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






Get to Know: Elgin Children’s Network (ECN)


Did you know?

The St. Thomas Public Library is a member of the Elgin Children’s Network (ECN).

What’s that, you ask?

ECN brings together a number of agencies and individuals from our local education, health and social services sectors.  Through the years, ECN has evolved to become an innovative and collaborative planning table.  As a group, we strive to put children and families at the centre of all discussions, decisions and actions.  The goal is to build communities where every child has the opportunity to be engaged, empowered, and to thrive.
Can you give me an example of something ECN has done?

Yes!  There are two examples, in fact. 

One: ECN was instrumental in the planning and development of the Northside Neighbourhood Hub.  The Hub is a public, accessible space where people can come together to Connect, Celebrate, Discover, Explore and Share. People can easily participate in a variety of free or low-cost activities, seek information about different services and supports in the community, sign up for a program offered right in their neighbourhood or simply drop-in to connect with a friend.  Check it out at 114 Confederation Drive or give them a call at 519-631-5182.  You can also find them on Facebook:

Two: ECN has also recently launched a website  The site is designed to connect parents and caregivers with people, places and resources that can help them.  Check it out today!

Why is it important for the library to be involved with ECN?

Sitting at the ECN table gives us a unique insight into the programs and services available for children and families around Elgin County.  We can share this information with library customers.  We can also use it to make sure our programs and services complement, and don’t duplicate, what’s already available in our community.  It also provides us with opportunities to expand the reach of library services.  For example, stay tuned to hear more about our new holds pick up location at the Hub!

Reason #63: We Proudly Own Local Art Donations

Reason #63 - We proudly own local art donations!

St. Thomas and Elgin County are blessed with an artistic community. As a “Community Hub,” St. Thomas Public Library is proud to display some of that amazing talent. Our “Art in the Library” program has hosted MANY local artists who use a variety of media to express themselves and as their creative outlet. Our monthly feature wall has displayed acrylics, watercolours, photography, mixed media, charcoal, spray paint, Copic markers, printmaking, and, well, you get the idea – everything but the kitchen sink. (Although, if someone used the kitchen sink as an art piece, we probably wouldn’t turn it away.)

But our featured art wall on the main level isn’t our only art feature. Several local artists and community members have donated original pieces, prints, and statues. We even have a stained glass piece! We invite everyone to tour all levels of the library, including the Board Room and foyer, to see our donated original artwork, prints, and statues. We’d especially like to thank the artists and the donors of the art pieces that proudly decorate our library.

Thank you to:

  • Artist St. Thomas Smith and donor Major Russel T. Rickwood
  • Helen E. Simpson
  • Artist Michael Kompf and donor John Kinnear
  • Photographer David A. White
  • Artist (statue creator) Rebecca Sisler
  • Prints by Jonathon Hayes and Mary Rose Sanderson donated by Lewis H. Gloin
  • Artist Mary Louise White
  • Artist Laura Woermke
  • Artist Darren Thompson
  • Stained glass artists Ted Goodden donated by Religious Society of Friends
  • Photographer Terri Scott

The library is SO much more than a warehouse for books. St. Thomas Public Library is also a place that promotes culture, creativity, and beauty through art. Sounds like a good reason to celebrate to me!

Kettle Creek Plants 1 Millionth Tree

KCCA celebrates One Million Trees            

St. Thomas – Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (KCCA) wants the community to help celebrate a significant milestone. In June 2013 KCCA will plant its one-millionth tree.

“Hundreds of landowners have helped us to reach this goal by retiring acres of land,” said Jeff Lawrence, KCCA’s forest and soils supervisor. “This is a success story for the whole community.”

The milestone is being marked with the launch of a new corporate logo for 2013. The tag line “One Million Trees” has been added together with a tree line with one larger, greener tree in the forefront.

“The logo will be used throughout 2013 as a visual reminder of our accomplishment,” said Luiza Moczarski, KCCA’s public relations supervisor. “After this year the logo will be used solely by our tree planting program.”

KCCA is also planning a number of special events leading up to the planting of the one-millionth tree in June, including a speaker’s series, art show and a contest to choose the species of the one-millionth tree. The full campaign and details on how the community can become involved will be revealed at the Authority’s Annual General Meeting on February 20, 2013 to be held at the St. Thomas Public Library, Carnegie Room, at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public.

“Dr. John Bacher, author of ‘Two Billion Trees and Counting’, a biography of Dr. Edmund Zavitz, the first provincial forester in Ontario, will be our guest speaker,” says Ms. Moczarski. “I think everyone will find the story of Dr. Zavitz, who saved Ontario from floods, erosion and fire, inspiring. We’ve planted one million trees but there is still more work to do.”

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For more information:
Luiza Moczarski
Public Relations Supervisor
519-631-1270 ext.224