By Vee Sharp
The Chestertown branch of the Kent County Public Library buzzed with activity on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 9 as the community celebrated the annual Maryland STEM Festival.
The festival is a yearly, month-long initiative spanning across the state of Maryland that celebrates the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. According to the Maryland STEM Festival website, local organizations such as schools, colleges, and libraries focus on creating interactive experiences to encourage students to pursue or gain an interest in these fields.
Each festival keeps to singular theme; this year, it was cyber security and information technology. KCPL’s event adopted a relatively small and simple layout, with a variety of interactive activities relating to the digital world.
“We took a broad interpretation,” Library Services Director Natalie Donoso, who manned the raffle station in the middle of the library, said. Though some activities were more directly related to the theme, such as one game whose aim was to randomly generate a password, others were less so, such as a sticker art activity.
According to Donoso, this is the first year that KCPL had a raffle at the STEM Festival, and they were able to do so thanks to a large donation from the Judy Center, an early learning program for public schools. The prizes ranged from coding robots designed for kids to an apple air tag.
Other activities included a display about cryptology, an online museum about computer viruses, a station for kids to play the computer game “Interland,” and a guessing game titled “Behind the Meme.”
“I love how [the event] is statewide and not only libraries, but other communities can participate too; everyone does their own thing,” Donoso said.
Visiting community groups added their own flavor to the theme. A 4-H organization representative ran races with robotic bugs, the Judy Center helmed the art station, and the Washington College Maker’s Union displayed their 3D printed creations.
Though the event has been successful and popular among the local community through the years, the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll. “We had no one show up last year,” said library employee Honey Raines.
Despite uncertainties about attendance, eventgoers were glad to see the STEM Festival come around again.
“As soon as I saw [the event] pop up on Facebook, I tabbed it,” said Tiffaney Ramsey, who attended with her son. According to Ramsey, library events like the STEM Festival allow homeschooled students to interact with others, as well as get involved with STEM at an early age.
“It’s important for children to think outside the box,” she said.
Akilah Downes, who also attended with her children, found out about the event through word of mouth. “We like to get out in the community, get out of the house,” she said.
According to Downes, she appreciated the interactive elements of the event and seeing how kids could be creative in so many ways.
Though the STEM festival is wrapped up until next fall, the Chestertown branch of KCPL is open to the public Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Photo by Mia Snyder
Photo Caption: Washington College’s Maker’s Union was among the booths attendees could visit at the Maryland STEM Festival.