‘Water Wedges’ theme of Explore Tech program

MARQUETTE — Whatever floats your boat.

That, in a way, was the theme of Thursday’s Explore Tech program, Water Wedges, at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette.

At least it was what intrigued Nina Fassbender, 8, of Marquette, who along with other youngsters created origami boats to see if they would float in a small pool of water.

“That’s the part I’m kind of interested in,” Nina said.

The library’s Youth Services has a traveling exhibit — Explore Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference! — a free exhibit available to kids and adults through Oct. 11 in the children’s room.

The exhibit contains informational display panels, a computer kiosk with interactive engineering games and a Discovery Table.

The purpose of Explore Tech is to increase the understanding of the importance of engineering and technology in the community. One way of doing that is offering special programs like Water Wedges, which ran Thursday as part of the library’s Masterminds of All Kinds program.

That program, which focuses on STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics — takes place at 4:30 p.m. every Thursday at PWPL.

With Masterminds, it will be more well-rounded than the former STEAM program, said Amanda Pierce, Youth Services assistant, who led Thursday’s program with fellow assistant Kerry Yost.

Yost said she will focus on art and design.

“There will be some life skills also,” Yost said.

Thursday’s Explore Tech was just that: exploring technology.

“We’re going to be building canoes out of paper, and they see how a wedge works, and then they’re going to be given supplies to build their own boat and they’ll see which one works better,” Pierce said before the program.

The purpose behind this comparison?

“It’s to see how they can engineer a boat to make it go across the water the smoothest and fastest,” Pierce said.

It was easy on the environment, with no fossil fuels required.

Just a little ingenuity.

“It’s a little bit of design, working in teamwork, finding out how to figure out ways for things to work, and finding a better way to make it work, or if it failed, how to fix it,” Pierce said.

The supplies provided to the kids included tinfoil, crayons and paper.

“You guys have to come up with your own design,” Pierce said.

Yost first explained basic boat design to the young engineers.

“Has anyone ever seen the icebreakers out in the harbor before, that break up the ice in the harbor?” Yost asked. “This is kind of that same idea.”

The kids took scissors to paper and made the boats.

“It’s going to be better if I’ve got something heavy in the bottom that’s going to weigh it down a little,” Yost said of her small boat, which had a slightly flat bottom.

So, it was important to not put too many pebbles in a boat, thereby sinking it.

That’s the type of thing youngsters can learn in such a program.

Explore Tech events are scheduled for September and October. The next one, Tool Library, is set for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the library’s business reference room and will feature a demonstration of tools available for checkout from the North Farm in Chatham, which is part of the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. The “incubator farm” specializes in diversified organic vegetable production, research, education and outreach for northern latitude climates.

Participants can take part in the Family Engineering Challenge: Design a Park and Wind Turbines! from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the children’s room with the help of a professional civil engineer.

For more information on these programs, call 906-226-4320.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.