Kicking up STEAM, local history and a brighter future
Teen Center librarians at the Patchogue-Medford Carnegie Library, Michele Cayea and Colleen Hutchens, show off Ozobots Rosie and LuLu with library director Danielle Paisley, Teen Center librarian Brian Schwartz with the amazing 3D pen, and librarian Joyce Thompson Haas, who will be integrating a Learning Lab for tweens at the main Patchogue-Medford Library this month.


Kicking up STEAM, local history and a brighter future



Ozobots Rosie and LuLu were meeting up to compare … colors.

 “Hey, I see you,” said Rosie, before breaking into a “Lone Ranger” theme. LuLu was a bit more sedate. She just blinked.

Michele Cayea and Colleen Hutchens, Teen Center librarians at the Patchogue-Medford Carnegie Library, were changing Rosie and LuLu’s strobing colors, via a Wonder Workshop app connected to Bluetooth on an iPad. 

“We made a driving course for them this summer,” said Cayea.

Go, robot ladies!

Brian Schwartz, another Teen Center librarian, displayed that wonder tool, a 3D pen that heats up filament inside. He outlined a yellow heart in the air. “The kids really like this,” Schwartz said. Five filament refills have been used up so far. 

These science activity projects get teens to think outside the box and collaborate, said Patchogue-Medford library director Danielle Paisley, and this month, tweens, fourth- to eighth-graders, will be privy to similar science tools as well. Learning Lab coding and/or technology classes, starting with Makey Makey, the invention kit, and Bloxels, a video-game builder, are being offered at the main library.

Making Music With Code, being offered Thursday, Jan. 18; Video Game Design, taking place Feb. 13, and 3D Trinkets on Thursday, March 29 will each take place from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (Register one week in advance.)

Paisley explained the dynamics of offering such programs. With Ozobots, Paisley said for example, you can form different pathways for the robots to follow, which emulates coding. 

“Younger kids can do this stuff and they get instruction,” she added.

 Joyce Thompson-Haas will teach the one-hour Learning Lab classes for tweens after school once a month. It’s a STEM effort teamed with art/design called STEAM.

But that’s not all the library has in store for this year. Although already engaged, there’s more of an emphasis on a whole-library-whole-community approach that includes field trips for school-age children and their families to places like The Pita House, a respected and well-reviewed Turkish restaurant in Medford. 

“We have a blossoming Turkish culture in Medford and we want them to get to know their neighbors,” Paisley said. Watching Kilwins’ owner John Murray or staffers make fudge is also being planned. Both field trips are ways for kids to see possibilities, ask questions, meet community business leaders and forge future business partnerships, Paisley reasoned. Even the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center will be on the roster, a chance to observe how technicians care for the animals there, perhaps sparking an interest in a future career (or maybe a new, sweet pet). 

The library’s Patchogue River Tour, which filled up in four hours last year Paisley said, was the launching pad for another local history highlight on the river, but this time on land: a tour of the Frank M. Weeks Yacht Yard. It’s a pivotal year for the Weeks family, as they will be celebrating 120 years in business.

Librarian Laura Accardi is setting this up with her sidekick Karen McCahey. Librarian and local historian liaison Mark Rothenberg will research historical facts and create scripts for local tours, Paisley said.

The boatyard, a Patchogue mainstay, is located on River Avenue.

“We met with the Weeks family, Tina Marie and Kevin,” Accardi said. “When we were doing the river tour, she had mentioned that there was so much history at the boatyard. It’s like a time capsule. Some of his staffers would like to be involved showing the building tools used.”

Scheduled for sometime in July, prepare to be awed by the old-tool building. 

For those who want to earn a high school diploma but are hard-pressed with the responsibilities of a job and/or family, career online high school scholarships are being offered.

“We wanted to pilot this program,” said Paisley. “A [general education degree] requires classroom participation. In today’s economic society, it’s hard for some people to accomplish that. So we subscribed to 10 scholarships and we’ve given out two so far. They’re worth about $1,300 each and we’re using grant funding. If someone is interested, you have to apply and our librarians are the application points. The person is interviewed, gets an online test and a two-week trial, where they go through the sampling of coursework. If that’s accomplished, they are accepted. It takes from 10-18 months to complete and they work at their own pace.”

Cengage Brain is the vendor. 

Not everyone has a computer, so if that happens, “They can come here or borrow a laptop or a hotspot,” Paisley said.