Finding A Dinosaur In The Westport Library

Two years ago, Micki McCabe began printing 3D items at the Westport Library. They accompanied Braille books she — the director of Connecticut Braille Association, based around the corner in the Westport Woman’s Club Imperial Avenue building — had produced.

At the library she met Bradley Snow, and his mother. Bradley — a visually impaired 6th grader at Coleytown Middle School — told Micki of his love for dinosaurs. He’d already created a dinosaur book for Coleytown Elementary School, and learned about 3D printing at the library.

Micki — an educator herself, whose organization helps students pursue special interests outside of the classroom — suggested a dinosaur project. Bradley began keeping a dinosaur journal. She also gave him a book: “Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs!” by Connecticut author Kathleen Kudlinski.

Bradley Snow, with an actual dinosaur bone and his 3D replica.

Bradley Snow, with an actual dinosaur bone and his 3D replica.

Kudlinski encouraged a visit to the Peabody Museum in New Haven. Armand Morgan — senior instructor of education — gave Bradley a tour of the paleontology department. It was a thrilling day for the young dinosaur-lover.

The next day, Morgan came to Westport. He met Bradley and Micki at the library’s MakerSpace. He brought a real dinosaur bone — and helped Bradley make a 3D replica of it.

Bradley already knew all the particulars of the bone, along with the dinosaur’s name, and where it was found.

Micki calls the library visit “fun and magical.” Mike Altis gave the small group his undivided attention. When other visitors realized that an actual dinosaur bone was being scanned in their library, they gathered around to watch.

Mike Altis, Bradley Snow and Armand Morgan, at the Westport Library.

Mike Altis, Bradley Snow and Armand Morgan, at the Westport Library.

After it was over, Bradley had a question: Could he volunteer at Connecticut Braille? He loves to help people.

Soon, he’ll be putting together Braille books.

From the Triassic Era to now, and from Coleytown to Yale: Life is all about making connections.

(The project was made possible by a grant to Connecticut Braille Association, from the Norma F. Pfriem Association.)

2 responses to “Finding A Dinosaur In The Westport Library

  1. Jocelyn Barandiaran

    Dan, thanks for sharing this story. Micki McCabe, Armand Morgan, Mike Altis and Bradley Snow all seem like engaging, kind, creative, generous people — so neat to learn how they connected, and to follow the trail from an interest, to a conversation at the library, to a book, to a museum, another conversation, and back to the library where all the players and the interests converged. So heartwarming to know that all of Micki, Armand, Mike and Bradley (and his mother) are part of the extended Westport community. Just one more reason I love the Westport Library — encouraging inter-generational interactions, connections and learning; and providing a platform and resources (human and other) to help people pursue their passions and deepen their understandings, of each other and the world around them. This story is a gratifying illustration of how the Library fulfills its mission every day: “To empower individuals and strengthen the community by providing an environment that stimulates curiosity, encourages lifelong learning and promotes the open and lively exchange of information and ideas.” Indeed!

  2. This summer, I brought my students, who were taking a course on 3D printing, on a ‘spontaneous field trip’ to the Library Maker Space to meet Micki. Without skipping a beat, she shared what she was doing, demonstrated how the scanner works, and answered student questions. The course I was teaching, co-sponsored by the Library and Level Up Village, connected Westport children with kids in a village in Nicaragua to build solar-powered flashlights together. The Westport Library attracts people of generous spirit who are curious about what life is like for others, and we are so lucky to have this spirited meeting place at the heart of our community!