In addition to collections of books, movies and music, the Denton Public Library will now have another item to check out — science experiments.
Starting today, each branch of the library will have about 30 boxes of science experiment supplies and instructions, created by high school students in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science program at the University of North Texas.
Each box will contain about three experiments focusing on the same subject, such as magnetism or chemical reactions, and will include instructions and the necessary supplies that aren’t common household goods, said Kevin Roden, assistant director of student life at TAMS.
“This was created by the students who wanted to do something to help students in Denton get excited about science,” he said. “When they started thinking about what got them excited when they were younger, it was hands-on experiments, so that’s what they wanted to do.”
The idea originated in the Junior Engineering Technical Society club at the beginning of the fall semester, said Annabel Wang, a member of the club who helped make the boxes. About 70 volunteers worked on the project this fall, and many put in more than 50 hours of work into the project, she said.
“There’s a huge range of projects,” she said. “It’s really amazing what [the students] came up with. Like one project — you can extract DNA at home. It’s really amazing what you can do and make at home.”
The boxes show the appropriate grade levels for each experiment, ranging from third to fifth grade, and what concepts the experiment should teach. Once a child completes the experiments in the box, they return it to the library just like a book, and, if necessary, library staff will restock the boxes.
Each box is even hand-decorated by the students with pictures and drawings to give the boxes “a personal touch,” Wang said.
Tonight, TAMS students are scheduled to give the first demonstration about how to use the boxes at the North Branch Library at 4 p.m. Later this month, they will visit the South Branch Library on Feb. 18 at 4 p.m., and Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. at the Emily Fowler Central Library.
“My hope is that we see more young students seeing these sorts of projects, getting excited about it, and maybe have them become a TAMS student themselves,” Roden said.
The TAMS students will be recognized at the beginning of the Feb. 18 Denton City Council meeting with an official proclamation by Mayor Mark Burroughs, showing the strength of the partnership between the city and the students, Roden said.
“I think, in a larger context, it’s getting young people excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all these sorts of things are something communities realize they need to get behind,” Roden said. “It’s just an example of a great partnership with the students, the library and city trying to make a difference in the community.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.