What are your kids doing after school on Tuesdays? Would they enjoy learning how to build a marble maze or Newton's cradle — or how about creating a piece of glass art while learning about the melting point and expansion coefficients of glass?
These are just a few of the upcoming activities planned for the Becker County Museum's new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) Club, which will be meeting after school at the museum every Tuesday through the end of March.
During the club's first session Jan. 7, members learned about electric volts, amps and ohms, as well as how to construct a working FM radio and other simple electric-powered objects using Snap Circuits. These activities are related to the "Electrifying Minnesota" exhibit at the museum.
As a special surprise, the kids were given a sneak peek at club mentor Kevin Mitchell's latest project: Making an interactive "MN Sn'Ice" donation box, complete with a prerecorded voice response, blinking lights and a larger spotlight that will come on for about four minutes after the donation has been inserted into the slot at the top of the box.
They're exploring the addition of the larger light, he explained, so each donor can grab a selfie in front of King Isbit's throne, any time of day or night, without the photo being marred by a lack of daylight or unexpected shadows. Mitchell said he thought that exploring the various aspects of the donation box would be a good learning experience for them, as its creation incorporated all five aspects of STEAM.
He added that much of the first session was spent trying to determine the level that each club participant was at in terms of knowledge and experience in working with STEAM projects.
This week's (Jan. 14) planned activity was "an artistic spin on a simple marble maze, with a wood base, using 3D printed items," Mitchell said. "I'm also looking at ideas with DIY (do-it-yourself) 'Newton's Cradles' (the swinging balls on strings that go back and forth), pendulums and other things."
Though the club has already been going since the beginning of January, Becker County Museum Director Becky Mitchell said that there are still some openings; the participation fee of $130, or $10 for each of the planned 13 sessions, would be pro-rated for those sessions that the student missed before joining.
Those interested in signing up should call 218-847-2938, come to the museum at 714 Summit Ave., or sign up at www.beckercountyhistory.org.