MONTVILLE, NJ – Taking a scientific approach to chocolate was the Montville Township Public Library’s STEAM Project for April 5.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math, and the library’s “STEAM Project” program is a way for kids to explore these fields beyond the school atmosphere.
Students in grades 6 through 12 could attend the program, and tasted about a dozen chocolate bars from all over the world.
After tasting the chocolate, the teens tried to systematically pin down what makes good chocolate.
“A good candy has natural ingredients but still tastes good,” said Adoran Ball.
The teens were adamant that the 85% cacao bar they tried was unacceptable, calling it, “charcoal chocolate.”
They also decided that having flavorings in the chocolate, like bacon or cookies and cream, was a good idea. Young Adult and Community Services Librarian Jeff Cupo, who runs the program, posed questions to the group, like, “does shape matter?”
“We wanted to decide if sweet vs. ‘dry’ is important,” he said. “We tried to identify the range where everyone is happy.”
The candy program was attended by some members of the library’s Teen Advisory Board, a group that helps decide what materials the library buys, and what events, activities and services are offered. The board meets monthly.
“The advisory board builds a nice community,” said Aleksandar Dimoski, who is an advisory board secretary.
On April 19, the STEAM program was “macrophotography.” The students screwed macrolenses onto their cell phone cameras and took photos of small objects like flowers and coins. Attendees could keep the lenses after the program.
Other programs have included a Lego® competition, building wireless telegraphs and assembling hand-crank flashlights.
“One time we tried to make steam engines out of balloons, but that turned out to be much more complicated than we expected,” Cupo said.
The group also co-sponsored a movie about global warming with the Montville Township High School’s Earth Club and built a garden.
"The STEAM projects provide the library's teenage patrons with an opportunity to work with their hands, build problem solving skills, and have unique experiences," Cupo said.
The May teen programs will include:
STEAM projects: terrariums on May 10; catapults on May 24.
An improv club on May 8, a Lego® challenge on May 11 and 25, cookies and conversations on May 22, and a Super Smash Bros. tournament on May 5 and 19.
The next Teen Advisory Board Meeting will be May 16.
Most activities require registration at: Montville Township Public Library