming and is carefully designed to engage teens in different STEAM topics and skills sets. Challenges have been developed in the areas of robotics, electronics, biomedical science, Android app development, computer-aided design (CAD) jewelry design, sound mixing and architectural design.
One primary goal of FUSE is to engage teens who may not yet have developed interests in STEAM fields and to do this in more places accessible to young people.
Northwestern University’s OSEP Director Kemi Jona said, "FUSE is unique because it targets teens who do not already think of themselves as being interested in science, technology, engineering or math. There is a large number of fun challenges available. Pretty soon they are learning about 3D-design, mobile app programming, biomaterials, or some other real-world skill."
FUSE’s hands-on approach offers teens a sense of intellectual and creative independence. Teens get to decide what challenge they want to work on, for how long, whether to work alone or in groups and how they will address the challenge. Since there is typically more than one way to complete a challenge, teens can build on problem-solving skills and think outside the box.
Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons said, "We’ve learned that teens want to feel connected and want to have a space they can feel comfortable in when exploring new interests. We are thrilled to partner with Northwestern University and be able to provide innovative programs outside of school hours."
Evanston has two FUSE Studios: the Teen Loft at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.: Saturdays 12-2 p.m. (for middle school and high school students) and Evanston Township High School: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:45-5 p.m. in room A155 (high school students only).
Teens can drop in anytime and are encouraged to bring friends and try challenges together. There is no cost associated with this program and no registration is needed.
More information is available at www.osep.northwestern.edu/projects/fuse. Times are available at epl.org.