Claire Ousey and Olivia Hamm, students from Red Hill Christian School, use microscopes in the Rainbow Discovery Room at the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library to view slides containing insect parts and animal cells.
It may be the magical fun fly stick, the colorful blue and green dart frogs, dubbed “Captain America” and “Hulk,” or the sensory sand table. But no matter what draws kids in to the Rainbow Discovery Room at the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library, the room’s sponsors hope they keep coming back for more.
The space, which opened in November 2012, was the work of librarian Wendy Kramer, who heads the facility’s youth services.
Grants from Univest and Target helped make the project a reality.
“It had been a dream of mine for years to do this for the kids,” Kramer said last week. “In this area there isn’t much in the way of things to do; there’s no museums. This gives kids an introduction to science, reading and math.”
And visitors won’t be disappointed. There are a wide variety of stations, each with its own educational component. For the month of March, the theme focuses on motion. Kramer changes the theme every two months.
At a toddler station, kids can identify different types of rocks, weigh them on a scale and use a magnifying glass to compare their unique features.
They can study motion on the always-popular marble run, which sends marbles up a pulley system, where they jump, bounce and roll through a multitude of features to the bottom.
Kids can see the cellular makeup of things like snake and lizard skins and butterfly wings through slides at a microscope station, or investigate motion at a sensory table with a pendulum and colored sand.
Two tables sport three different science experiments, one of which investigates inertia through a homemade “water tornado” in two connected bottles. Another employs magnets and yet another challenges visitors to launch paper cones using air from empty water bottles.
A series of games and supplies, like dominoes, arthropod specimens, animal skulls and furs, and architecture kits, like a Snap Circuits Pro kit, promise to keep kids busy while teaching them important concepts.
And perhaps a favorite of visitors, the room is also home to a 9-month-old bearded dragon, named “Puff,” the dart frogs and some fish.
Last Tuesday, the modified kindergarten class from Red Hill Christian School visited the library and couldn’t have been more excited to take in all the room has to offer.
“I like the frogs and the lizard,” explained 5-year-old Claire Ousey of her favorite activity, while busily checking out the microscopes and slides. “I like cats too. I want a cat, but my mom’s allergic.”
Tom Maini said he really liked the Perplexus, a 3-D ball in a maze. He liked it so much he wasn’t too interested in trying out other stations.
Noah Fowler was getting a laugh out of static electricity using a fun fly stick employing a charge and a tinsel ball, which kept jumping onto people’s clothing and the ceiling.
Kramer said as word spreads about the space it draws more and more people out to the library. People with various disabilities from a local group home are among its regular visitors.
“The response has been really great. Word is spreading that this is here. I would love it if more school groups would come. I would also like to start a science club here at the library. It’s something to work towards.
“The whole thing is we are trying to promote science, reading and math. To get them [kids] excited about those things.”
The room, which is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 3-7:30 p.m., and other times by request, is entirely staffed by volunteers. The library is currently seeking volunteers to work with the next generation of learners.
“I really believe in what Miss Wendy does with hands-on programs for the library,” said volunteer Julie Moran of Red Hill. “This is tangible learning for kids to grow in their knowledge and have fun at the same time.”
Upcoming events will include a series on plants and science for April and May, where visitors can partake in hatching frogs and caterpillar cocoons. Kramer hopes to put up a butterfly tent to allow visitors personal, supervised interaction with the creatures.
For more information on the Rainbow Discovery Room, visit www.upvlibrary.org, or call (215)679-2020.