Heather Love Beverley and Heather Thompson | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Educators

“The Heathers,” as their peers sometimes refer to them, are STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) education masters and collaborators. In fact, so closely do they work together, and with so much mutual admiration, that they nominated each other as Movers & Shakers—and were jointly nominated by others as well.

Heather Love Beverley

HEATHER LOVE BEVERLEY

CURRENT POSITION

Children's Services Assistant Manager, Cook Memorial Public Library District, Libertyville, IL

DEGREE

MLIS, Dominican University, 2005

FOLLOW

@WittyLibrarian

Heather Thompson

HEATHER THOMPSON

CURRENT POSITION

Youth Services Programming Librarian, Kenosha Public Library, WI

DEGREE

MSLIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013

HONORS

American Library Association Emerging Leader, 2017

 

FOLLOW BOTH

steminlibraries.com

Photos ©2019 Matt Lawrence Photography

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STEAM Team

“The Heathers,” as their peers sometimes refer to them, are STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) education masters and collaborators. In fact, so closely do they work together, and with so much mutual admiration, that they nominated each other as Movers & Shakers—and were jointly nominated by others as well.

The two first approached STEM together back in 2014 at Cook Memorial Library (Thompson moved to the Kenosha Public Library in 2016). “STEM was definitely not in my comfort zone, but our community wanted STEM-based programming, and if it’s something my community wants, I’ll try my best,” says Beverley. Their first three programs were about roller coasters, extracting DNA from fruit, and building hydraulic butterflies. Both were pleasantly surprised at how approachable the topics were, despite the women’s lack of science expertise. One of Beverley’s catchphrases—“It’s OK to admit to kids that you don’t know something. It’s a great opportunity to say ‘let’s find out together’ ”—still sticks with Thompson. “Heather has inspired so many youth services librarians to offer [these] programs by giving them permission to demote themselves from perceived expert to facilitator,” says Thompson.

The pair created a blog, STEMinlibraries.com, which provides librarians worldwide with turnkey STEAM programming. Each post contains information on how to run the program, experiments and the science behind them, supply lists, and suggestions on how to age any activity up or down. As of January 2019, the site had more than 34,500 visitors and 325,000 views.

Dedicated as she is to encouraging love of STEAM, Thompson lost no time in doing so at her new library. Within two weeks of starting, she had identified a grant opportunity, planned a STEAM Outreach program for ten after-school care sites that serve Kenosha’s Title I schools—and garnered $5,000 in grant money. Thompson also partnered with a local public school, where the population is 90 percent economically disadvantaged, to offer an after-school camp called Sew Sew Gadgets!

The children learned not only how to sew but also how circuits work and incorporated the two lessons by making e-textiles. Although none of the participants had ever been to a library program before, 88 percent said they wanted to return.

The pair’s passion has not abated. Thompson is planning to ramp up STEAM programs for her littlest patrons, babies and toddlers. And Beverley aims to make STEM programming more mobile, taking it out into the community.

“Knowing that what we’re doing is helping others motivates me to try new things,” says Thompson. “Watching children discover how the world works through experiments at a library program is a joy.”

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