by Susan Borders, Darby Free Public Library, PA

On Friday, March 11, 2020, at 3 pm, I received a call from my Board President.  He gave the following directions, “Close the Library at 5 pm. We don’t know when we will reopen.” COVID-19 had arrived in Darby Borough and we were to shelter in place.

The Darby Library Board of Directors were kind enough to keep paying the staff. The dedicated staff had issues with doing nothing. Within a week, we were sneaking back into the Library. Like the shoemaker’s elves working in secret, everything became clean, and organized. We missed our patrons. Can we safely do more?

The William Penn School District was disturbing breakfast and lunch, four times a week. With all the cleaning we pulled a lot of books. I began delivering books to the pick-up locations. They went as fast as the food. People needed new things to occupy the inside time.

Cleaning also exposed our overabundance of crafts and science supplies. We were used to hosting five or more programs a week.  For the Darby Library, this was the birth of “Take and Makes.”

July 2020 we were allowed to open up with restrictions. Only ten adults in the building, no programs and clean everything after each use. The adults were happy. The children were bored.  Teachers told me the students were missing hands-on activities. They did not have the supplies at their home for experiments. The focus of our “Take and Makes” changed and we created a different theme to reflect this change, “Bring Home The Science”. I applied and received a Grant from Giant Food Market to begin this new adventure.

We had new goals for this project: keep doing NASA activities, support the school’s curriculum, supply everything needed, and encourage students to come back for more.

See below the kits we came up with, and feel free to use in your own library.

Our first kit introduced acids and bases:

Bring Home the Science Kit #1 acid or base?

The kit contained:

  • Blue and Red Litmus Paper
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Powder
  • Petri dish x 2
  • Water
  • Pipette
  • Lemonade
  • Tea
  • Apple Juice
  • Observation Note Book and pen.

Directions for 6 experiments.

Bring Home the Science Kit #2 Testing for Acid

The kit needed :

  • Water from house faucet
  • Bottled spring water
  • Rain
  • Water from a local resource (ours was Darby Creek)
  • Pipette
  • Baking soda
  • PH Paper
  • 2-Vinegar
  • Petri dish
  • 10 pennies
  • Iron

Directions for 7 experiments.

The first and second kit supported the school’s curriculum. It supplied everything needed included the water and premeasured ingredients. The notebook included information on future activities like slime and free measuring spoon set if they completed three kits. This we hoped would encourage students to come back for more.

Bring Home the Science Kit #3 Our Place in Space

This got us back to NASA@My Library. Each kit includes the book, “Our Place in Space” by Robin Koontz (978-1681914329).

The Stained Glass Earth and Make a Pinwheel Galaxy.

The two activities came from

The kit contained:

  • Two 9” non-waxed paper plates
  • 1 pre cut
  • 20′ of wax paper
  • glue and small paint brush
  • Printed templates
  • Blue, green and white tissue paper
  • Popsicle stick
  • 1 chenille stem

Plus Directions

Other kits in our growing collection include:

  • Slime Time
  • Magic Crystals
  • Solution or Mixture
  • Nature Prints and dyes
  • Build your Own Mars Helicopter
  • UV Detectors
  • Exploring Earth: Paper Mountains
  • Windy City Tower           

One of the best gifts from joining NASA@ My Library was being pointed to Most of the “Bring Home The Science” kits are created directly from this site.

This program has enabled the small Darby Library staff to become more focused and organized, while working together to better our programs. The kits were put together in an assembly line fashion. We each knew the contents, and goal of every kit. The kits are then given away at the Library and brought to our afterschool programs. When we are allowed to host programs in the library, we will still use the kit style for many activities.

The kits let us reach our patrons during a time when social distancing and shutdowns were rampant. We hope these examples give you some ideas to use in your library. If you would like more detailed information and pictures email me at