For the past two years, an Upper Arlington Public Library program has sought to energize children and gently teach them lessons and skills now sought in the global marketplace.
One Wednesday a month from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Lane Road Library, the door to the downstairs meeting room stands open and children, some in kindergarten or younger, wander freely in and out and among several stations.
STEAM in the Library Makerspace Activities vary each month, and although meant for fun, there's more than just game-playing taking place.
"It's happening at a lot of libraries, and it's a good fit," said Sue Emrick, youth services librarian at the Lane Road Library. "We're a good place to tome and just experiment with things.
"They can come, they can interact with other people, they can build and invent."
STEAM implements lessons of STEM -- short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and also adds art.
School districts across Ohio have inserted STEM classes into their curriculum in recent years to prepare students for life after high school and a marketplace where people from all over the globe compete for jobs.
When children and parents visit STEAM in the Library, they can make crafts with construction paper, tape and a myriad of accessories.
Or they might learn about electricity and circuitry through "invention kits" where users attach metal alligator clips to a computer, an electrical board and pieces of fruit.
They also might build a marble maze in a cardboard lid by affixing pieces of plastic straws as barriers, or learn about how ice melts using drops of cold and warm water as they work to thaw out a frozen toy dinosaur.
"We let them create on their own, and I usually try to have one that we call 'high-tech,' " Emrick said. "The children -- and sometimes parents -- learn things about technology they didn't know.
"Some of it looks messy, but it's fun and these are science concepts."
Seven-year-old Yuvraj Varma was among several children who took part in the free STEAM program Jan. 24. He completed the circuitry station and moved on to building a marble maze.
Asked what he was doing, he said, "A little experimenting. It's not my favorite thing to do, but it's definitely in my top five."
Five-year-old Elizabeth Morlocke was expressing her artistic imagination by cutting out construction paper and coloring to create "caticorns," and attaching them to paper handles that allowed them to fly across construction paper backgrounds.
What's a caticorn?
"It's a cat with a horn on its head," she explained. "They fly around.
"They don't have wings, but they can fly."
Elizabeth said she's warming up to science, but she comes to STEAM for the art elements.
"I love coming," she said. "We make crafts and stuff."
Her mother, Amanda Morlocke, said her family moved to Upper Arlington from Austin, Texas, in November 2016, and the library provides an abundance of outlets for Elizabeth and her 3-year-old sister, Maggie.
"When we were new here, it was a nice way for them to socialize with other kids in their age group," Morlocke said. "It helps a lot because (Elizabeth) is big in crafting and it helps focus her energy.
"It's hard to do that at home with her younger sister. Here, it's nice, it's a safe space and I've never come here and there's just one thing for them to do."
STEAM typically is offered at the Lane Road Library on Wednesdays each month. Information about specific dates and times for both preschool and K-5 programs is available through the "Events and Programs" link on the library's website, ualibrary.org.
Emrick said the next K-5 program is scheduled from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21.