‘Houston, we’ve got something cool going on at the Library’

Mission 595 will be launched from the Pendleton Community Public Library on Friday, Jan. 5. Kids ages 7 to 12 can drop into “Mission Control” (also known as the children’s program room) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. that day to get a hands-on introduction to this new and ongoing initiative, which introduces S.T.E.A.M. to middle school students.
Mission 595 defined
Mission 595 is an incentive-based program where children complete challenges rooted in the principles of S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math).
Challenges range from creating song loops on GarageBand and changing a person’s hair color in Photoshop to completing gravity mazes and building snap circuits.
“Cadets” earn points for completing challenges, and the points can be cashed in for prizes.
When Cadets complete a predetermined list of challenges, they advance to one of four levels: Navigator, Aviator, Astronaut, and Commander.
Those who reach the Commander level qualify to serve as mentors for new Cadets entering the program.
The origin of the idea
Mission 595 is a pilot program for the Digital Climbers initiative developed and copyrighted by the Muncie Public Library.
Ashley Stout, the circulation librarian at the Pendleton library, learned about the program at a conference during the summer.
She was so energized with the idea and recognized the value of the program and how it was a natural fit for the objectives of our long-range plan.
So, we jumped on the opportunity to become a pilot library and launched our own version of Digital Climbers, which we call “Mission 595.”
Fit with long-range plan
During our strategic planning process, we identified the need to offer more programming for “’tweens.”
We had great programs for kids. We had great programs for teens. But, the kids who were in that 7- to 12-year-old range were kind of missing out because the children’s programs were too elementary, and the teen programs were too grown-up.
Mission 595 is specifically targeted for the 7-12 age group, although any student who can benefit from Mission 595 is certainly welcome to participate.
Mission 595’s funding
We were very fortunate to receive a $5,000 grant from Kroger. That amount is more than enough to get us started, and we’ve already purchased some really neat things for Mission 595.
For example, we bought a MacBook. We don’t have any Macs in the library, and some colleges actually require that students have their own MacBooks for school. Kids who participate in Mission 595 will use a MacBook to complete challenges that use sophisticated software, such as Photoshop and GarageBand.
We were also able to purchase two iPads, some Osmo kits, gravity and laser mazes, snap circuits and other items.
The Kroger grant was really quite generous, and there is still some funding available that will be used toward future purchases, which we will make based on the challenges that the cadets enjoy the most.
Mission 595’s goals
We have several goals for Mission 595. Of course, we want to see lots of children participate. But, we really want to see lots of them succeed.
Mission 595 encourages cadets to solve challenges by thinking for themselves. Mentors are there for encouragement and to provide an occasional hint. But they will never give the answer.
This means that children might get frustrated along the way, but each success is celebrated. So, the value of the program is beyond educational. It also develops self-confidence.
If one cadet finds a strength, a passion or even a career, that’s a huge success for the library.
Hobbs is the director of the Pendleton Community Public Library.