Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Low Tech Makerspace

Do you suffer from Makerspace envy? I do. I wish I had the dedicated space, materials and personnel that some of my more lucky library and school friends do. At my last school, they had a dedicated shop with a flank of 3-D printers, CNC machines, fabrication tools and a dedicated lab director. Sigh. As much as I wished to duplicate that for my public library patrons, like most of us, I didn’t have the space OR the money. But I still wanted my patrons to have the benefits that a good makerspace program can provide. So, I went on to do what we youth librarians have been doing for decades – I created the programming on the cheap. And by cheap – I mean price, not experience! After all, the concepts behind the makerspace movement don’t rely on money. They are based on constructive learning theory – we learn…

Blogger Kary Henry

Creative Clubhouse

When I started a new program two years ago, I knew I wanted to combine books, crafts, and a sense of wonder for the world around us. Thus, Creative Clubhouse was born. Truth be told, I think I enjoy it as much as the kids! Program Plan Creative Clubhouse participants are in Kindergarten through second grade. During each session of the six week program, I read a book to the group, we take time to delight in and wonder about something, and then we get creative! The students are used to this routine: reading, discussing, creating. We don’t take a long time to discuss, but it’s a really powerful part of the program. Often I’ll use the Smithsonian Institution’s Learning Lab to curate collections. Looking at the art or other items in a particular collection, I’ll ask the students to use Project Zero’s thinking routine: See, Think, Wonder. What do…

Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Creating and Implementing STEAM for Homeschoolers

According to NHERI, the National Home Education Research Institute, there were 3.7 million homeschooled American children in the 2020-21 school year. The number of parents opting to teach their children at home spiked during the pandemic and although it has since come down, it is still significantly higher than pre-COVID predictions. Homeschoolers are traditionally big library fans because libraries offer access to free materials to support their lessons. But we can offer so much more: we can bring them STEAM! More specifically, we can offer homeschoolers STEAM programs that are often beyond the abilities of their parents or other informal teachers. Let’s take a look at how we can leverage library resources and staff to bring the less accessible parts of STEAM – technology and engineering – to the homeschoolers in our communities. Step 1: Program Planning When designing a homeschool STEAM program, one thing to keep in mind is…

Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Wanted – Citizen Scientists!

We are born scientists.  Babyhood is one big science experiment after another. We test the limits of gravity (oopsy!), we identify and classify (a skunk is NOT a kitty) and we are constantly performing experiments (water plus dirt equals MUD!). Humankind is where we are because of the myriads of creatures before us that explored our surroundings and drove our knowledge forward.  After all, there could be no trip to Mars without discovering fire first! With all the STEAM push, you could be excused for thinking that learning about science is what all the kids want – but let’s be honest, learning how to Do science would be a much better way of getting kids on board. And what better way to learn about science than by doing science and collecting data that actually makes a real world difference! Scientist as a full time occupation is a fairly new concept….

Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Computational Thinking, Preschoolers, and Work It Out Wombats

Children’s librarians play an important role in encouraging early literacy through instruction and modeling. But we can go beyond reading literacy and introduce early learners to 21st century competencies that will help them navigate their connected world. One key competency is Computational Thinking (CT). CT is a way to break problems down into parts in order to find a repeatable solution. Although CT as a process can be applied to coding, it also works in other situations. It’s easiest to think of it as a tool for solving problems.  Typically, it’s defined as four processes, as Kaitlen Siu shared in the 2022 Teach Your Kids to Code article What is Computational Thinking:  Making the Connection, a July 2020 article in Public Libraries magazine, shares that by incorporating CT skills in our work with young children, we can support “twenty-first-century competencies of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication for the young…

Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Celebrating Diwali with a STEAM Activity: Fostering Cultural Competency in Libraries

A photograph of the diya card fully decorated and with the LED lit.

As librarians, we strive to create inclusive spaces that celebrate diversity and promote cultural understanding. Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Typically lasting for five days, it is observed by Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and some Buddhist communities. Diwali is a time of joy, gratitude, and hope for millions of people. Embracing this multicultural event enhances our understanding of different traditions and creates a welcoming environment for families that celebrate Diwali. A fun and easy Diwali STEAM activity that you can do at your library is to create a paper circuit diya card. A diya is an oil lamp that is lit during the holiday to symbolize the triumph of good and light over evil and darkness.

Guest Blogger

From Frustrated to Delighted: Analog and STEM programming

old fashioned postcards scattered across the image. A postcard of the Empire State Building and a postcard of the Statue of Liberty are included. Used for STEM programming.

In 2015, I was working as a Children’s Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania). I had to produce and present a summer reading program with iPads for school age kids. This was part of a pilot program that summer to introduce children, especially inner city children, to iPads as a way to decrease the digital divide. STEM programming on an iPad? I had no idea what to do. I didn’t even own a smart phone!