Tuesday, March 24, 2015

School Age Steam

Our guest today is Kelsey Bates, a Youth Services Librarian in Fort Myers Florida. She shared a program series on STEAM that had kids really excited.

STEAM into Learning - K- 5th graders

3…2…1… Blast Off Into Space
Book talkHow Do You Burp in Space? : and Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan Goodman. Discuss why you would never want to burp in space (spoiler, without gravity it’s just puking).

Video: astronauts sleeping in space from NASA’s website.

  • Create aliens – I designed a sheet where the kids would decide what planet they are visiting (hot, cold, gas, water, etc) and then draw the aliens based on those specifications.
  • Design a satellite – after discussing what satellites do, I had the kids build one out of random craft materials that we had lying around. This station was so popular that I had to remind the kids that they should move on to other activities.
  • Make paper rockets – using paper and straws, the kids created paper rockets that they could launch.
  • Constellation Tubes – using pushpins, the kids punched out holes in a paper depicting a constellation and then placed it on a toilet paper roll. Looking back, I would have donewithout this station because the most effort on the kids’ parts went into for what was very little payoff.

Tech Tear Down
Video:  Bill Nye the Science Guy discussed electrical circuits. We then looked at a quick slide show I made that had pictures of electrical components that we would be seeing.

The children and their parents (it was very focused on parent involvement) then went to the stations where we had everything from a laptop to beepers to VHS tapes. The kids had a great time taking apart each electronic and the parents enjoyed explaining to their kids why anyone would ever need a beeper.

I originally had a lot of push back from my administration about this program as it was deemed “unsafe” which added a lot of time on my part to really research the safety of each item. The kids had an amazing time though and I heard a lot mothers mention that they wish their husbands had come as well, which is always exciting as we don’t get a lot of fathers in our programs.

Engineer an Attack on the Fort!
This was a program that I pulled from the Show Me Librarian, which made it super easy to reproduce although I did switch the focus from the Trojan War to the castles of the Middle Ages.

Book talk:  books in our collection about castles and sieges.

Video: Trebuchet Siege Artillery from the Discovery channel that shows the children what catapults in the Middle Ages really looked like.

Laying out a lot of random craft materials, I had the children build their forts, making sure to discuss the importance of engineering strong walls and foundations. We then built catapults out of rubber bands and popsicle sticks with bottle caps on the end to hold the pom-poms.

The last 10 minutes of the program was the battle where the kids created a circle and started attacking each other. I was actually surprised by how many almost didn’t want to compete because they were afraid that their forts would become destroyed (they seriously overestimated the power of a pom-pom).

This was the program that I had the most trouble finding an educational opening to. There is very few interesting educational videos for children about castles for some reason. The kids did find the Discovery video very engaging though and really loved creating their own (much safer) version of a catapult.

Mad Scientist Artist
This was the program that I was most proud of since I came up with the idea myself: Creating art using Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It was also my most expensive program in the series, using the previous 3 programs’ budgets of $10 plus its own for a total of $40. Also, although I did not book talk any books, I pointed out after each station that there was an entire display of art books to check out.

Science – We started the program outside in our storytime garden (a rare occurrence for our programs) and created exploding rocket art. Using film canisters, paint water and seltzer tabs, the kids popped in a tablet, closed the lid tight and turned it upside down so that when it exploded, it would leave splattered paint behind on the canvas. This was a huge success, even when the rockets didn’t launch.

Technology – This was the most expensive part of the program since I had to buy Dollar Tree electric toothbrushes for every child. They inserted the toothbrush into a decorated pool noodle that had three markers as legs. When the brush was turned on, it would cause the Art Bots to vibrate, creating interesting art work with their markers.

Engineering – This was just a simple sculpture project using marshmallows and toothpicks. I was still really excited to see what interesting things the kids came up with, like a brother duo who created a water pipeline that was a few feet long.

Math – For math, we discussed symmetry and had the children paint only one side of a piece of paper and then fold it in half to create symmetrical artwork.
I think art is always very engaging for children and the parents in the room really like the STEM slant to the program as well.

Game On
The idea for this also originally came from the Show Me Librarian’s Blog to do a life-size version of Chutes and Ladders. I made it my own though, and more math minded, by having the children spend half of the program creating their own game boards.

Chutes and Ladders – A fun game that took about 20 or so minutes to play. Towards the end, I sped it up but overall the kids did an amazing job at waiting their turn and staying engaged.

Game Board – this was my favorite part of the program. I had purchased some Dungeons and Dragons styled dice for the kids so we discussed what different dice would do to the game play (the dice that goes by 10s would need a different board than the regular 1-6 dice). One little girl used her two dice to work on rounding numbers up and down, which was amazing!

This was the only program that I didn’t really push the theme on, as I felt it would be too hard of a sell to get people excited about a Math program. However, we still had good attendance and the kids left very happy with their games, many coming back to tell me later that they played them at home.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this program series and how I was able to incorporate so much of our non-fiction collection into the programs. My coworkers ran a Pre-K version of this STEAM series congruently with mine, which allowed us to get almost all the ages actively involved in fun and educational programming.

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