BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buying science equipment for your children can be very expensive and not feasible for families with limited income.
Many families don't realize that they can borrow a variety of science kits from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library for free - and that includes one specially put together by NASA.
The NASA Space Explorers Backpack includes a telescope, mini-programmable robot, star charts, books and instructions. It is worth a couple-hundred dollars and can be checked-out for free with a library card.
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library was one of only 70 libraries in the U.S. to be selected for the backpack program by NASA.
Demand for the Space Explorers Backpack is so great that there is a two-week backlog to get it.
To borrow one for your family, the library recommends making reservations through its online system, which can be accessed by clicking here.
In addition to the NASA backpack, the library also loans out a variety of science totes filled with experiments, books, and instructions on themes such as electricity, optics, physics and motion.
The science totes are available for teachers, groups and parents who home-school their children. They can also be checked out with a library card without cost.
Since the NASA backpack is so popular, the library is looking to expand the program and add additional backpacks. Library staff are also developing other science totes, including a prototype now being tested to teach flight propulsion.
"This is what the library is all about. Everyone thinks of books but it is more than just books," said Daniel Caufield, manager of central collection and staff at the Buffalo & Erie Co. Public Library.
Caufield said the goal of the backpack and science tote programs is to help get kids interested in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).