Response from Scholarship Recipient Jessica Fredrickson

Hello!  My name is Jessica Fredrickson.  I currently work part-time for Jefferson County Public Library while attending Emporia State University’s SLIM program.

You could say I have a rocky relationship with science.

It started back in kindergarten, when I was that kid who ate the salt crystal experiment.  In high school I was kicked out of biology for writing “Kiss the Dissector” on a lab apron and playing jump rope with pig intestines.  I took physics purely for the field trip to Elitch’s at the end of the semester.  You get the idea.

So when the call came for volunteers to take up STEAM programming at my library this year, I stepped forward a bit apprehensively.  Luckily for me, STEAM was a hot topic at the CATS Winter Workshop!  I attended two fabulous sessions on the subject.  The first was led by my fellow classmate Cydney Clink and recent ESU graduate Brittany Raines, both of whom are taking their High Plains Library community by a STEM storm.  Cydney shared helpful advice for building community partnerships, including:

  • Keep the conversations open and ongoing.
  • Be clear about mutual obligations.
  • Carefully consider the amount of preparation and time out your staff will be spending.
  • Once you start, the word will spread… so be strategic!

Brittany took us through the essential elements of a STEM program and provided several helpful suggestions and ideas.  I will always test my programs ahead of time and prepare materials for 10% more of my anticipated audience!  Best of all, we got to build our own balloon cars and slingshot rockets.  Talk about takeaways!

Another one of my classmates was kind enough to sacrifice her lunch break to show the gang of ESU SLIM students around the amazing Library 21c.  Here we are learning about the Maker in Residence Program…


After the impromptu tour and delicious lunch, it was time to sit down with STEAM again.  Kayci Barnett and Sharon Rice shared more tips for collaborating with your community and some wonderful resources for getting started with STEAM, including  We got to play with bottle rockets, Google Cardboard and more.  Most of all, I learned that STEAM programming is not about crafts, it’s not expensive… and it’s not scary!  “Remove the fear of failure,” they said.  “A non-reaction is still a result!”

Thanks to the amazing presenters and those who made my scholarship possible, I feel much more confident and prepared to help with STEAM programming this year.  I feel inspired!  The best part of CATS was connecting with youth service professionals all across the state.  As always, I am humbled by the work you do and the creative ways you find to serve your communities.

See you again next year!

The opinions expressed here are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.


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