In October of 2017, the volunteer run Heber-Overgaard Library sought support to develop a mini makerspace with computers, lego products, and a 3D printer. These were augmented by donated hand tools and scrap materials for projects.
Then, in February of 2018, they extended their efforts to include astronomy programs that aligned to the local Astronomy Day and in April 2018, participated in training around early childhood math and science activities for children and their parents. This library, in collaboration with 3 Rivers Foundation, has done STEM book giveaways; and collaborated with the Cooperative Extension to host health and exercise programs. Since its initial collaboration with NAIC in November 2017, this library’s multifaceted efforts have engaged over 4,000+ people through on site visitors and community outreach at town events.
With the support from RAIN and the community the Library has now started a Robotics Club for students ages 6-12 to learn about robotics and after school programs. The project has over 35 students that regularly attend to learn more about STEM and robotics. With the population at around 2,800 in Heber, this is an amazing opportunity for students to learn about and get more involved in STEM, helping to prevent a rural STEM gap.
Did you know?
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration found that between 2005-2015, the STEM fields grew by 20.3% more than non-STEM related fields and that they expect this growth to continue with a growth trend of 8.9%. But while this growth continues, students in rural face the issues of a STEM gap. Those who live in rural areas don’t have the same quality of curriculum or resources to succeed, but nearly half of all U.S. school districts are in rural areas. Rural students were less likely to have access to STEM courses, clubs, and advanced placement courses,
This is why programs such as this club and RAIN are so critical to student development in rural. If you have any questions about how to encourage students interest or access to STEM, or have an idea to encourage STEM in your own program-please contact us or apply for one of our grants in our 4 rural communities we serve: Cochise County, Navapache Communities, Graham/Greenlee, or Verde Valley.