Deepa in Hillsboro Public Library's Maker Lab
Yellow breasted chat
Rocks that Deepa has collected and polished
To Deepa Chandra, working at a library is a science … and that’s a good news for her young patrons and their families.
Chandra, library assistant for Hillsboro Public Library, brings her degrees in physics and chemistry and her background as a programmer to the library’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) education series.
She created the Maker Lab series at Hillsboro four years ago to give families the opportunity to explore STEAM projects. “It’s so exciting to see parents and kids interacting, learning and discovering things together,” she says.
Like other library events, Maker Lab has gone virtual since March, and Deepa has adapted projects to use things that families can easily find around the house. Recent labs featured a marshmallow launcher made from toilet paper rolls and rubber bands, and a simple device made from a tub, a plastic bag and sand that enables kids to “see” sound.
Chandra is also adept at turning her story times into engaging science discovery. A book about a lizard that hides by blending into its environment turned into a video on the science of how we see color.
Deepa has been working in Washington County libraries for the past 14 years, since relocating to Oregon after working in the computer industry in India and Singapore.
“I enjoyed the software industry, because you’re constantly solving problems,” she says. “But it’s solitary. In the library you get to help others explore what you know. You get to share your passion. I’m energized by helping kids learn and do new things.”
When she’s not inspiring future scientists, Deepa enjoys bird watching, learning about local geology, and rockhounding. “This area is so rich in geology – you only have to go to the coast to find these amazing rocks,” she says. “And Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mt. St. Helens just blew my mind.”
Chandra finds agates and jaspers along the coast and the Clackamas and John Day Riverbeds. Her fossil collection was gathered while she explored Oregon from the Wheeler High School fossil beds in the east to Vernonia near the coast.
She’s also looking forward to the time when she can once again safely visit her daughter and one-year-old grandson in California.
Chandra, along with her Hillsboro Public Library colleagues, has been creating online access and programming opportunities for patrons while library buildings are closed, but looks forward to when families can return.
“All of us do this job because we want to help others,” she says. “It’s nice to hear patrons’ voices on the phone … but seeing them again will be even better.”