The King County Library System Foundation opened an expansion of ideaX Makerspace, a hub for STEAM education, at Bellevue Library on Saturday. The expansion was made possible by a $100,000 grant from Google.org. The grant will also go toward expanding the mobile services designed to deliver STEAM programs to under-served youth in King County.
“Google is really interested in partnering with organizations that are providing workforce readiness and providing access to technology and to digital literacy,” KCLS Foundation executive director Elizabeth Castleberry said. “Libraries have always been about literacy and learning … and in today’s world, part of that means being able to access information electronically and the Google.org grant is going to help with that.”
STEAM education, similar to STEM, is an educational learning approach that uses science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking.
The ideaX Makerspace hub provides hands-on education that allows students to explore STEAM subjects and technologies through six program modules: robotics, electronics, music and digital sound mixing, 3D printing, digital media, and game design. The hub is open and free to all community members. Some classes may be limited to age groups and class size. Class registration can be found at kcls.org.
“ideaX is the gateway to a future in STEAM. It gives me all the tools and space to choose my own path,” Victor Du, an ideaX student, said.
The program’s design supports delivery in public libraries and at community sites, making it possible for residents across King County to build their STEAM skills, regardless of education, background or means.
“ideaX brings technology to everyone and provides the opportunity to get experience in areas that could become a profession,” Max Duvall, another ideaX student, said.
Castleberry said career opportunities shouldn’t be denied to anyone due to a lack of access to necessary resources.
In addition to the two existing makerspaces, ideaX will continue to develop its ideaX programs through its mobile library vehicles. When the expansion is complete, ideaX plans to make free STEAM education available to all 1.4 million residents across the 34 cities in KCLS’ 2,200 square-mile service area by the end of 2019.
“In our community, STEM education and training is in high demand throughout local job markets,” Darcy Nothnagle, head of external affairs for the Northwest at Google, said in a press release. “We’re proud of our work with the KCLS Foundation to provide a home for these programs and create more opportunities for residents across King County.”
The next expansion of the ideaX Makerspace will open at the Federal Way library in 2019.