Saturday mornings in our small town are not the busiest time at the LP Fisher Public Library, especially in the summer. People have either gone to the lake, are working in their gardens, or are at the farmers market. We are situated in a fairly rural area and agriculture (both marget garden and industrial) makes up a fair bit of our economy. So in 2018, we decided to try going to where the farmers and shoppers are — the market.
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Makerspaces foster creativity and encourage out-of-the-box thinking, but they often require physical space that a library doesn't have. But even if your library doesn't have a dedicated makerspace, you can still incorporate maker elements into your day. Our school library transforms our lunch period into maker time with STEAM activities such as our Mystery Maker Challenge.
Something we notice a lot here at the LP Fisher Public Library (and you probably do, too) is that when many of our young patrons get their first library card they have a difficult time signing the back. And we're not just talking preschoolers who are still learning to form letters — we're talking preteens and teenagers. Sometimes even adults.
Provide a half-day STEM camp where the kids really get involved and inspired.
Using STEM learning tools you already have, you can go deeper into a subject to reinforce knowledge that the students may have already been introduced to. Campers will have time to think about their tasks and fire up their minds and imaginations.
The Librarygame project teaches fifth graders the concepts of storytelling, technology and project management through the creation of video games. The program is a collaboration between Sacramento Public Library and local Title I schools, many of which lack the funds to hold this type of program without a partner.
The Highland Park Public Library envisioned forming one robotics team that would meet weekly to participate in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). FLL is a robotics program that gives elementary and middle-school students the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem using robots and research.
In September 2016, our library learned that Laurens County would be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and that a program from the Space Science Institute (SSI) and NASA was offering free eclipse glasses for libraries to distribute to their patrons. Our director thought it might be good to plan an event, especially since we have plenty of parking and a large lawn.
Science in St. Louis is an ongoing program series held at St. Louis County Library (SLCL). This program features local scientists and their research projects. While many of the topics discussed can be quite complex, the goal of this program is to present science in a fun and informal manner that encourages children and adults to become interested in science.
Since starting in 2015, there have been 16 programs with an average of 82 attendees per program. Topics have included Missouri’s Ozark dinosaurs, forensics at the St. Louis County Crime Lab, and 3D printing in medicine.
Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) is a weekly STEM workshop series for teenage girls offered at five of our library system’s locations during the month of June. Participants get to meet influential women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, learn about STEM opportunities and get hands-on experience with STEM technologies.
Each two-hour session consists of a presentation from a female professional in a STEM field, followed by a one-hour activity that explores and builds STEM skills among the participants.
Build a Better World with Magna-Tiles was one session of our STEAM and community engagement-focused summer reading program. This session used Magna-Tiles (clear plastic 2-D geometric shapes that are lined with magnets and can be combined to create 2- and 3-D designs) in a hands-on, student-led program.
At Skokie Public Library, we recently spent four months exploring different aspects of what it means to be human, as a host site of ALA's Exploring Human Origins exhibition. In one of our upper-elementary science programs, we focused specifically on the human brain and its memory capabilities. The program was literally sugar-coated, as you’ll see below.
The Oceanside Library Science Café is a monthly series in which a scientist presents informally on a current science topic for approximately 10 minutes, followed by discussion and questions from patrons. We use the format created by NOVA, which focuses on presenting science topics in a relatable and engaging way, and in an informal setting. (We also serve coffee and really good cookies.) No PowerPoint or other formal presentation materials are used.
Art Lab is a recurring program focusing on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), with a focus on art. It is held at 7 p.m. every Monday. The first and third Mondays of the month are planned lessons, and the second and fourth Mondays are open draw sessions for students to relax and meet other artists.
The information below focuses on the Art Lab lesson: Electric Painting, in which the students made an interactive sound device using paint.
Question: When do you go “un-tech” when you want to go high-tech?
Answer: When you’re creating a coding program for kids.
That was the strategy Assistant Branch Manager Claire Rust applied when she designed the Beginning Coding Concepts program for kids at the Mid-Continent Public Library Blue Springs South Branch. Instead of building the program around computers, Rust opted for manipulatives and tabletop games to introduce the concepts behind computer program coding.
This summer the Skokie Public Library offered a drop-in program entitled Meet at the Lodge every weekday for youth entering grades 3 through 5. Meet at the Lodge was timed to be in conjunction with the free summer lunch program we offer through the federally funded summer lunch program; our goal was to offer a convenient and free opportunity for kids to have a mini-camp experience from 12 to 2:30 p.m. every day (lunch lasted 60 minutes, Meet at the Lodge lasted 90).