In my June blog, I talked about a summer drop-in program pilot occurring in my library, including the successes and the challenges.
Since that article, we have had several more popular and overwhelming programs, including one in which 75 people (!!) came to have Messy Science fun…including slime making.
As you might imagine, this was more than a bit overwhelming, and more than a little pricey. We went though 4 gallons of slime. I had NO idea we’d get so many people, and luckily, I tend to overbuy and had enough. I joke that it’s the same impulse my Italian family has to ensure 3 times the amount of needed food is available at every family get-together.
However, what I wanted to talk about was a comment I fielded the next day when a customer overheard staff talking about the huge turnout—why do libraries bother with slime programs?
The customer wasn’t angry and didn’t really stay long for my response. But why DO we?
Slime is a STEAM activity. When creating slime, students can learn about polymers which, according to Merriam-Webster, are “chemical compound(s) or mixture(s) of compounds…consisting essentially of repeating structural units.” Slime recipes are also examples of non-Newtonian fluids, meaning that its viscosity is affected when stress is applied to it. So, slime flows through fingers, but feels like a solid when squeezed. And students learn all this by having fun.
Libraries have adopted STEAM programming because we are filling a much-needed niche. In today’s schools’ testing, testing, testing environment, libraries can offer our young customers the opportunity to conduct hands-on experiments and to take the time to inquire and try new things. Slime-making fits that goal too—how does changing the “recipe” change the slime?
Finally, at my library we look to the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets Framework when planning our programs. Library programs like slime which are incredibly popular allow students to constructively use their free time outside of school. It also allows them to develop their commitment to learning and working with others lets young people develop their social competencies. I’m sure one can connect even more to slime and other STEAM activities.
So continue being creative in your programming. Your ideas have a place in the library!
This post covers the Core Competency of Programming Skills.