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Library takes public to final frontier

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Jenny White, left, and her daughter, Emmy, 7 , interact with the green screen Tuesday at Discover Space at Braswell Memorial Library.

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By Amelia Harper
Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Local educators, dignitaries and library patrons faced an out-of this world experience Tuesday when they gathered at Braswell Memorial Library as Mayor David Combs officially opened the new Discover Space exhibition.

“This is a great opportunity for children in our area to be able to learn about space exploration without having to travel to a major city,” Combs told the Telegram. “I am really impressed that the library is only one of eight libraries not just in the state, but in the entire nation, to be able to host this exhibit. This is another example of how our library is a major resource and a real asset to our community.”

The opportunity to host the new exhibition came as the result of a special grant awarded to the library. The exhibit, Discover Space: A Cosmic Journey, was developed by the Space Science Institute's National Center for Interactive Learning in partnership with the American Library Association's Public Programs Office, the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Afterschool Alliance. The project also is supported by the National Science Foundation.

“This is such as fabulous exhibit,” said Kathy Winslow, director of the N.C. Wesleyan College library. “It offers a lot to learn and a lot of fun as well. It is remarkable that this exhibit was able to come to Rocky Mount.”

Discover Space provides a unique educational experience focusing on topics such as the planets, asteroids, comets, Mars exploration, solar storms and the search for habitable worlds beyond the solar system. Local educators seem excited about the learning opportunities the new exhibit offers.

“This is a very engaging exhibit,” said Melissa Butts, a K-5 STEM education specialist with Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. “The library is also providing professional development and lesson plans to help teachers as they bring students to see the exhibit.”

Karen Boone, a math and science education specialist for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said she was pleased with the level of knowledge taught in the exhibit and the fact that it provides interactive formative assessments in the form of trivia quizzes. 

“We will definitely be encouraging teachers to take advantage of this opportunity,” Boone said. 

The interactive exhibit is open until Feb. 8, 2017, in the octagonal Battle Reading Room on the first floor of the library. Discover Space: A Cosmic Journey features more than 20 stations, many providing hands-on activities or interactive displays related to space education.

Though the exhibit is open to all patrons, library Director Catie Roche hopes Discover Space will offer students from surrounding counties an opportunity for space exploration close to home. Roche has invited participation from the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Edgecombe County Public Schools, Wilson County Public Schools and Halifax County Public Schools. However, she said the exhibit also is open to other schools and people as well for free.

“We have already had schools sign up for tours of the exhibit, but we still have plenty of time available,” Roche said. “Teachers can register online at the Braswell Memorial Library website to set up special tours of the exhibit.”

Though tours are helpful for groups coming to the library, Roche said the exhibit is designed so that people can explore it for themselves. However, she said the library also will be offering a variety of special programs focusing on different aspects of the universe and space exploration geared toward varying age levels.

For a complete list of special programs featuring the Discover Space exhibit, go to http://braswell-library.libguides.com/home/space.

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