Harford County Public Library will debut “Little Leapers,” pre- and early-literacy kits focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for kids 5 years of age and younger, at an event at the Bel Air Library on Wednesday, March 27, at 8:30 a.m.
The interactive kits were designed by children’s librarians from various Harford County Public Library branches. Each of the 10 different kits will include age-appropriate books, toys, games and instructions on how kids and their families can use them.
Little Leapers kit titles include “I am a Chemist,” “I am a Marine Biologist,” “I am an Entomologist,” “I am a Botanist,” “I am an Architect” and “I am a Paleontologist.” Four kits are geared toward infants and are titled “Colors, Shapes and Numbers,” “My Senses,” “Baby Animals” and “All About Me.”
More than 100 of the kits will be distributed throughout 10 branches of the Harford County Public Library system starting at the end of March. The kits may be checked out for seven days.
Little Leapers is an extension of the library’s successful LEAP: Science is Fun! program that started in 2007 and is geared toward third- to eighth-grade children. Developed by librarians from the Edgewood branch and funded by grants, the interactive kits are curriculum-based and age-appropriate with fun, do-it-yourself activities designed for families to explore and play at home.
“The overwhelmingly positive feedback about the Leap kits encouraged us to take the next step by offering Little Leapers to our youngest library patrons,” said Mary Hastler, Director of the Harford County Public Library. “Little Leapers will help with reading readiness by preparing our county’s youth for school and by introducing STEM concepts at an early age that will help with workforce readiness in years to come.”
Topics include “Build a Car: Forces, Energy and Motion,” “Human Skelton,” “Bridge Engineering” and “Mindstorm Robots.” The kits are available in libraries across the county and are very popular, with branches having a hard time keeping them on the shelves. The popularity of the kits has spread across the United States, with inquiries coming from libraries as far away as Arizona about implementing the program there.
Surveys of children who used the Leap kits and program materials found:
· 89 percent said that LEAP programs helped them decide to consider a possible career in science
· 91 percent reported that LEAP kits and materials helped them learn to pay more attention to science in the world around them
· 60 percent said they wanted to read more books about science
· 95 percent reported that the LEAP kits and materials helped them to be more interested in science all or most of the time
"We are excited to be a part of the debut. The LEAP: Science is Fun! program has made such an impact on the third- to eighth-grade children in the county and the Little Leapers program will be just as successful thanks to the Harford County Public Library and Celebree Learning Centers," Bill Parris, owner of 970WAMD - Harford County's radio station.
Celebree Learning Centers is the title sponsor of the Little Leapers program. Richard Huffman, CEO of Celebree, has been a longtime supporter of Harford County Public Library and values how the library and Celebree complement the work each does with early childhood education and literacy.
“Celebree focuses on early childhood education, and Harford County Public Library reinforces our work with solid, age-appropriate programs for young children,” said Huffman of Celebree. “Little Leapers is a great way for us to partner with an organization that offers so many fun, yet educational, programs for young people in our community.”
Supporting sponsors of Little Leapers include SAIC, M&T Bank and Hart to Heart Transportation.
Those wishing to attend the kick-off event on the morning of March 27 should call 410-273-5600 in advance.
Harford County Public Library operates 11 branches located throughout Harford County. The library serves more than 160,000 registered borrowers of all ages and has an annual circulation of more than 4.8 million. Harford County Public Library is committed to connecting people with information and promoting the love of reading within the community. More information may be found at www.hcplonline.org.
To stay up to date on everything happening in Harford County, visit MyHarfordCountyNews on Facebook.