STEM/STEAM

Cheap and Easy STEM Programs

It’s no secret that I love doing STEM programs. They’re educational, a bit chaotic, and fun. If you fear facilitating STEM programs, consider this: remember when science was awesome? Before it got all difficult and filled with math that still gives you (read: me) panic attacks? When you’re a kid, everything is new and super cool because you’re learning how the world works. Frankly, sometimes science seems like magic–only better because it’s real. So, you can take that natural curiosity of theirs and use it to explore science alongside them. You don’t need to be an expert; just admit you don’t know something and learn with them as you go. Ahem. Pardon my science-y soap boxing. This month, I’m sharing my Top 5 Inexpensive STEM Programs: Catapults. In my program, 4th-6th graders learned a bit about physics, watched educational videos about how medieval “siege engines” worked, and built two types…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Eclipse Madness : Zombies Might be Easier

In case you are one of the 18 people who  haven’t yet heard the news: there’s going to be a total solar eclipse on August 21st, that will cross the United States. Media coverage of this rare occurrence  is exploding. It’s exciting to have such an enthusiastic response from the public.  It’s also a little intimidating.     Along with 4799 other public libraries, my library was lucky enough to be selected for the eclipse viewing glasses grant. The 2017 Solar Eclipse project is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF5373 to the Space Science Institute.  When I applied months ago, barely anyone had heard about the event. It hardly made a ripple in the programming pond.  Some of my colleagues questioned why we would need so many pairs of the glasses. I strenuously asserted that, yes, we would need every single pair. It turns out…

apps

Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites

Autumn has arrived here in Northeastern Ohio, bringing with it crisp weather, all things pumpkin, and beautiful fall foliage. The trees are only starting to reveal their brilliant hues of orange, yellow, gold and red here, but soon I’ll awaken to a glowing landscape that seemingly exploded overnight. As this season traditionally brings many requests for fall themed library materials, as well as special fall programming, I was inspired to think of ways that technology may add further enjoyment and educational opportunities to this time. The best way to experience the beauty of fall is to strap on your hiking shoes and venture to the nearest wooded park (or your backyard!). Bringing along your smartphone or tablet, loaded with fall foliage apps, can enhance your exploration of autumn’s beauty. Children of a variety of ages will enjoy learning more about our natural environment with these  apps and websites highlighted below,…

Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Camps: The New Trend in Summer Reading

This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community.  According to the Girl Scout Research Institute,  “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”[1] We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater…

Blogger Amy Koester

The Science of Slimy Things

A few months ago, one of my frequent program-goers made a request: Would I please be able to offer a program that includes slugs, one of his favorite animals? I was inclined to agree to the challenge, even before said child had his mother email me a photo of him with his three pet slugs. How’s a librarian to say “no” to that? I gave some thought to how I could meet the “slug” challenge while also closing out a season of many science-themed programs. I decided to return to a favorite concept with school-agers–slime–and explore it from two different perspectives: animal biology and physics. Thus “The Science of Slimy Things” was born. The program was divided roughly into two parts, the first considerably less messy than the second. We opened with an exploration of slugs–pictures, how they move, their scientific names, how they differ from snails, and the purpose…

Books

Science Literacy Moments #alsc14

“Pretend the window is a screen,” said poet Susan Blackaby at this morning’s #alsc14 session “The Poetry of Science.” People spend so much time with their eyes glued to their electronic devices that they’re liable to miss what’s going on in their environment. Imagine if people gave as much concentration to nature as they give to their computer screens. How many hawks would they see? What other wonders would they encounter? Author Margarita Engle joined today’s panel, discussing how she uses both poetry and her science background to advocate for animal and environment conservation. As a child, Engle said, “No curiosity was too small for concentration.” She made the point that the phrase “the spirit of wonder” is applicable to both science and poetry. Because of this commonality, it’s possible to interest poetry loving kids in science phenomena and give science fans the chance to experiment with language. Poet Janet…

Institute 2014

The Science of Poetry @ #ALSC14

I love science, and I love poetry, so attending this session was a slam-dunk decision for me! This program was hosted by Sylvia Vardell and featured the poets Alma Flor Ada, Susan Blackaby, F. Isabel Campoy, & Janet Wong Sylvia Vardell started us off by reading a poem call ed “Recycling” by Susan Blackaby, then walked us through the steps of “Take 5 with Poetry & Science:” 1. Read the poem aloud 2. Read again, inviting kids to participate in the reading 3. Discuss and research the poem and its topic 4. Connect the poem to a specific science topic with a demonstration or hands-on activity 5. Share more, related poems & other readings Susan Blackaby shared some of her lovely poems and discussed the connections and similarities between poetry and science. Both science and poetry require precision, careful use of language, trying and trying again, and making revisions. Both use…

Blogger Amy Koester

Excellent Explosions! Chemical Reactions for Preschoolers

Mine is one of the myriad libraries celebrating science this summer through our “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program. Much to the delight of my STEAM-loving heart, all branches across my library system have hosted a ton of science programs this summer for every age. Some were led by outside groups like the St. Louis Science Center (always tap your local STEM resources!), and others have been led by in-house staff. They’ve all been a huge hit with kids and their families. One of my most successful in-house preschool programs this summer was a recent program titled “Excellent Explosions.” Here’s what we did. Excellent Explosions: A Preschool Science Program While I did have plenty of materials on hand for attendees to check out, this wasn’t a storytime program, per se. That is, I didn’t share a book at the beginning of the program as I usually do in my Preschool Science programs….