Andrea Kaucher: Through the library, STEAM can be fun

When I was growing up, I hated math (except for algebra) and science, and most especially the intersection of math and science.

I didn’t understand it. And I didn’t understand why I had to learn it. But over the years, my perspective has shifted, and I’m now a member of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Team at the Johnson County Public Library that helps coordinate a system-wide approach to STEAM programming.

I also plan and facilitate at least one STEAM program a month, either for preschoolers or school-aged children. You might be wondering what prompted this change. And the answer is simple: I realized that these disciplines are all about cultivating curiosity, noticing patterns, asking questions, solving problems and thinking creatively.

These skills are essential to responding quickly to a changing world around us, as we’ve all discovered over the last year. And although a lot of people think that creativity, for example, is an immutable trait — either you have it or you don’t — this is simply not true. With practice and hands-on experiential learning, you can build these skills at any age.

The library’s mission is to connect people to resources and experiences that will empower them and help them to succeed, and that is why we wholeheartedly embrace STEAM at the library.

Through its Library of Things, it currently provides 24 different STEAM Kits, from microscopes to telescopes. Sarah Lockwood, a children’s librarian at the Franklin branch who oversees the purchases of items for the Library of Things, says, “Our STEAM Kits provide a way to try new equipment or explore different concepts. For example, Stargazing Kits include telescopes, star charts and instructions for downloading star-tracking apps so families can explore our galaxy from their own backyard. At its core, science is about the joy of discovery and learning something new. Each kit is designed to inspire those ‘ah-ha’ moments from preschool to adulthood.”

For more information about the available kits, please visit the library’s website at

To further encourage experiential STEAM learning, the library also offers an array of programming for all ages. Some upcoming events of interest are the Little Scientists and Preschool Edible Science programs for children aged 3 to 5, and the STEAM Workshop and Full STEAM Ahead programs for school-aged children in grades K through 5.

Due to COVID, these events are being held virtually via Zoom, but they all feature hands-on, interactive components to engage young brains and their problem-solving skills. These program series reoccur monthly, so keep an eye on our calendar at for the dates and times and register early. These events are popular and fill up quickly.

In April, you can join Indiana Phenology via Zoom to learn more about their Backyard Observers program and how to record information on seasonal changes in the plants and animals around us. Your observations will help establish patterns and connections between the climate and these natural occurrences. The session geared toward adults will take place April 8, and the session geared toward families will be April 10. Visit to register.

For more at-home learning, you can also check out our digital resources, such as ArtistWorks, Gale Courses and (soon to be transitioned to LinkedIn Learning for Library), at

The STEAM Team is also currently evaluating some new options, involving coding and robotics, that may be revealed soon. And most exciting of all, the new Clark Pleasant branch will also offer some fun opportunities to explore STEAM concepts, so watch our social media accounts for announcements.

Just as we constantly learn and grow as individuals, the library is also always seeking out innovative ways to connect our community to the STEAM disciplines and encourage lifelong learning at every age.