Harford County Public Library recently unveiled the expansion of its LEAP: Learn, Explore and Play science kit collection.

According to a library news release, LEAP kits consist of high quality science equipment, materials and resources, and use play as a motivator for children to explore science and technology.


Originally housed in the Edgewood branch since 2007, this recent expansion includes LEAP kits at the Aberdeen, Bel Air and Whiteford libraries. According to the library, the collection grew three-fold in the last six months because of the overwhelming support from the community.

The Harford County Public Library Foundation received a $10,000 grant from the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council, or NMTC, to launch the LEAP Sponsorship Program, a matching funds program that offers firms and individuals interested in supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning the opportunity to sponsor one or more LEAP kits. Since its initiation six months ago, the program has attracted nine new donors and added more than 20 kits to the collection.

"We are thrilled to see the outstanding response from the community," Amber C. Shrodes, foundation director for Harford County Library, said in the news release. "With this expansion more families will have easier access to these exciting learning tools."

LEAP kits include topics such as bridge engineering, chemistry, dinosaurs, the human body and weather. LEAP programming is open to the public and sessions are led by skilled library staff. The Maryland Science Center, National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, along with the Harford County Astronomical Society, are also partners for many of these interactive programs.

Representatives from SAIC in Abingdon and NMTC were on hand to see the kits arrive at the Whiteford branch and had the opportunity to explore the new LEAP space, a science-themed area designed to encourage children to get hands-on experience with the kits, Shrodes said. Furniture and decorations for the LEAP space were generously funded by the North Harford Friends of the Library.

"We need more young students exposed to the wonders of science so that they will become excited about the subject and be encouraged to take STEM courses in school," John M. Ferriter, senior vice president for SAIC, a sponsor of the collection, said. "The Harford County Public Library LEAP Program provides science activities for children and their parents enabling them to explore at home how fun science and engineering can be! SAIC is proud to be part of this marvelous program."

In an increasingly technological world, STEM skills are crucial to a child's success, Shrodes said. Harford County Public Library officials recognized the importance of fostering STEM talent and launched the LEAP program in November 2007.

"Harford County Public Library is very proud of the services we provide to the community and the LEAP program is a vital component to what we offer to our customers," Library Director Mary Hastler said. "We understand the importance of STEM learning for today's generation and we are grateful for the amazing support we receive from our sponsors. These partnerships help enable the Library to be a vibrant and innovative resource for the community."

The LEAP kit collection can be reserved online and sent to the branch of your choice for pickup. To browse the collection, go to HCPLonline.org/programs/leap.

For further information on how to sponsor a LEAP kit, contact Shrodes at shrodes@HCPLonline.org or call 410-273-5600, ext. 2283.