Blogger Dan Bostrom

Launch into STEM Programming with LPI!

Interested in providing more hands on STEM programs in your library but need ideas on how to start? ALSC has partnered with the Lunar Planetary Institute (LPI) to help you with just that!

Learning STEM activities
Participants learn hands on STEM activities at an Explore training to share at home (photo courtesy of LPI)
The Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Explore program invites librarians to open doors to the universe to children — no prior experience in science is required! Explore provides step-by-step instructions for a selection of hands-on activities, as well as facilitator background information, correlating National Science Education Standards, and lists of related books, websites, handouts, and other resources. LPI also hosts free workshops and webinars across the country to help you bring hands on STEM programming into your library. Check out how these three Youth Service Librarians have launched into STEM programming with help from LPI!

Wini Ashooh, Youth Services Librarian at Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Porter Branch in Virginia, attended the Jupiter’s Family Secrets Workshop in Pennsylvania.

The LPI workshop provided me with the training I needed to present fun and appealing science programs to children. The activities that were presented were hands on and taught children information about the planets and our solar system. All these activities used everyday materials that are readily available and quite inexpensive.

Upon my return to my library system following the workshop a colleague and I created two bins that contained the materials necessary to conduct these activities. These bins circulate throughout my library system so that various staff members can use them to present the STEM activities introduced at the workshop to children at various programs. I created links on Google Drive so that everyone in my system would have access to the directions and supporting information related to these activities.

One great aspect about this workshop is that the instructors prepare the attendees with so much knowledge and access to information that it is possible to tailor the activities to individual systems. None of us have the same setting or circumstances. This program allows each librarian to create what works for them. Rest assured you do not need to be a scientist or a science teacher in order to present these activities. The workshops will prepare you with the information you need to conduct a successful program.

Cory Eckert, Youth Services Manager at Octavia Fellin Public Library in New Mexico, attended NASA’s It’s a New Moon Training in Virginia.

We did a number of hands-on activities designed to teach lunar science to kids, targeted at elementary and middle school aged children. We made the Earth and Moon’s crusts out of candy, threw basalt rocks at graham crackers to show how lunar dust is formed, mimicked cratering by throwing bouncy balls at layers of oatmeal, flour, and cocoa, set off bottle rockets, threw water balloons at concrete to see splatter patterns and more. The highlight of the training was probably designing and building a lunar orbiter or rover to fit a scientific question we wanted answered. The activity required teamwork, creativity, critical thinking and engineering.
While we have not incorporated any of the activities into our weekly Weird Science Club yet, we plan to do so for next summer’s Summer Reading theme, Fizz, Boom, Read. We also plan to host a Night At the Planetarium at the library, with a variety of activity stations as well as the lunar rocks and telescopes.

Library STEM
Exploring more STEM activities for the library (photo courtesy of LPI)

Sara Collins, Head of Youth Services at Manchester Public Library in Massachusetts, attended the Explore: To the Moon and Back workshops in Boston and a Polar Ice webinar.

During the workshop I was able to visit a lab at BU where a professor and student shared models of one aspect of the LRO (a robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the moon) which had come from their lab. This was fascinating and it really struck home here, as well as in other talks during the training, that the children in elementary, middle, and high school now would be the scientists who might work on some of the return trips to space. This was really exciting to me and when I shared it with students in my classes at the library; I could see this was exciting to them, as well.

I have been able to hold programs with several stations from the Explore Moon Handbook and the Ice series of activities. Incorporating books of the field, using visual displays, hands on activities, and having science at a range of levels, these programs are often tailored for ages 7-10. There are ways of making a project/experiment from these be a part of another program too. This summer with the National Summer Reading theme of Dig into Reading, my volcano event included facts of earth and space volcanoes and led to a hands on building of clay land forms, measuring eruption flow and subsequent eruptions, and studying trends with this. This was all from the Explore Moon unit.

Our library also participates annually in International Observe the Moon Night, InOMN, this is one of the highlights of the year for families, adults, and children. Each year we use our Astro binoculars from NASA, and many telescopes from the public, to host a night when the casual viewer stops by and spends 10 minutes or the eager student spends an hour or more viewing with these scopes. We have garnered the attention of those walking by the library and many who put it on their calendar. Participation in Explore: The Moon led me to look for space for SPACE! at our library.

We hope you will explore the free resources that LPI has available and consider attending one of their workshops or webinars!

One comment

  1. Keliann LaConte

    LPI invites you to check out the archived online trainings from the past year and try out some of the activities.

    “Engaging Children, Youth, and Families in Engineering through Playful Building”
    Recorded March 8, 2013

    “Providing Children with a Global Perspective through Hands-on Earth Science Activities”
    Recorded April 25, 2013
    (Discover Earth activities for ages 5-9)

    “Earth Science through Food, Games, and Art: Library Programming Ideas for Tweens and Teens”
    Recorded May 7, 2013
    (Discover Earth activities for ages 10-18)

    Hands-on NASA Activities to Bring the Moon’s Life Story to Children Ages 8—13, recorded on July 31, 2013

    Hands-on NASA Activities to Celebrate Our Personal, Cultural, and Scientific Connections to the Moon!, recorded on August 16, 2013

    Your feedback is always welcome — please contact us through our website!

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