STEM AC and Library employees hold stress relief kits

The Science of Stress Relief: New Kits in Libraries Aim to Reduce Stress in Kids

Salt Lake City, UT (February 11, 2022)Most of us are probably feeling pretty stressed these days. And while some stress can be positive, long-term stress can cause physical problems and unhealthy behaviors. That’s why the Utah STEM Action Center partnered with the Utah State Library division to bring stress-coping mechanisms directly to kids. “Hacking Your Brain: The Science of Stress Relief” is a kit of materials in a backpack that the public can check out from their local library. The backpacks will be distributed this week in libraries statewide.

The kits focus on movement, mindfulness, deep breathing, calm down space, and creation. The STEM Action Center team researched and prepared activities that are proven by science to lower stress. Movement such as jumping rope or yoga releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that make us feel happy. Deep breathing helps slow down our breathing and relaxes our muscles in times of stress.

Creation – learning a new skill or hobby such as crochet – is another good way to reduce stress. It helps our brains remember we’re capable of doing anything we set our minds to. The scientific word for this is “efficacy.”

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a challenging and stressful two years for everyone, including our children,” said Tamara Goetz, Ph.D., Director of the Utah STEM Action Center. “Our goal for this program is to use proven techniques to lower stress and give kids the tools they need to put those techniques into action. The bonus is that they learn some science and have fun.”

The project was funded by a CARES grant provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and is designed for kids in second to fourth grade (ages 7-10). The backpacks can be found at the following libraries: There are 400 backpacks that will go to libraries across the state. Items such as the journals and thinking putty will be replaced when the backpack is returned to the library.

“The Science of Stress Relief” Kits include:

  • Good Morning Yoga by Mariam Gates
  • Breathe Like a Bear by Kira Willey
  • Kids Learn to Crochet by Lucinda Guy
  • Mindfulness activity cards
  • Movement activity cards
  • Creation activity cards
  • Journal
  • Feathers
  • Thinking putty
  • Jump rope
  • Crochet materials (H/8 crochet hook, 5mm yarn, scissors, stitch counter)
Stress relief backpack materials