TW: eclipse glasses If you were working in an American public library* in August of 2017, you likely remember the solar eclipse of August 2017. The five-year anniversary of the 2017 eclipse just passed us, so let’s take a moment to reflect and debrief. After all, another solar eclipse is coming in 2024.
I love doing STEAM programs, but I have never been a science person. Don’t get me wrong – I like certain elements of science. But like anyone, I have my strengths and my weaknesses, and explaining elementary level physics or chemistry is definitely not a strength of mine. I’m also not a great instruction follower, and science experiments often have very specific instructions. Paper circuits? I have no idea why the battery only works one way despite having read an explanation approximately one thousand times. Growing crystals? I’m too impatient for that kind of work. Simple machines? To me, they are Deeply Complicated machines. There are many places online to find great STEAM projects planned by experts, but if you’d like some so-simple-they-cannot-go-wrong STEAM projects, I’m here for you.
Summer slide. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but it is still a thing. Ideally, addressing summer slide should be a part of your annual goals or tasks, much like summer reading or Banned Books Week. Even more ideal, if there is such a thing, is partnering with schools and other local agencies. First, though, as my old college professor used to say, we can’t discuss a topic without defining it first. So, here we go. What is summer slide and why should I care? Summer slide, and I think Colorado Dept of Education puts it best is: (T)he tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of theachievement gains they made during the previous school year. Why you should care Summer slide can affect almost any child. However, the children it impacts the most are the most socioeconomically disadvantaged. Here’s a thousand words…
I’ve been offering preschool outreach for 14 of the almost 15 years that I’ve worked in the library field. For the last few years, I’ve appreciated the challenge of reimagining what preschool outreach could look like. Although I still provide traditional storytimes, the different approaches I added have reinvigorated me and captivated the preschoolers I serve.
With this post and around $20-$50, you can take a super simple art activity to any outreach location. Supplies: Dot markers/bingo daubers Stencils (optional) Markers (optional) Paper Set up: Similar to Art Links, Squart, Art on the Spot, and Cotton Swab Pointillism, this is a perfect outreach activity. Throw your supplies into a small tote and off you go. Find a table somewhere (park, school, etc.), set out your supplies, and make a few samples. We love to take this one out on the ArtCart with a tray for the stencils & markers. Program prep: Just gather your supplies. Go and make some dots!
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.
Many of my homeschool programs focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts. But I truly love art! So I’m grateful when I come across an artist who so intrigues me that I’m able to focus on another important acronym: STEAM. Aminah Robinson was just such an artist. When I discovered her art on the Columbus Museum of Art’s website, I knew I had a unique and wonderful homeschool art program just waiting to be shared.
Earth Day is April 22nd this year. However, I want to point out that April is also National Humor Month. I am making a large sacrifice here to bring you a post about introducing your youngest library patrons to citizen science instead of something rib tickling, side splitting or otherwise thigh slap worthy. So, here we go. No funny stuff. And just as an aside, please slap only your own thighs as to do otherwise is considered harassment and is actually frowned upon in many workplaces. A Trilogy of Cunning Plans For your consideration, three cunning plans to expose yourself and small children to STEM this Earth Day: Citizen Science, STARnet’s STEAM initiative, SciStarter, and Seed Libraries. For those of you counting along at home, that makes four (4), making this a poorly named overview of what’s to come. Actually, I think there’s five…oh, well. Citizen Science So, what exactly…