Tag Archives: STEM

STEAM Programming Resources for Libraries

chemical-laboratory-1063849_1280At 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. Continue reading

Science Resources for Library STEM Programming

summer scienceLast week I covered some resources you could use to find science ideas for your story times. If you are looking for support for STEM programming ideas for your school-age kids, check out these helpful resources. They were both specifically developed for educators who with kids outside of school, so they are perfect for a library environment.

howtosmile is “a collection of the best educational materials on the web, in addition to learning tools and services – all designed especially for those who teach school-aged kids in non-classroom settings.” This site allows you to “search over 3,500 of the very best science and math activities on the web. All activities are available to anyone, free of charge.” For added convenience, you can also “filter by age, material costs, and learning time to find exactly what you need.” There are also curated topic pages if you are looking for themed programs.

Click2Science is “an interactive, professional development site for trainers, coaches, site directors and frontline staff/volunteers working in out-of-school time STEM programs, serving children and youth.” In addition to professional development resources, there are learning modules addressing Planning STEM Learning Experiences, Interacting with Youth during STEM, and Building STEM Skills in Youth. You can register for a free account to connect and interact with others in the online community. Check out the article “20 Skills that Make STEM Click” for a great overview before getting started.

Do you have any excellent sources of STEM activities you rely on for programming? Share your suggestions in the comments!

Science in Story Time

STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) topics for library programming are very popular, but often they focus on school aged children. If you are looking for ways to incorporate science concepts in your programming for younger children, check out the Science in Storytime blog for ideas and themed concepts.

Promoted as “A place to share cool science ideas for storytime!,” Science in Storytime is an effort of the Lincoln City Libraries in Lincoln, Nebraska, to “help to set the “science interest” stage for formal education.” Blog posts feature book suggestions and related science activity ideas appropriate for preschoolers. If you don’t have a particular concept in mind, you can use the categories to browse. If you do have a particular topic in mind, you can use the tags or search box to find specific ideas for your program.

The Lincoln City Libraries developed a logo that they use to indicate when they will be discussing a science concept in story time. The blog also links to Great Science Websites for Kids, which is sponsored by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of ALA. It is a great starting point for even more resources and ideas.

How do you incorporate STEM concepts into story time? Share your ideas in the comments!

Transforming Lives through 3D Printing at the Library

unleash-creativity[1]In September, I attended the NDLA annual conference in Jamestown. One of the sessions I attended was “3D Printing @ Your Library” presented by Greta Guck, the director of the Leach Public Library in Wahpeton. I thought it would be an interesting session, but it turned out to be considerably more inspiring than I expected!

Greta talked about how she was inspired to acquire a 3D printer after hearing Mick Ebeling speak at the ALA 2015 Midwinter conference. The founder of Not Impossible Labs and author of Not Impossible: The Art and the Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done, Mick has used 3D printers to create prosthetic limbs for people in Sudan who have lost their arms due to violence in the area.

After the conference, I did some research and one of the articles I found about “Project Daniel” makes an excellent point: “To many people 3D printing can seem trivial or a bit silly, but for some this technology has the potential to transform lives.” Many people probably do think of 3D printing as something neat and cool, without stopping to think about the life-changing applications of the technology. Continue reading

Acceleration Nation

checkered-flags-309794_640Scholastic and NASCAR have teamed up to provide a STEM education program for elementary and middle school students, with the target ages of 8-12. Acceleration Nation teaches students about the math and science behind NASCAR’s “Three D’s of Speed: Drag, Downforce, and Drafting” and also gives them a behind-the-scenes look at some of the popular drivers in NASCAR and how pivotal science and math are to the sport.
Continue reading

Building Squishy Circuits

Robot wearing sunglasses and holding a ping pong paddle

TOPIO, a ping pong-playing robot, cropped from an image by Humanrobo and used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Squishy Circuits have a little something for everyone–modeling dough, electricity, baking, science, electricity, the playful combination of dough and wire and batteries into cute little puppy dogs with light up noses, and, lest I forget to mention it, electricity.

Squishy circuits are constructed from batches of conductive and insulating dough. This medium provides a fun and accessible way to teach about series and parallel circuits, material properties, the fundamentals of electronics, and the construction of our future robotic overlords.

The concept and curriculum was created at the University of St. Thomas, and you can find all the recipes, instructions, and videos you’ll need to guide you through the process on their site. They also created this excellent classroom guide (PDF).

NASA Wavelength

astronautAre you looking for more ideas for incorporating STEM programming at your library? Check out the resources on the NASA Wavelength site. NASA Wavelength is a collection of regularly updated, peer-reviewed educational resources for use in or out of school with students ages pre-K through college.

You can browse the resources by age of the audience or by topic, and you can refine your searches by type of resource or instructional strategy. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out the sample list of engineering activities for K-5. The nice part about this collection of resources is that it’s not just activity ideas – the science behind the fun is included as well.

Each resource provides an overview of the activity, quickly addressing the important questions in library programming: how long will it take and how much will it cost? The learning times and material costs are hyperlinked, so you can click on them to find other activities of a similar length or expense (though when no cost is listed, there is nothing on which to click).

Scroll down the main page to the NASA Multimedia section for apps, science casts, eclips, and images of the day.

We’ve heard from libraries all over the state that science themed summer reading program was lots of fun for kids and librarians alike. What STEM programming ideas have you continued into the fall at your library?

Global Cardboard Challenge

cardboard boxDo you want to encourage and celebrate creativity amongst the kids in your community? Then take part in this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge! The Global Cardboard Challenge invites kids of all ages to “build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination.”

The Global Cardboard Challenge is hosted annually by the Imagination Foundation, an organization with the goal to “find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine.” Sounds a lot like what libraries hope to do for kids in their communities, right?

The official date of the Cardboard Challenge this year is Saturday, October 11. If you’d like more information on hosting an event, you can register as an event organizer to receive updates. Since it focuses on creativity, this is a pretty flexible event to host. If you’d like to get a better idea of how it might look, check out the photos from events held in 2013. Since the focus is on kids, you may want to include some kids in the planning process!

If you want to extend the celebration of creativity throughout the year, check out the Imagination Chapters. If you’ve been wanting to try a makerspace in your library, this would be a great way to start and encourage community involvement at the same time!

Have you participated in the Cardboard Challenge in the past? Do you plan to participate this year? Share your stories in the comments!

Science Literacy

I see youWhile summer’s not quite over, many summer reading programs will be wrapping up this month. If you’ve had a great time with science experiments this summer, continue the fun the rest of the year with other resources to help you bring science into the library. You can start by checking out the science literacy resources from Reading Rockets.

Reading Rockets is “a national multimedia literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.” The goal is obviously bigger than just science literacy, so be sure to check out the rest of their site as well!

Start with a Book is an initiative of Reading Rockets that “offers parents, caregivers, summer program staff and librarians lots of engaging ideas for getting kids hooked on reading, exploring and learning all summer long — and beyond.” Again, the site has many resources to investigate, but start with their Summer Science themes.

There are downloadable activity packs for the following themes:

  • Bees
  • Flight
  • The Night Sky
  • Think Like an Inventor

There are also tips and related resources for other activities, as well as themed reading adventure packs for many other topics that you can use for library programming all year round, or distribute for parents and children to do together at home.

Of course they have a page with resources specifically for librarians as well!

What are your planning for continuing to offer STEM programming at your library beyond your summer reading program? Do you have other science resources to contribute? Share your ideas in the comments!

Camp Wonderopolis

camp wonderopolisAre you having fun with all the science experiments you’re doing as part of your summer reading program? Are your kids begging for more? Have them check out Camp Wonderopolis! Camp Wonderopolis is an initiative of the National Center for Families Learning, and it is a free online science program for kids. All you need to sign up is an email address!

Camp Wonderopolis officially runs until July 27, but it is self-paced, so you can sign up to participate at any time. After July 27, you can access all the camping materials at http://wonderopolis.org/camp/. Though all ages are welcome to participate in Camp Wonderopolis, it is specifically geared toward kids in grades 2-8, with each activity taking about 15 minutes to complete. If you have other questions, visit the FAQs.

There are six different themed areas of exploration:

  • Amusement Park
  • Observatory
  • Laboratory
  • Dig Site
  • Woods
  • Zoo

There’s also the Wonder Wall, where Campers can post about their projects.

Also be sure to check out the main Wonderopolis site throughout the rest of the year. For inspiration, they have a widget you can install on your site to get a “Wonder of the Day” and remind families to explore together. They also offer educator resources for teachers and librarians.

Has your science-filled summer reading program encouraged families to do more exploring and experimenting together? Do you have programming geared towards families? Share your stories in the comments!