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Showing posts from July, 2014

What Does STEM Look Like in the Children's Room? Week 4

This week was beach week. We headed down to Duxbury Beach on Monday night and held a Mad Scientist Sand Sculpting Event. It was open to all ages without any prizes or contest pressure. The sand sculpture event has been a staple of the summer reading program for many years. Beach sculpting is an art and science of its own. One thing we had to think about was when the tides come in and out. It just took a quick call to the Harbor master to schedule. Holding library events off site is a great opportunity to meet and greet new people. Some families joined into the event just because they happened to be at the beach that night. I loved that the sand sculptures all had their own stories, a wonderful literacy component. This one picture above was a favorite of mine, complete with a light house and guard house.

For our weekly Backyard Ballistics on Tuesday, we built boats with DC motors, AA Battery packs, and popsicle sticks. We left out a wide variety of floating materials such as foam, pla…

What Does STEM look like in the Children's Room Week 3

This week we had perfect weather for some outdoor science activities!
Our Mad Scientist Mondays included outdoor stomp rockets.  They are very easy once you get the launchers made (which we did with teens in a separate program). We used PVC pipe, a piece of wood for stabilizing, rubber tubing, and some PVC brackets.  You can also make it entirely out of PVC. Once the launchers are complete, you need 2 liter soda bottles, tape, and paper for rockets to complete the experiment. Discarded magazines and scrap paper come in handy.

The most important thing is to leave out a PVC pipe of the same size so kids can measure the width of the pipe. The rocket needs to loosely fit on the launcher. We used this template and edited it to fit our pipes. It is also imperative that there are no air leaks in the rocket so use lots of tape when assembling. What was interesting to note is that our 99 cent generic soda bottles broke only after a few jumps while Sprite bottles held up for 2 hours of continu…

What Does STEM Look Like in the Children's Room this Summer? Week 2

Our Mad Scientist Monday for this week was dedicated to cartoonist and "inventor", Rube Goldberg. I just learned that he did not actually create these machines but rather drew these silly contraptions only on paper. What an influence he has had! There's a challenge devoted to him every year hosted by high schools and colleges all over the county. You can sponsor your own teen team at your library or encourage them to apply to the international online contest. Each year has a goal such as apply toothpaste to a toothbrush and the kids are invited to make their own contraptions to accomplish the goal. Having an open experimental day like ours would be a great introduction to forming your team.

Set up:  Thanks to our iPads we featured a video with 75 Rube Goldberg Ideas to explain our vision. We also downloaded the official game, Rubeworks app ($2.99 for the iPad).  Each level features an animated cartoon Rube Goldberg challenge like squeeze an orange for orange juice with su…

We're a Makercamp!

We signed up to be a Makercamp site, sponsored by Google + and Make magazine, who gave us a box of goodies ("swag") in exchange for hosting STEM programming to the public. We now have a plethora of DIY/Maker books, a Makey Makey, an Arduino and breadboard, and a grab bag full of electronic goodies like LEDS, Batteries and 2 soldering irons! FOR FREE. I really hope this continues next year because YA librarians would love this.We were already doing science programming this summer for our theme so this fits in nicely.

Each week of Makercamp is themed and can be done entirely online for FREE through Google +, YouTube videos, and links to daily projects. Since you need to be over 13 to have a Google + account some of the projects may need adult supervision and their recommended age is 10-18. They do suggest asking younger family members to ask their parents to log in with their Google + accounts. Every Friday is a virtual field trip with famous celebrities or highlighting new G…

Is fear constraining our language and activities?

As we prepared for the "Fizz, Boom, Read" Maker-style national summer reading program, we received reactions that we found surprising and a bit disturbing. When advertising our weekly Middle School hands on program, Backyard Ballistics (limited to air and water propulsion - no, we decided gun powder was off limits), we advertised on our teen web page and in the local newspaper: "Making stuff that moves, propels, explodes, and causes other stuff to happen." Teens and their parents quickly signed up and we currently have a waiting list. Our first activity was Stomp Rockets and we played a bit with rocket design to see what shape would travel the furthest.

An older couple read the newspaper blurb and asked to speak to the director. She found out that, although they were completely clear that our intentions were benign, they felt others might think that we were promoting terrorism and bomb-making. Hm.

Over the winter our resident knitters did a program called "…

What Does STEM Look Like in the Children's Room this Summer? Week 1

In honor of our science theme this summer, we hold Mad Science Mondays here in the children's room on Mondays from 2-5pm.  This is very similar to our Makerspace Mondays held last summer with an additional preschool "science" lab, where our program room is transformed into a separate science lab for the younger set to explore with their parents. This is a drop in program that we provide with the emphasis that we will provide the materials but the parents/family members must work together to complete the weekly science projects with little supervision from the librarians on the desk.

Our first week's focus was on building. In the main room for Gr. K and up we hosted building challenges.

Challenge #1: Building the tallest structure you could out of paper and solo cups.  We bought this great tape that sticks to the wall with inch measurements on it so kids could record how high their structure was but we had no idea one would almost touch the ceiling. What a cheap scien…