Monday, August 10, 2015

Mad Science Mondays come to a close

Another round of weekly summer Mad Science Mondays comes to a close. These were drop in science & art based programs for grades K and up with an adult taking place in the children's room for a 2 hour drop in. We did this for the first time last summer. It was so successful we decided to do it again. Our schedule was as follows: (keeping in mind Superheroes as our summer reading theme)

Superhero Gadgets-Use littleBits to make your own gadgets for your hero tool belt
Superhero Lairs- Make your own secret hideout
Superhero Traps-Make Rube Goldberg inspired designs to capture your enemies
Superhero Minions- Build and program your own Lego robot to do your bidding

We were fortunate enough to get a donation of refrigerator boxes from a local appliance store to help us with lairs (think about where you can store these before the program. In our case we had a delivery of boxes two months before and things got tight!).  If lairs would be too big to store, I suggest making superhero cars out of smaller boxes. We had a superhero drive in as another separate program and the kids loved it. I had the custodial staff save all the big paper towel boxes and they were a good fit.  I pre-cut windshields and doors with an exacto blade and left the decorations up to them. Once construction was over, we watched 2 Pixar shorts: Mike's Car (Monster's Inc.) and Jack Jack Attack (from The Incredibles).  The small size of the cardboard cars also fit in most of the parents cars afterward for take home!
One reflective thought after the series was Superhero Minions was during the same week as the Minion movie release. Some of the parents thought that we were actually making Minions based on the movie. The program turnout for this was the biggest Monday I had and I'm wondering if the word "Minion" drew them in.  Do librarians go through all this effort to think up catchy titles and end up confusing or alluring our patrons (it worked out in this instance)? It is a constant debate for me.
These Monday programs required a bit of prep work for example collecting cardboard and recyclables, making sure all littleBits or Legos are in the right boxes, testing the batteries, double checking flash is up to date on the computers, etc but well worth it.  I ran the programs mostly hands off explaining what their challenge was for that Monday and showing them the cart of supplies and an example. The exception was Lego Robotics which required some troubleshooting once they began programming in the WeDo software. WeDo software comes with guided instructions on a few different robots but leaves the programming part to less guided experimentation. My one concern in something like Lego Robotics as a drop in is when everyone isn't working on the same construction it is very hard to see where things went wrong in the design. WeDo is recommended for ages 8 and up but I was surprised to see many 5 year olds (with the help of a parent) succeeding in their constructions. It was a great day to be a librarian when I saw how proud they were as soon as their parent's camera phones came out.




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