Howard County Library System’s STEAM machine visits county fair through Saturday

Visit the Howard County Fairgrounds in Maryland through Saturday and you can learn about agriculture while surrounded by carnival rides, cotton candy, tractor pulls and cattle.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, center, in the STEAM machine, joins Tonya Aikens, president and CEO of the Howard County Library System.

Courtesy of Howard County Library System

Set up like an exhibition stand near the entrance to the show, the STEAM Machine hosts workshops where people can interact with robots, see a 3D printing pen in action, and do science experiments.

Howard County Library System

The STEAM Machine truck is 13 feet tall and 33 feet long. Sliding awnings and a dual indoor/outdoor speaker system will keep learning outdoors when the weather cooperates.

Howard County Library System

Visit the Howard County Fairgrounds in Maryland through Saturday and you can learn about agriculture while surrounded by carnival rides, cotton candy, tractor pulls and cattle.

The Steam machine welcomes guests to see how it will bring science, technology, engineering, arts and math education directly to county communities as a hands-on classroom on wheels.

“We have all kinds of high-end MacBook Pros here; we have surface tablets; we have Dell computers. And, we have the capacity to be able to have 12 children in the STEAM machine at a time. We have all kinds of surfaces for them to sit on and have hands-on learning,” said Christopher Heady, Howard County Library System Mobile STEAM Unit Driver and Assistant Instructor. “People just call me the STEAM guy.”



Set up as an exhibition stand near the entrance to the fair, the STEAM Machine organizes workshops where people can, for example, interact with robots, see a 3D printing pen in action and perform scientific experiments.

“It’s really just kind of the tip of the iceberg of what we can offer people. We have high-end camera equipment. We also have like a giant rolling green screen. And we have these really big monitors on the STEAM machine,” Heady said.

Calling it a massive education endowment, Heady said the truck is 13 feet tall and 33 feet long. Sliding awnings and a dual indoor/outdoor speaker system will keep learning outdoors when the weather cooperates.

The vision is for the STEAM machine to reach underprivileged communities to put technology in the hands of children and break down the barriers that prevent children from accessing technology.

“It’s a really big effort to give that hands-on learning and make all of those principles accessible,” Heady said.

The library system reaches out to stakeholders and partners to see where and how the STEAM machine could be best used.

“We want to hear from the community so we can really understand what they want from us in terms of the courses…. And when we’re not aiming for K-12, we’re also going to have adult learning,” Heady said.

The STEAM machine is funded in part by a grant from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and is administered by the Maryland State Library Agency. Additional funds are provided by Friends and Foundation of HCLS.

You can find the Howard County Fair Event calendar on the fair website. The Fairgrounds is at 2210 Fairgrounds Rd. in Western Friendship.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow the OMCP on Twitter and instagram to start a conversation about this article and others.

Get the latest news and daily headlines delivered to your inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 OMCP. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located in the European Economic Area.

About Shirley L. Kreger

Check Also

System-on-chip (SoC) market expected to reach USD 214.8

New York, United States, Sept. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — According to a comprehensive research …