About Amy Holcomb

Amy manages the BOOMbox: Skokie Public Library's STEAM space that features a different theme every few months. She is a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and values the DIY (do it yourself) and DIT (do it together) approach to learning.

Scratch Jr. Code Camp

This past winter break, Skokie Public Library experimented with offering a variety of 3-day camps for patrons grades K-5, all in some way connected to STEAM topics. One camp for grades K-2 focused on coding using Scratch Jr., a free iOS app that is an adaptation of the web-based, visual programming language Scratch intended for

By |January 18th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

DNA Extraction from Cheek Cells

We know that hands-on experimentation often leads to more meaningful learner engagement and a deeper understanding of concepts. We recently facilitated a catchy yet easy-to-execute experiment during drop-in hours in the BOOMbox, Skokie Public Library’s STEAM learning space. Our experiment: human DNA extraction. While DNA extraction may seem daunting, this experiment is relatively simple and

By |December 15th, 2016|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science|1 Comment

Family Escape Room Challenge

A family working on Gravity Maze challenge cards. Have you noticed the escape room trend popping up in library programming? We decided to jump on that bandwagon and framed our latest STEAM family challenge program around the escape room trend, incorporating logic and teamwork around a series of puzzles. I’ve mentioned Mission: BOOMbox

By |November 8th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Science|0 Comments

DIY Giant Bubbles

The last weeks of summer are a great time to take science outside. At Skokie Public Library, we featured giant bubbles and bubble wand making at two outdoor events, one at a local school and one in conjunction with a bookmobile visit in the community. Here’s what we did. Photo by Andrew Dworek

By |September 16th, 2016|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Physics, Science, STEM|0 Comments

Roller Coaster Family Challenge

Long collaborative coaster We’ve been exploring all things architecture this summer in the BOOMbox, Skokie Public Library’s experiential learning STEAM space. I’ve mentioned a foray into preschool programming around the architecture theme in a previous post, and now I’m glad to share a challenge aimed at this school-age audience. We just hosted our

By |August 11th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Physics, STEM|Tags: , |0 Comments

Blooming Paper Flowers

This summer, Skokie Public Library is offering daily after-lunch drop-in programs for youth entering grades 3-5. Every Friday is billed as “Science Friday,” and these days are reserved for simple and engaging science experiments and inquiry. We have been attracting a solid group of kids--larger audiences than we’ve traditionally seen for drop-in science activities--so we

By |July 6th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Science|0 Comments

Three Little Pigs and the Budding Architects

Skokie Public Library’s experiential learning space, the BOOMbox, focuses on a different STEAM theme every four months, providing tools and inspiration to learn more about a topic through hands on experimentation. While this space is intended for youth, teens, and adults, it is not developmentally appropriate for children younger than kindergarten So, in conjunction with

By |June 9th, 2016|Categories: Engineering, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Vocabulary|0 Comments

Host a BioBlitz at the Library

BioBlitz participant examining a planter with a magnifying glass. As part of Earth Day celebrations, the Skokie Public Library hosted a BioBlitz, inspired by the annual event of the same name coordinated by National Geographic. A BioBlitz is a survey of a defined geographical area in an attempt to inventory all the species

Life on Mars: Citizen Science for Upper Elementary

One of my favorite STEM programs combines the awe factor of potentially living on Mars and the positive impact of Citizen Science. This “Life on Mars” program was presented to youth in grades 3-5 at Skokie Public Library and would work well through grade 6. Citizen Science, where the general public contributes to science research,

By |April 21st, 2016|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, NASA, Space Exloration, STEM|Tags: |0 Comments

States of Matter: Chemistry Programming for Preschool and Early Elementary

When you put the time into creating a dynamic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for youth, it feels like a big bonus to be able to offer modified versions of the program to multiple ages of children. Below is a great example of a program that can be adapted for multiple age groups--and

By |April 11th, 2016|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Science, STEM|0 Comments
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