Blogger Amy Steinbauer

Hidden Figures Trading Cards

This post is in honor of my colleague, Julia Pflager, who created an amazing passive/self-directed program that should be shared with all.

Julie and I used to work together, and one of our favorite things to do was to plan bimonthly big programs where we would decorate the children’s room with larger than life items and self-directed activities and programs that featured different programming themes. It was so much fun!

Nowadays, I have moved on to management, so I have to live through her amazing creations, and this month she took her plans to a whole new level that must be shared. For this post, I will share an interview with her below.

Amy: Tell me about your project and where you got your ideas.

Julie: This month’s theme is Space, but it is also Black History Month, so I wanted to find some way of incorporating both ideas. We are taking a temporary pause on in-person programming, but we get a lot of children in the library, so I wanted to find some way to offer something.

I got the idea for trading cards because my nephew plays Pokemom and had often seen the cards and knew kids loved to collect things. I knew that I wanted to use the Hidden Figures mathematicians because they feature women in STEM, and their work in contributing ground breaking science to NASA. I created the cards in Canva and printed out on to cardstock. For the activities, I used the women as inspiration and made some computational thinking games for patrons to play to win the trading cards.

How does the program work?

There are three activities spread out through the room, using bookshelf ends or wall space. I wanted to think of computational thinking (CT) activities since the Hidden Figures women were all mathmaticians and CT is really popular right now for parents and libraries. I consulted with other librarians and library staff to come up with the ideas, including a few who have lead CT programs in my system. I also wanted to look for a variety of activities that could be done with various age groups and asked for different things from the kids and not just all writing.

Grouping activity
Dance card activity
Process activity with book display
Process example activity of making coffee

The 3 activities are:

  • Grouping or Pattern Recognition (CT): Asking kids and caregivers to group similar things. I printed and cut out some space images, and velcroed their backs. Then I created 3 grouping spaces so patrons could group the picture tiles together. I wrote out some suggestions to help start the activity.
  • Dance Card or Decomposition (CT): Kids can use arrows, circles, and Xs to break their dances down into steps. They can write down their moves on their dance cards.
  • Process or Algorithm (CT): Asks kids to think of something they do and break it into 4 steps. They can write or draw their activity. I used making coffee as the example because it is something that I love to do and can easily demonstrate the activity.

When kids complete each activity, they get a trading card. If they complete all 3 activities, they get 3 extra bonus cards of people we thought were following in the footsteps of the Hidden Figures women.

What made you decide to make these trading cards?

I wanted to do something different. I liked the idea of a game feeling for this work, kids can challenge themselves to collect all of the cards.

What has been the reaction thus far?

We are seeing a lot of fun engagement! Caregivers are happy to engage with the activities with their kids and share information about the history and the activities.The kids love it, and we see a lot of adults and kids having good interactions. The process one in particular has been useful for engagement and thinking of how kids get ready for school. One adult said she liked my coffee process. One kid loved the grouping game because they loved sorting things into groups.

Is there anything you would do to change or expand this is in the future?

Yes, if we were able to do this again, I think there are lots of fun ways to transform this work with in-person programming. There are lots of fun ways to expand this with more hands on things to do. I think it would be great with larger groups, like maybe a class visit. We had a lot of other ideas, but they all didn’t work in the self-directed way.

Thanks, Julie for sharing your wonderful work with us!

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