Neighborhood North Museum of Play awarded grant to secure a digital maker space
BEAVER FALLS, Pa. — Neighborhood North Museum of Play was recently awarded $50,000 to create a digital maker space in its facility, which will transform digital comprehension and savvy in Beaver County.
Funded by the Eden Hall Foundation to expand access to digital technologies to students in Beaver Falls, the digital maker space could look like a specific section of the museum dedicated to vinyl cutting, 3D printing and other tools to help integrate digital technology with making.
“We sought this grant to help make digital technologies more accessible to kids, but part of what makes a digital maker space exciting is that it creates an accessible entry point for learning about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and computer science for adult learners too,” Christine Kroger, executive director of Neighborhood North Museum of Play, said. “That helps adults, of course, but it also helps the kids when their parents or grandparents have more comfort around new technologies and can help navigate the tools needed to help with homework, job applications, etc.”
The digital maker space grant is timely, as it coincides with President Joe Biden’s federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which will, in part, invest $1.16 billion in broadband access across Pennsylvania, with Beaver County as a recipient.
Expanded broadband means more local residents than ever will have internet access, breaking down barriers to technology not only for children and students but for adults, too.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro visited the Carnegie Free Library of Beaver Falls in early July to discuss internet equity alongside Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority Executive Director Brandon Carson and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
“When Pennsylvanians are connected to reliable broadband, they have better health outcomes, better education outcomes, and better economic outcomes,” Shapiro said. “That’s why we need to invest in broadband, right now, to grow our economy and strengthen our communities. Accessible, reliable, affordable broadband is important for every community and every family across this Commonwealth — no matter your zip code.”
This effort comes at a convenient moment as Neighborhood North’s digital maker space isn’t only a STEM activity for children. While the Eden Hall Foundation’s grant positions Neighborhood North for a pilot year, the museum hopes the community maker space will have a larger impact on helping all members of the family take full advantage of regional connectivity in the coming years.
“Connecting the digital maker space to career pathways early on, especially more creative ones, is also something I find particularly intriguing,” Kroger said. “Our learning ecosystem is interconnected, and I think something like a maker space is ripe for helping learners in all the stages in that system in interesting ways.”
Equipment will be installed by the end of August with Neighborhood North staff receiving professional development from the Carnegie Science Center through September. The first project is slated for October. By late-September, the space should be open to the public.
Participation in the digital maker space for children and families will be covered by the cost of admission.
About Neighborhood North Museum of Play: Neighborhood North Museum of Play is Beaver County’s first children’s museum where you’ll find a unique space designed to foster curiosity, learning, and connection. Neighborhood North envisions our diverse communities strengthened by families through playing, making, and innovating together.
About The Eden Hall Foundation: At Eden Hall Foundation, we view our work through a woman’s lens to improve the quality of life for all people across our region. This perspective is unique, and our commitment to the betterment of the region is indisputable. If you work to improve the lives of women, families, and all people in Southwestern Pennsylvania, we urge you to start a conversation. We’re ready to hear from you.
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