VALPARAISO — Origami, the ancient art of Japanese paper folding, once was considered mostly child’s play – a flapping bird, a fortune teller, a ninja star, said Leslie Cefali, who has taught at Purdue University in Westville.

Teachers may have used it briefly in math class or perhaps had the class fold the traditional crane during a social studies lesson.

In recent years however, origami has taken on a more serious role in the eyes of engineers, scientists and in the fields of advanced technology and medicine, according to Cefali. Origami inspired engineering has been used in NASA space equipment, in the development of better heart stents, and even in micro-biology, with the folding of DNA. In recent years, PBS (Public Broadcast System) has featured two documentaries on the scientific uses of origami.

That’s one of the reason’s why Cefali will be giving a free Powerpoint presentation on recent origami inspired technology and how they are benefiting and improving the lives of people in the community. The presentation is scheduled for Wendesday at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at Valparaiso Public Library. Though older children are welcome, the presentation is geared toward parents, educators and interested adults. This is not an origami folding class.

According to Cefali, Engineering Departments at universities around the world, including MIT, Notre Dame, Purdue University and Harvard have taught origami inspired techniques during the last decade. At an ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering) Design Engineering Conference in 2014, there were 28 presentations on origami. Dr. Mary Frecker of the Department of Engineering at Penn State, stated in 2014 “ ... interest in the field is surging.” (source: “How the Future of Origami is Unfolding” from Live Science, Dec. 13, 2014; author John Varrais, American Society of Mechanical Engineers.)

Cefali teaches origami at many venues and regularly attends national origami conventions each year. She has spent the last 10 years researching the impact of origami in the fields of STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).

The Valparaiso Public Library regularly offers free origami classes for participants in grades 4 though adulthood. These classes meet the secomd and fourth Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. in the meeting room. Classes are free, but space is limited, so registration is highly recommended. A different origami model is taught in each class session. To register for the Powerpoint Presentation (not required) or classes (required), go to and click on the events calendar, or register at the circulation desk. Each session requires a separate registration.

Cefali, B.A., B.S. MEd, has taught at the elementary and university levels, both Valparaiso University and Purdue University in Westville. She is the author of Cook-a Book, a cookbook for children which features foods eaten in children’s literature. She has also written articles for several magazines, including, Instructor, Book Links, and Library Talk. Additionally, has been the keynote speaker at teacher conventions and in-services on children’s literature and writing. In the past 15 years her interest in origami has grown from folding simple models to more complex geometric and mathematical shapes Leslie teaches origami classes to children and adults at many local venues. These include the Valparaiso Public Library, the Chesterton Art Center and an outreach program, though the engineering department at Valparaiso University for girls in elementary school through high school. She continues to research and find new articles on origami inspired technological advances. She can be reached at

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