Space Exploration Series


5/17/2019

Space Exploration SeriesThe Cambridge Public Library (CPL) recently finished its successful Space Explorations series at the end of April. This effort was a collaboration with MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative and its Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX), and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to build on STEM and climate-related outreach programs.

Space Explorations was an 8-session workshop series that enabled youth and adults to learn about satellites and space technology through hands-on activities. Patrons had the opportunity to work closely with MIT Media Lab graduate students to prototype satellites, develop space missions, and learn about the movement to democratize space through efforts like building CubeSats, which are baseball-sized satellites that are easy to design and launch compared to traditional satellites.

For some sessions, participants connected virtually with the Space Explorations group at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library. In one session, they learned about satellites and data collection and then translated class data into visualizations through creative sculptures. In another, they experienced space through virtual reality. In the culminating event, 8 CubeSat satellite prototypes were launched on a tethered high-altitude weather balloon. These satellites were outfitted with microcontrollers that participants programmed to send data via radio communication to microcontrollers on the ground, collecting data about temperature, acceleration, light, and direction.

"This has been an incredible opportunity for us to work with local academic institutions to benefit our patrons in the important area of STEM learning," shared Maria McCauley, Director of Libraries. "And our partner library Charlotte-Mecklenburg could not have been more supportive!"

This series was also supported by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, who recently awarded the CPL with a federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant to transform a traditional computer lab at the Main Library into a flexible learning and innovation space for STEAM programming.

"We look forward to hosting many more workshops and classes in STEAM topics in this revitalized space," enthused Emily St. Germain, CPL's STEAM Programs Manager. "With help from our community partners, we expect the Learning Lab will be as busy as all of our other beloved library spaces!"

To learn more about STEAM programs at the CPL, visit bit.ly/CPL_STEAMcal.

Photo info: Students of the Space Explorations program observe the high-altitude weather balloon outside the Main Library on April 30