Franklin Countys First News

Launching pom poms at the public library

Tara Marble shows some materials to the 4-H Summer of Science group at the Farmington Public Library.

FARMINGTON - Tara Marble stretches a rubber band across two fingers.

"What do you think will happen if I let it go?" she asks a group of slack jawed elementary students.

A few hands shoot up into the air.

"Okay, go ahead and tell me something," she says.

Marble slowly walks the students to the discussion she's hoping for, centered around concepts of energy and the potential that the rubber band holds. Marble is the Youth Development Coordinator for Franklin County's 4-H program run through the University of Maine. The program serves an average of 110 kids in the area through a varied offering of clubs and workshops and in recent years has gained a focus on STEM- Science Technology Engineering and Math. The rubber band discussion is just one session of 4-H Summer of Science, hosted at the Farmington Public Library. The four-week program gives local students a chance to get out of their houses on a quiet summer afternoon, meet up with new friends and learn some STEM foundations all at the same time.

"There will be some struggling," Marble explains. "I'm not going to show them how to do it, they'll just manipulate the materials until they've satisfied their curiosity. Ultimately we'll get some launching."

The students are working on building catapults to launch pom poms across the carpeted floor of the library's children room. They will be required to wear safety goggles, Marble says, just in case. Each week focuses on a different "pirate problem" to go along with the grizzled, seafarer theme. Last week the students were learning about water density, as in, if a pirate goes overboard would he sink or swim?

"It's all about experiential learning. It gives a better outcome of skill sets and teaches that you can't succeed without some failure," she says.

The program will also be offered in Strong before the summer is over. Marble says shes excited about the opportunity to expand further out into the county. But for now, she stays central, in a place where people can easily get to.

"The library is great for that," she said.

There will be two more sessions of Summer of Science: "Stretch Your Potential" on Tuesday Aug. 20 at 2 p.m., and "Will it Light" on Tuesday Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. For more information call 778-4312.

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