• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

'Science in Play 2Go' comes to Woodford library

BRINKLEY HUMSTON, 2, did some coloring with her mom, Allison, during the opening event of Science in Play 2GO at the Woodford County Library on Dec. 1. Because the Woodford County Library always has "fun, exciting things," Allison Humston says she was not surprised that Versailles gets to host Science in Play 2GO's inaugural three-month residency. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Children were busily exploring "Science in Play" hands-on activities at the Woodford County Library during an opening event for the Kentucky Science Center's early-childhood learning exhibit on Dec. 1. Joanna E. Hass, chief executive officer of the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville, described "Science in Play 2GO" hands-on activities as an effort to bring out the best in young children and their families. "This is an open-ended experience, an experience rich in loose parts," Haas explained. ".There's no one way to play and there's no one way to learn." During an interview, she described "Science in Play" as an opportunity to teach young children 21st Century skills: persistence, problem-solving, collaboration and communication. Math skills, for example, are nurtured with age-appropriate learning activities such as filling and emptying a basket with different-shaped objects. "The type of play that really gets those skills developing, that lead to success in school, lead to success in the workplace, lead to success in the economy are the skills nurtured by open-ended play. The play that provides a lot of variables," said Haas. Allison Humston liked seeing her three children getting excited about being creative and learning skills from a variety of hands-on activities. "It's a whole open world of excitement . they can learn so much," Humston said, while watching her youngest, 2-year-old Brinkley, "bounce" from one "Science in Play" activity to another. She said her 9-year-old son, Cole, was having just as much fun as his sister - figuring out how stuff works. With support from PNC and Genentech, and in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, Science in Play 2GO's three-week residency at the Woodford County Library kicks off a tour of Kentucky public libraries continuing next year and in 2018. "We envision a long, bright future for Science in Play," said Haas. Earlier, she told those attending the official "Science in Play 2Go" opening announcement that about 90 percent of a child's brain development occurs before the age of 5. "So high-quality experiences for children and families are so important at this early age," Haas said. She said these learn-play experiences will help prepare young children for future jobs and careers, which many adults cannot even imagine. Library Director Karen Kasacavage began last week's announcement of Science in Play 2GO's three-week residency at the Woodford County Library - the smallest of 10 public libraries certified as an exemplary library in Kentucky - by thanking the community for supporting "our small, but mighty library." "This exhibit will help us promote our mission of lifelong learning in a fantastic and exciting setting," said Kasacavage. "We are so fortunate to have this opportunity in the months of December, January and February." Science in Play 2GO officially opened to families on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Woodford County Library, 115 N. Main Street, in downtown Versailles. Kasacavage was approached by the Kentucky Science Center about hosting Science in Play 2GO about two months ago, according to Woodford County Library board member Camille Allen, because "we are a library that is always trying to be on the cutting edge, always trying to do the best for the community." A special education teacher, Allen knows the value of kids being able to explore the world around them through hands-on activities. "When you think about what a library is for," she said when asked about how hands-on exploration differs from a quiet activity like reading, "it's here for people to learn and to grow and expand their minds. "What better way to do that than to have hands-on stuff for kids (to explore) that's beyond just reading a book about science." Science in Play 2GO allows young children to experience concepts like gravity, and not just read about it, she said. "They figure things out," continued Allen. "They really apply their imaginations and brains, and it's so cool to watch that." Other members of the Woodford County Library's board of trustees were also very supportive of this opportunity for children here - and others visiting from nearby communities - to explore the world around them with hands-on activities. "We're giving them tools to expand that learning process to help get ready to meet the world, to help them function in the world," said library board member Donald Smith. Because the Woodford County Library always has "fun, exciting things," Humston says she was not surprised that Versailles will host Science in Play 2GO's inaugural three-month residency. Libraries across the state were invited to apply for a "Science in Play 2GO" residencies, which will give more families access to the Kentucky Science Center's researched-based "Science in Play" activities without having to travel to Louisville, according to Haas. "We are committed to helping Kentucky families, with young children, be inspired to learn together, learn for life (and) see everyday play as learning," said Haas.

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