STEAM From Home: Soap Magic

2020-07-27T08:04:05-06:00

Like everyone else, the question of connection looms large during this pandemic. Connection with patrons, connecting ideas - how to provide these meaningful experiences remotely? Especially STEAM for a young audience. When so much of the learning is experiential, how can we can reach our patrons? I have a glass half full (depending on the day) situation wherein I have two naturally curious, creative, youngsters at home, one of whom (my son Desi) is willing to be on camera. While this provides its own set of challenges (filming with my children is akin to trying to get an eager cat to [...]

STEAM From Home: Soap Magic2020-07-27T08:04:05-06:00

Ocean Acidification

2019-12-20T11:44:43-07:00

This month’s Be the Scientist program for grades 3-5 focused on a single experiment about ocean acidification. It’s been a little while since we provided a more STEM based program where everyone follows along with specific instructions, but we see the value in exposing youth patrons to the scientific method while also including room for processing observations and debriefing the activity to really drive home specific concepts. Here’s what we did. We started off in true Be the Scientist fashion with a short slide show that welcomed information sharing about oceans and climate change from participants. We also included a video [...]

Ocean Acidification2019-12-20T11:44:43-07:00

STEAM Kits

2019-01-16T17:17:42-07:00

One way we promote self-directed STEAM learning at Skokie Public Library is through our STEAM Kit collection. We have about 30 kits that cardholders can checkout for one week at a time. Here’s how we create, circulate, and promote this specialized collection.   Kit Topics and Contents Our STEAM kits are carefully curated by staff in the Learning Experiences department. Often, kits are inspired by previous BOOMbox rotation equipment. We strive to pair hands on resources with books and DVDs related to the topic or concept. For example, our Makey Makey kit comes with a Makey Makey, related wire connectors, and [...]

STEAM Kits2019-01-16T17:17:42-07:00

STEAM Engines

2018-12-27T17:00:13-07:00

Youth Services Librarian Caitlin Savage took over STEAM programming for grades K-2 last spring at Skokie Public Library. Under her direction, the bi-monthly Science Club program became monthly and was re-branded as STEAM Engines. This program is becoming a destination for budding scientists and explorers, and serves a bridge to other STEAM opportunities at the library, including the BOOMbox. Here’s how it is designed and facilitated. STEAM Engines follows a similar model to Science Club, using picture books, songs, and short slideshows to explore scientific concepts followed by hands-on activities and experiments. The STEAM moniker gives Caitlin a bit more room [...]

STEAM Engines2018-12-27T17:00:13-07:00

Exploring Chemical Engineering

2018-07-30T19:35:21-06:00

This summer our informal learning space, the BOOMbox, is exploring all things engineering. The rotation is 16 weeks long and we’re focusing on a different field of engineering every two weeks. Last month we shared information about a program related to civil engineering and this month, we’re sharing highlights from our two weeks of exploring chemical engineering. Please note these activities were intended to provide a foundation of chemistry knowledge. We used that as a starting point for discussing what chemical engineering is with participants, and how it affects us on a day to day basis. Here’s what we featured. We [...]

Exploring Chemical Engineering2018-07-30T19:35:21-06:00

STEAM Benchmarks

2017-09-08T14:56:34-06:00

We know that hands-on or experiential learning is great for patrons of all ages, and that it’s particularly powerful in STEAM learning opportunities. Skokie Public Library has developed STEAM programming benchmarks for our youth patrons, from pre-kindergarten through grade 5, that ensure we have regular STEAM offerings on a variety of topics. We’ve found that these benchmarks are a great way for us to ensure we’re offering a variety of STEAM program options during each program cycle, and also to think about how we might want to theme our programs around core concepts or disciplines (like space, botany, or architecture). Here’s [...]

STEAM Benchmarks2017-09-08T14:56:34-06:00

Sharpie Tie-Dye

2017-08-23T10:02:46-06:00

As summer comes to an end and many of our patrons are busy on vacation or getting ready to go back to school, we were eager to offer quick access to STEAM opportunities. One of our favorites is Sharpie Tie-Dye; it’s a low-cost experiment that takes just a few minutes but has a big impact in helping participants to gain scientific knowledge. Here’s what we did. We first offered Sharpie Tie-Dye in the BOOMbox, Skokie Public Library’s STEAM learning space, and then created a to-go version to use on our Bookmobile this summer. We used small squares of neutral, natural fabrics [...]

Sharpie Tie-Dye2017-08-23T10:02:46-06:00

Family Science Expo

2017-02-10T14:19:27-07:00

At the end of January, we hosted our fourth annual Family Science Expo here at Skokie Public Library. When we first offered the all-ages family event in winter 2014, we used the same model pioneered by one of our nearby libraries, Des Plaines Public Library: we offered access to a variety of exhibitors from local science-related businesses as well as representatives from STEAM societies and organizations. At that time, we didn’t yet offer a lot of science programming led by library staff on a regular basis. In the years since, however, we’ve really amped up our STEAM programming throughout the year--which [...]

Family Science Expo2017-02-10T14:19:27-07:00

DNA Extraction from Cheek Cells

2016-12-15T11:39:20-07:00

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 uses inexpensive household items. And we were even able to complete the experiment without a sink! We used an experiment from NOVA as our starting point--it has a teacher resource sheet in addition to the printable experiment. Read the full experiment linked here for the step-by-step [...]

DNA Extraction from Cheek Cells2016-12-15T11:39:20-07:00

DIY Giant Bubbles

2016-09-16T12:03:01-06:00

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 Two staff members were present to help with setting up the supplies and to assist participants with making wands and blowing bubbles. Supplies included water, liquid dish soap, yarn or string, scissors, plastic straws, and vegetable glycerin, plus a few plastic wash tubs for mixing the [...]

DIY Giant Bubbles2016-09-16T12:03:01-06:00
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