At the Spring Workshops the State Library hosted in April, Elizabeth Larson-Steckler from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) presented a session on STEAM/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education. She covered ways to integrate literacy into library STEAM programming by using books as a jumping off point for exploration.
DPI defines STEAM education as an integrated and blended curriculum that is driven by creative thinking, problem solving, discovery, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions. Often kids question why they have to learn certain skills because they see no relevance to their lives. STEAM programming helps students make those real life connections.
Elizabeth provided an outline you can use as a template for STEAM programming:
- Identify the problem
- Design a solution
- Get feedback
- Improve the design
- Share your results
Many well-known stories provide problems that are easy to identify and provide fun opportunities for problem-solving. For instance, for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you could design a chair that will hold “Goldilocks,” who would be represented by an object such as a bottle of water. For Humpty Dumpty, students could design an egg protection system, and prove its efficacy by dropping their egg from a certain height. For the story of The Three Little Pigs, students could design buildings that could sustain a breeze, such as that created by a fan. All these examples would use recycled materials to create the structures (such as cardboard, Styrofoam pieces, plastic containers, etc.) and thus be fairly low-cost in terms of materials needed.
Elizabeth shared some useful online resources as well:
- STEM Read – This site lists books by grade level, as well as games, videos, and a wealth of other resources
- Growing with Science – “A place for science and nature exploration,” which offers science activities
- Growing with Science Blog – This site has an archive of experiments, as well as bug of the week and seed of the week features
- Science Books for Kids – “Books for reading about and doing science,” this site has book recommendations for all age groups, themed book lists, and ideas for experiments and hand-on activities
- Connected Science Learning – A collaboration between the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), this site highlights “STEM education experiences that bridge the gap between in-school and out-of-school settings”
The NSTA also publishes a journal called Children and Science, the full-text of which can be accessed via EBSCO’s Science Reference Center.
Just after the Workshops, I learned about the STEM in Libraries blog via Twitter. They have a year’s worth of weekly STEM activities available.
What STEAM programs have you hosted at your library? What are your favorite STEM programming resources? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments!