STEAM Education Centres: Learning and Making in St. Thomas and Elgin

This is a guest blog post by Jessica Moyes, Executive Director of STEAM Education Centres! STEAM Education Centres is one of the Library’s Community Partners. Like us, they offer services that encourage self-directed discovery, community maker spaces and continuous learning. See Jessica’s post below to learn more!

STEAM Educations Centres: Learning and Making in St. Thomas and Elgin

It’s hard to believe but this fall will mark one year since the STEAM Education Centres opened its doors to bring new educational approaches to learning and making to the St. Thomas and Elgin County region. And what a year it has been! We have lead some awesome programming, participated in a variety of community events, opened a temporary pop-up location and have some exciting plans for the near future – and, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Programming with the Community

The STEAM Team and guest teachers have designed and lead some amazing workshops and school field trips, both in the Centre and in the community, for learners of all ages on topics ranging from coding, computer rebuilding and animation art using 3D design and printing, to Teen and Adult coding with Raspberry Pi and Maker CNC projects. We also took our programming on the road this summer to a pop-up location at the Elgin Mall! There, we lead four weeks of summer camp for kids – Music Maker Camp and Alien Investigations Camp – as well as a range of teen and adult workshops such as Make your own digital picture frame using Raspberry Pi (shown below).

Learn to make a Digital Picture Frame using Raspberry Pi – Summer workshop for teens and adults at STEAM Education Centres pop-up location.


Making Connections

It was an active summer connecting with people out in the community for the STEAM Team. We kicked off the season with a free BBQ at the STEAM Centre and topped off the night with a screening of Most Likely To Succeed; a film about the future of education and innovation. It was a fantastic evening filled with the sounds of laughter, discovery and summertime spirit.

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STEAM Centre Block Party guests screening Most Likely To Succeed; a film about the future of education and innovation, June 2017
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STEAM Education Centres’ Summer BBQ and Block Party, June 2017

We also participated in the Canada Day festivities in Pinafore Park this summer. Kids of all ages learned how to program, or code, an Ozobot using colours, navigate a Sphero maze and made their own smoke ring machines!

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Kids learning to make smoke and smoke machines with STEAM Education Centres at Canada Day celebration at Pinafore Park, July 2017

Full STEAM Ahead

Looking to the fall, there are no signs of slowing down! We are currently busy organizing our first event called STEAM Mission 150 for September 30th! STEAM Mission 150 is an exciting new event that will test students like never before while honouring the history of the local community, land and Canada’s 150th! This one-day event will see teams of students between 12 and 15 years old diving deep into fun challenges that require creativity and collaboration while tapping into science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) skills. And, just for fun, a handful of brave teachers will be able to enter the Mission as well!  We invite everyone to join us for an unforgettable day, whether to participate, spectate or volunteer! With Mission sites scattered throughout the community and over 165 students, teachers and volunteers participating, Mission 150 is set to turn St. Thomas and Elgin County into a STEAM learning playground with a new adventure around every corner! For more information or to get involved as participant or volunteer, visit

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We are also busy preparing our workshops for ages 7 and up, starting September 12, 2017. While most will be new themes, there will be a few repeats due to popular demand such as Kid Roboteers and STEAMKids 101! Stay tuned or enroll now at

Finally, this fall we will welcome STEAM School in partnership with Thames Valley District School Board. This project will see seventy grade 10 students and four TVDSB teachers joining the STEAM Team this fall while students work to complete four regular high school credit courses through the lens of ‘making life better for someone else’. Students will undertake community based projects and work closely with the STEAM Education Centres staff to gain needed support throughout the fall semester. You can find more information on STEAM School at

So, as we close out our first year and look ahead to the future, we wish to express our sincere thanks to the community that we support and has supported us, as well as the St. Thomas Public Library staff. It’s been a phenomenal year and we look forward to meeting more people, making more partnerships, and providing greater essential learning opportunities to our rural region of learners and makers!

Jessica Moyes

Executive Director

STEAM Education Centres






3D Printer Upgrade

St. Thomas Public Library has two brand new 3D Printers! Come in and check out our new Lulzbots. These models are an upgrade from our previous Cube models: You will find them easier to use, they can print using many different filament materials, and more colour options are available. You can even bring in your own filament and 3D print for free! (Prints normally cost 10 cents per gram).

What have people been up to on the new printers? Right now the trend is fidget spinners. Print a cap and a shell and then add your own weights for a custom spinner that no one else will have! You can find hundreds of designs like these ones on Thingiverse:

Also exciting: You can watch what people are printing live on our new Twitch channel! The channel switches between our two printers so you can watch a 3D print in progress. See if you can guess what each print will be!

To learn how to use our Lulzbots, join one of our 3D Printing Certification Sessions. Check our online calendar  for session dates. You can register online with your library card, or drop by the Adult Information Desk to sign up. If you can’t make a Certification Session, we now have the option of booking a One on One Session. Ask at the Adult Information Desk and we’ll find a time for a staff member to assist you!

Stay tuned for more changes to Creators’ Community. We’re currently working on a Creators’ Corner, a welcoming work space to accommodate new classes and allow better access to our resources!

Palmer Donation Means “MakerSpace” for STPL

Sarah Macintyre MakerspaceDorothy Palmer Estate donates $50,000 to St. Thomas Public Library to create a MakerSpace

St. Thomas Public Library announced today that the Dorothy Palmer Estate has donated $50,000 to support the development of a St. Thomas Public Library MakerSpace.

MakerSpaces are part of a growing movement of hands-on, mentor-led learning environments to make and remake the physical and digital worlds. They foster experimentation, invention, creation, exploration, and innovation.

“We are excited about the opportunities that this funding presents to us,” Chief Librarian, Rudi Denham said.

“We are looking forward to creating an environment where our customers can interact with some cutting-edge technologies. The Library continues to be a dynamic community hub, and, with the generous support of the Palmer Estate, I am excited to be able to introduce this new type of service to our customers,” said Sarah Macintyre, Systems and Support Services Librarian.

St. Thomas Public Library will plan, design, and pilot a MakerSpace that will be available to the general public within the Library, located in downtown St. Thomas. The aim is that the MakerSpace will introduce adults, families, teens, and children to technology and equipment, including 3D printers, design software, video and audio recording, and mobile devices.

“This is a wonderful project,” stated Andrew Gunn, Trustee of the Dorothy Palmer Estate. “In the twenty-first century, the concept of literacy has expanded beyond reading and writing, and now includes digital, visual, and mechanical literacy. The new MakerSpace at the St. Thomas Public Library will be a terrific resource for the whole community, and especially for children and young adults who are curious about 3D printing, video and audio recording, and various design applications.”
For additional information, please contact:

Rudi Denham, CEO, St. Thomas Public Library

About St Thomas Public Library

In 2014, St Thomas Public Library is celebrating its 130th anniversary! The Library has been dedicated to meeting the lifelong learning, reading and information needs of St. Thomas residents for well over 100 years now, and our mission to educate, inform, and enrich the community has never been stronger! We look forward to expanding our services with the introduction of a MakerSpace in 2015. For more information, visit


About Dorothy Palmer

Dorothy Palmer was born in 1925 and was the only child of Fred and Ethel Ingram, who operated the Elgin County House of Industry from 1927 to 1942. Mrs. Palmer was a graduate of St. Thomas Collegiate Institute and later taught elementary school in Eden, Sparta, and St. Thomas. A lifelong resident of Elgin County, Dorothy lived for many years in Aylmer with her husband, John. Before her death in June 2010, Mrs. Palmer made a generous contribution to the St. Thomas Public Library, which was recognized with the establishment of the John and Dorothy Palmer Youth Library.

Library Super Conference 2014: A Universe of Possibilities

Superconference 2014

January 29th-February 1st, the Ontario Library Association hosted their Annual Superconference – A Universe of Possibilities – in Toronto! St. Thomas Public Library was lucky enough to send three staff members and two board members to this year’s conference. But many of you might be asking – what exactly is a library conference anyways? Just like any other profession, people who work in the library industry relish any opportunity to refresh their skills, learn some new strategies, and connect with other librarians. During the conference, people can attend sessions and workshops on topics ranging from “The Hottest Titles of 2014” to “Developing Mobile Printing in Your Library”. With well over a hundred sessions to choose from, there was no shortage of ideas!  But even more than being a space for us to learn some new skills, the conference is a great place to exchange ideas, meet colleagues old and new, and learn more about cutting edge technology and products. This year, they even had a hands-on makerspace for us to use, where we could try out 3D printers and pens!

3D Printer

On top of that, we attended the Ontario Public Library Awards Gala, hosted by Kevin Sylvester (Author, Illustrator, and Radio Broadcaster), with special guests Michael Chan (Minister, Tourism, Culture and Sport) and Stephen Davidson (Deputy Minister, Tourism, Culture and Sport). It was inspiring to watch our fellow librarians receive recognition for their hard work and outstanding programs! While we were there, we were pleased to receive a plaque acknowledging our recent Accreditation! What’s more, our very own CEO, Rudi Denham, was presented with an OLA Special Recognition Award for her role as editor of Ho-OPLA for over 10 years. What a night!

Rudi Denham

Despite it being a whirlwind few days, we have all come back inspired, and have brought with us new ideas about how to make the St. Thomas Public Library even better!