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Families with children ages 6-10 are invited to participate in the Index Card Tower Engineering Challenge to be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on March 25 at Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, 1823 Church St. Staff from the Evanston Public Library and an engineering expert will be on hand. Space is limited, and registration is required by calling the Library at 847-448-8610.

This program is one of 24 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs being planned as part of a research project of the Library, Loyola University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the Chicago Children’s Museum, to conduct design-based rsearch on the impact of conversation and storytelling on STEM learning. Researchers hope to discover how conversations can be improved to encourage, support, and reinforce learning.

The project is funded by a $717,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to Loyola University Chicago. A portion of the grant funding will be directed to sub-grantees Evanston Public Library and Chicago Children’s Museum to support implementation.

As part of the research project, Evanston Public Library staff and engineering experts will design and offer inquiry-based programs to be held at the Library and other locations. These programs will engage children ages 6-10 and their parents in open-ended activities that involve designing and creating. Through the projects, children will learn to form theories, test them, learn from them and try again. Students from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, and members of the local tinkering and maker movement will participate.

Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons said, “The library staff is excited to learn from the experts along with our families. We have been expanding our Maker and STEM programming for children for the past few years. The design thinking involved builds problem-solving skills and strengthens critical thinking. These skills support lifelong learning and support children in future success in life, formal education and
future careers.”