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Avon Library's IGNITE Club Sparks Science Interest Among Girls

Several months ago, the Avon Free Public Library decided to launch IGNITE, a program designed to spark interest in science and technology among girls.

Thanks to an anonymous donation made to the library, teen librarian Marisa Hicking and Jessica Palmer, the library's technology and technical services manager, were able to kicks things off.

"We could have gone so many different ways, but we kept coming back to girls and technology," Hicking said.

To prepare, Palmer researched into girls and science and thought about how they might use that in developing the program.

"We were looking at the differences between the levels of interest and how to get girls interested and the differences in learning styles," Palmer said. "There's a lot about how girls are more responsive to programs that are collaborative or open ended or created. We have incorporated a lot in here to play to their strengths in their learning style."

IGNITE is held once a month and will continue to be held through October with hopes of extending the program into 2019. The first session of the day is for girls in seventh through 12th grade. The second session is for boys and girls in fifth through 12th grade.

The expectation, and it's what Hicking and Palmer have seen over the last few months, is for the girls in the first session to become the leaders and mentors of the second session as they teach a new group what they just learned about.

"It's really exciting because we're trying to get those girls in the first session take a leadership role in the second session," Palmer said. "As they are volunteering and teaching what they've learned to other kids it's cementing what they learned and it's giving them a chance to talk about technology and make it something that's more familiar."

On Aug. 15, the group of girls were able to make air cannons and a hoverboard. The program was lead by library intern Jack Clonan, a Central Connecticut State University student. He did the exact experiment in a transportation class at the college. His friend and classmate Stephanie Willoughby was on hand to help out too.

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