Weaving Our Way to the Moon 

An older woman works with computer guidance parts for the Apollo space program.
image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Register for class: https://howardcounty.librarycalendar.com/events/weaving-our-way-moon 
Saturday, March 19; 3 – 4 pm
HCLS Glenwood Branch
Ages 11 and up. Allow 20 minutes. 

by Lori C.

Learn the fascinating forgotten history of the LOLs – the Little Old Ladies of NASA’s Apollo Missions – with a hands-on STEM activity that celebrates the women who “wove our way to the moon.” Discover how core rope memory powered spaceflight, then create a simple beaded message using binary code. 

When you hear the word, “weaving” and the phrase, “little old ladies,” what image comes to mind? Most likely the mental picture is not one of making a sophisticated computer program designed to send the Apollo spacecraft to the moon! For Women’s History Month, we are going to celebrate the women who, using ferrite core beads and copper wire, literally wove the components that made up software programs for the Apollo Guidance Computer.  

The “little old ladies” or LOLs moniker certainly was not the most progressive way of referring to these highly skilled factory workers who crafted the core rope memory for NASA. Their precise weaving and manufacturing skills were crucial to the success of the Apollo program and to the astronauts arriving safely on the Moon.  

The NASA Apollo Guidance Computer used read-only, core rope memory to store its programs. The weaving was complicated: “The cores are arranged in ropes of 1024 cores each. 10 inhibit pairs (20 wires) provide the address-decoder weave as 2^10=1024. Although the memory words are 16 bits wide, each core has up to 64 sense wires woven through it.”* Remarkably, this guidance system used only 72k of memory, which is equivalent to the memory of a simple calculator. 

Want to try your hand at making a simple version of core rope memory in the tradition of the LOLs? Join us at the Glenwood Branch for a brief history overview of the contributions of these amazing women who “wove our way to the moon” and then craft a single word-weaving project using binary code, thread, and beads.   

Lori, the Teens’ Instructor & Research Specialist at the Glenwood Branch, idolizes Sally Ride and in an alternate life would have trained to be an astronaut. She also loves baseball, knitting, and reading dystopian novels. 

*Core Rope & Woven-Wire Memory Systems by B. Hilpert, April 2015
https://web.archive.org/web/20160822041959/http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~hilpert/e/corerope/index.html 

One Person’s Trash…

The picture us of a leaping reindeer made from colorful tubes of scrolled paper, against a lime green background.
Join us for a reindeer craft on Stress Free STEAM evening!

By Holly L.

One person’s trash….is another person’s CRAFT!

Holidays have you feeling stressed? Relieve some of that tension and join us for Stress Free STEAM for Adults on Thursday December 2 at 7 pm at HCLS Miller Branch. We will be making easy, seasonal upcycled crafts using everyday materials. Try your hand at some dazzling wall art, paper pillow boxes (perfect for small gifts), or a festive paper tree.

The picture is of two paper pillow box crafts made from recycled cardboard from a Chex box of cereal, both laying on an orange tablecover.
Paper pillow boxes like these made from recycled cardboard are the perfect container for small gifts.

All abilities welcome. Beginners and the non-crafty are encouraged to come. Materials provided.

Registration required. Register here or call 410.313.1950.

For further reading, check out our collection of books on upcycling.

Also, did you know that you can access several crafty magazines such as HGTV, Simply Knitting, and Family Handyman online for free using your library card? Visit Overdrive to browse our complete collection.

Holly L. is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting and appreciates an audiobook with a good narrator.

Stress-Free Steam for Adults

The picture of the craft is of a turkey made from beads, multicolored feathers in fall shades of brown, orange, and red, strips of brown leather for the legs and feet, with a walnut shell for the body.

By Holly L.

Does the prospect of a second pandemic holiday season already have you on edge? Did you feel a pang of sadness when your kids aged out of the family craft classes? Would you like to unwind in a relaxed setting with some calming hands-on fun? Are these questions getting tedious?

If you answered yes to any of the above, please join us on at the Miller Branch on Thursday, November 4 at 7 pm for Stress-Free S.T.E.A.M. for adults. We will provide materials for three fun fall-themed crafts, including a terrific turkey pin, an awesome autumn leaf placemat, and a brilliant beaded harvest corncob.

The fall placemat depicted is of various geometric shapes and fall leaves in different colors, cut and pasted onto a blue background and then laminated.

Focus on one project or make a few, it’s up to you! No prior craft experience needed and all abilities welcome.

Registration required. Please register by clicking here or call 410.313.1950.

The picture shows a craft of an ear of corn, made from beads in fall shades of red, orange, yellow, and white for the kernels, and brown pipe cleaners for the cob.

Holly L. is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting and appreciates an audiobook with a good narrator.