Valley of the Tetons Library, the Hispanic Resource Center, and Radical Neighboring have teamed up to offer a free screening of “Underwater Dreams” at Pierre’s Playhouse on Oct. 8.
“Underwater Dreams” is a 2014 documentary in which four undocumented Mexican students at a Title I school (a federal designation for a school with a large concentration of low-income students) win a national underwater robotics competition, defeating a team from MIT in the process. The film was screened at the White House Science Fair in 2015.
This is the library’s first time partnering with Radical Neighboring, a group that was founded by Church of the Tetons with the aim of holding compassionate community conversations about immigration. Because the documentary, which has Spanish subtitles, is family friendly and features students, the school district opted to use the screening as its monthly Noche Familiar bilingual family event.
Librarian Tucker Tyler said the library is seeking out new partnerships like this in order to pool resources and reach a broader audience.
“Shared resources are essential,” he said. “We’re working on building bridges.”
Tyler manages the Makerspace at the Driggs library. Kids who are jazzed on the robots they see in “Underwater Dreams” will find ample opportunity for experimentation in the Makerspace, but there’s something there for everyone, whether you’re into old typewriters, embroidery, 3-D printing, or music. Tyler sees many benefits in offering STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to the community. Depending on who you ask, the acronym could also be STEAM (with art) or STREAM (with research or reading), but Tyler prefers simply “Making” because the term is all-encompassing.
“I think kids learn fast in here,” he said about the Makerspace. “Parents seem surprised by what kids get accomplished. It’s a chance for them to identify problems and find a solution, while communicating ideas to each other and working together. It also gives them more of an appreciation for the world we live in.”
Tyler estimated that around a quarter of the kids who come to Makerspace open hours are Hispanic, a sample size that is reflective of the valley’s demographics. He has a lot of ideas for initiatives that make the space more accessible to everyone, including multi-lingual Making.
“English speakers take it for granted that we have the word for everything. But for deaf people, American Sign Language doesn’t even have some of that vocabulary,” he said. “I would love to have a glossary board with objects next to words in Spanish, for example, to build vocabularies in different languages.”
Tyler added that many of the kids and adults who spend time in the Makerspace are privileged because they can explore the environment for entertainment. That doesn’t mean those skills don’t have real world value. According to the Idaho STEM Action Center, 16 of the 20 fastest growing careers in the state require STEM skills, and those jobs pay double the median wage. Even aside from careers, people can come to the Makerspace to learn how to repair used goods, mend their clothes, or navigate the Internet.
“It looks like fun and games on the surface but that’s not inherent to what STEM is all about,” Tyler said.
The Makerspace is a manifestation of something libraries are trying to provide in the 21st century: a community-oriented space where people with common interests can learn, socialize, and collaborate.
“One of the library’s goals is to serve new immigrants and help those groups become part of a new place and help them get by,” Tyler continued. “There’s so much power and potential in Making. You want as many perspectives represented as possible.”
“Underwater Dreams” will start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at Pierre’s Playhouse. The Driggs Makerspace holds open hours Monday-Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. and the first and third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon.