Black & Veatch renews $90,000 commitment to Johnson County Library MakerSpace

Black & Veatch and Johnson County Library celebrated a renewed commitment to the MakerSpace at Central Resource Library. Photo credit Jim Mathis.

Black & Veatch is continuing its partnership with Johnson County Library to provide STEM learning opportunities for children by renewing its three-year, $90,000 commitment to the MakerSpace at Central Resource Library.

The Overland Park-based engineering and construction firm provides science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach for children to get hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom. To celebrate that renewed commitment, members of the firm and library hosted a reception Wednesday morning at the Black & Veatch MakerSpace at Central Resource Library, 9875 W 87th St. in Overland Park.

During the reception, young MakerSpace Summer Passport members enjoyed small STEM projects, such as building tiny catapults from cardboard and rubber bands.

Young makers practiced their STEM skills by making tiny catapults at the MakerSpace reception Wednesday morning.

Johnson County Library named the facility the “Black & Veatch MakerSpace” after renovations and expansion of the space in 2016.

The partnership is the first of its kind in the library’s history. The library foundation joined Black & Veatch’s Building a World of Difference Foundation to expand the MakerSpace’s size and scope.

“This space would not be possible without the support of Black & Veatch,” said Sean Casserley, county librarian of Johnson County Library, adding that the MakerSpace shows STEM career opportunities to children. “They understand that people like to shape their world. The space is about learning and discovering for yourself.”

The renewed gift permits the MakerSpace to pursue new projects, including brand-new virtual reality hardware for library patrons to develop their own VR projects and explore “the cutting-edge intersection of 3D modeling, virtual reality and digital fabrication.”

Johnson County librarians are working with Black & Veatch to book field trips. “Library Makers” may also work with teachers and administrators to possibly integrate these technologies in their schools.

And the program will also expand development and circulation of Maker Kits, which will contain equipment that can be checked out.

Young MakerSpace Summer Passport members built tiny catapults from cardboard and rubber bands. Photo credit Jim Mathis.

“The MakerSpace has become a valuable resource that makes science, technology, engineering and math accessible and fun for problem-solvers of all ages,” said Steve Edwards, chairman and chief executive officer of Black & Veatch. “Having our name attached to the MakerSpace helps the library expand its offerings and keeps STEM-focused activities within reach of the young people in our community.”

Johnson County Library and Black & Veatch reported that more than 174,000 people have visited the MakerSpace since March 2016.

“Black & Veatch’s commitment has definitely made a difference in the worlds of our patrons,” Casserley said. “The MakerSpace is Johnson County’s home for builders and innovators of all kinds, and we’re pleased to continue this important work with Black & Veatch’s generosity.”