Guest Blogger

Including STEAM in Summer Library Programs

My library is using the iRead theme this year which is Read Beyond the Beaten Path. We want to include STEAM activities into our summer library program and decided to bring back something the library did before my time called “Creation Stations”. These are passive activities that can be done at each of our locations with a new activity every week. A few of the Creation Stations I have planned this year are yarn art, pipe cleaner constellations, straw rockets, build a tent, and leaf renderings. About half of the stations are science, math, and engineering based, and the other half are art based. I want to share one example of how I planned a creation station, how much prep went into it, and how we plan on executing it at our library.

I found almost all of the ideas on Pinterest which is my favorite way to get new ideas for my library! There was also a post on the ALSC blog in 2020 titled Information Literacy in STEAM Programming by the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee. This post gives tips on how to incorporate STEAM programming into your library and also gives a few programming ideas. These are great resources if you are wanting to include STEAM programming and don’t know where to start or just need some new ideas.

One example of a creation station I made is the build a tent activity, which is the most related to our theme reading beyond the beaten path. I saw similar ideas of building structures in various places on Pinterest and I chose tents because it is directly related to our theme. Building a tent involves engineering and art and hits multiple STEAM elements. We also had boxes full of fabric scraps hanging around that we needed to use up and I thought they would be perfect for tent building.

For the tent base, I chose small popsicle sticks instead of toothpicks because I was afraid of kids poking themselves while trying to connect the toothpicks together. I tried to use washi tape to connect the tent pieces because we have tons of washi tape, but the tape was too weak, so I ended up needing to use duct tape. I decided to put washi tape on the table available for them to try so they can discover which type of tape works best for their structure. For the tent fabric, my team and I cut up hundreds of squares from leftover fabric so that the kids can choose whichever fabric design they want. They can further cut the scraps into whatever shape they want for their tents. The engineering of the tent base was much trickier than I anticipated, but it should be a fun challenge for them.

We are estimating about 300 tents being completed throughout the summer in all of our locations. I prepped approximately 900 popsicle sticks, 300 fabric scraps, plenty of duct tape, washi tape, and scissors. I also created trifolds with general instructions for our creation stations and instructions on how to build a tent. This project took around 5-6 hours to plan and prep and I did this for 8 different projects. The execution will be simple, and the setup shown will be kept near the main circulation desk for the children to complete at any time.

Creation stations are fun projects that can foster children’s love of STEAM as well as keep them excited about coming back to the library. They were really popular in past years and I’m hoping they are a hit again this year.

Are you including any STEAM programming into your summer program? What are your ideas?

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger Kirsten Caldwell has master’s degrees in both chemistry and information science with a certificate in youth services. She is a new youth services assistant at a public library and works with ages 0-18, though early literacy is where she wants to specialize. She is passionate about programming and best storytime practices and joined ALSC to meet and learn from other librarians around the country.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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