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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, plastic containers, solo cups, and duct tape. Chris Connors, our Resident Maker, said it was hard finding plastic propellers so he made them out of Popsicle sticks that he dremmeled a hole into that fit the DC motors.  What to do about the design of the propellers since the sticks are flat? Nothing a little hot glue on the top left side and the back right side wouldn't fix. This mimics the slant design of a propeller.

We showed a few examples of boat construction and off they went. A kiddie pool full of water and rubber ducky passengers were suggested for testing during the process.  This was true tinkering for us and the kids as we troubleshooted the dc motors even before the program.  The DC motors come with wires that need to be stripped and connected to the battery packs. The wires need to be twisted to ensure connectivity (which is harder than it sounds) so we decided to solder the wires onto paper clips for easy connecting.

I was reticent about immersing electronics in water but Chris told us it was OK as long as the battery packs stayed dry (salt water is the type to watch out for).  By the end of the hour, we had a few students that would have to take the boats home to finish.  It's a good lesson to learn that it's OK not to be completely finished by the end of the program.  Perhaps some programs need to be left unfinished to ensure kids will continue tinkering and learning at home? It's about the journey, not the destination sort of speak.

On Wednesday Laura from the Mass Audobon brought a beach themed touch table with many living specimens of crabs right from Duxbury Beach. She also told stories, shared the science of local wildlife with fine motor activities and everyone made a craft.

This week was full of very successful themed programs that spanned all ages and 2 library departments with community collaboration.  A librarian's dream come true!


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