Public invited to explore Mission 595

Recently, some of us took a field trip to the Muncie Public Library’s Connection Corner.

It was there that we would have a first-hand look at its Digital Climbers program, an after-school, incentive-based S.T.E.A.M. initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math).

“Climbers” complete challenges and earn points, which can be cashed in for prizes. When they complete a predetermined list of challenges, they advance to earn a new badge.

We tried a few of these challenges. My favorite was the Osmo pizza challenge. With an iPad mounted before me and game pieces laid out on the table in front of me, I successfully served custom- ordered pizzas to an interesting array of colorful characters. The lion wants only red toppings on his pizza today. The hippo likes veggies. And, the blue guy wants pineapple and anchovies! As I’m building the pizza with these pieces, the iPad registers my movements, and I interact with the characters up through the payment process where I make change with tiny currency.

Next, we used a Mac to create a song on GarageBand. Ours started out with some catchy Dixieland horns before the chanting monks finished it out. It was pretty bad, but somehow I was still proud of it.

After that, we Photoshopped a celebrity pic by giving Robert Downey Jr. a few pimples and a garish tie.

I learned quite a bit that morning, but I was also actually having fun.

And now your Pendleton Community Public Library is one of the official pilot libraries for the program we’re calling Mission 595.

With a generous $5,000 educational grant from The Kroger Co., the library was able to purchase a MacBook, iPads, Osmo kits, Snap Circuits, Gravity and Laser mazes, and more.

Children 7 to 12 can visit “Mission Control” (aka the children’s program room) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, to see what Mission 595 is all about.