By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 23, 2017
FORT RUCKER. Ala. -- The Fort Rucker Center Library isn't just a place where people can find books and resources, but also place where young minds can flourish through hands-on experimentation.
The library held its first Mad Scientist Workshop Feb. 16 where children were able to use their ingenuity and teamwork skills to construct bridges while working in groups and using only the materials provided, according to Cameron Hill, center library youth librarian.
"Since this was our first one, I wanted to start off easy because I had no idea if it would be popular or not, but it turned out to be so popular that we had to add another session," said Hill. "This workshop was about engineering, and a lot of the kids were already well on their way to being great designers and builders."
During the workshop, children had to use the materials provided, which included popsicle sticks, clothespins and binder clips to construct bridges to see which bridge could hold the most weight.
The children worked in groups of three to five to construct their bridges before books were stacked on top to see which bridge could hold the most weight before they collapsed, and for many of the children, like Marcus and Jaden Whiting, military family members, the workshop was a good time that taught them valuable lessons.
"I thought it was really fun and artistic, and I love art," said Jaden. "My favorite part was the first bridge we made."
The first bridge that Jaden's group constructed was able to hold so many books that the bridge itself never collapsed from the weight of the books, but caused the stack of books to pile so high that they toppled over.
"I liked the first bridge we made the most, too," added Marcus. "I learned about construction and that supports are good," which their bridge had plenty of.
The team didn't have as much luck with their second bridge, though, as they got a valuable lesson in time management.
"We had a good idea and it had plenty of suspension, but it took too long to build," said Jaden. "We spent too much time on the idea and we had to just build it how we could," which resulted in a bridge not nearly as sturdy as their first.
Regardless of the type of bridges they built, they both agreed that they enjoyed their time during the workshop, and their mother, Mimosa, military spouse, was happy to see a program that was geared toward children of their age.
"We have a keen interest in science, and since they're home schooled our opportunities to do scientific experiments are limited, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to have a hands-on scientific experiment with other kids," she said. "I'm happy that the Fort Rucker library is offering this type of thing for older kids … it's nice to see something that's geared toward middle-school aged kids."
The Whitings said they had such a good time that they will be sure to make it to the next workshop.
Hill said with the success of the Mad Scientist Workshop, they had to add an additional session, and the event was received very well since it's geared toward children who are older.
"We wanted to put something like this on also because we have a lot of programs for younger kids, but not for a lot of older children," said the youth librarian. "Just based on the numbers that we saw today, there just isn't a lot for the older children. We'd like to provide more for them."
Hill said another purpose the Mad Scientist Workshop helps to fill is to provide education and offer some Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics programs on post.
"A lot of these concepts are missing in some schools today, especially with art," she said. "There is a big need in the job market today for science and technology positions, and children want to learn about these things … and hopefully this will build on the concepts that they already know and they can work and grow on it."
Hill said the next iteration of the workshop will involve art, which will be held in April, followed by a chemistry and mixing workshop.
If people are interested in attending the Mad Scientist Workshop, parents must call the center library and register, and people should register as soon as possible since spots are limited to about 20 children because of space and materials, said Hill.
For more information, call 255-3885.