Physics

STEAM Engines from home: the busiest physicists

2021-02-10T15:42:30-07:00

Towards the end of summer, I fell victim to one of those AMAZING PAINTING YOU WILL BE MESMERIZED type videos floating around on social media. I admit that, like a cartoon squirrel presented with a decoy nut, I am easily captivated. I am handily distracted by cookie decorating videos. TRANSFORM THIS OLD WHATCHAMACALLIT INTO SOMETHING (objectively useless but still) COOL videos regularly siphon valuable minutes off my life. But readers, there was something to this AMAZING PAINTING video. It was an art form called pendulum painting, in which an artist sets a hanging paint container with a hole in the bottom [...]

STEAM Engines from home: the busiest physicists2021-02-10T15:42:30-07:00

LED Light Up Cards

2019-02-23T17:53:29-07:00

This month we combined card-making with circuitry for our latest Be the Scientist program for grades 3-5. We facilitated this program near Valentine’s Day thinking it would help spark interest. Here’s what we did. We started the program by talking about circuitry, asking participants what they knew about how a circuit works and what its used for. In addition to talking about how a circuit works, we used a Snap Circuits Jr. kit to demonstrate a basic circuit, pointing out the power source, connecting wires, switch, and light. This bridged into the day’s activity and we explained how basic circuits can [...]

LED Light Up Cards2019-02-23T17:53:29-07:00

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

Exploring Music

2018-11-27T20:00:34-07:00

This fall our STEAM space, the BOOMbox, is exploring music. Every two weeks, we focused drop-in experiences on a different aspect of music, from physics to history to genres. We used a variety of tools and resources for hands-on learning, experimentation, and exploration, largely engaging learners in grades 2-7. Here are some of the focus areas and related activities we featured.   Sound The first month explored sound: what it is, how it’s made, and how we hear. Exploration and activity stations included DIY instruments with recyclables, experimenting with the production of sound using different instruments like ukuleles and wood blocks, [...]

Exploring Music2018-11-27T20:00:34-07:00

Pumpkin STEMs!

2018-11-25T20:50:30-07:00

STEM programming and Halloween just sort of naturally go together. But I was looking for a slightly "less gross" way to connect the two. Building and pumpkins don't seem to normally go in the same sentence, but we tried and it and had a blast! For the engineering portion of the program, I decided to use a variation on the marshmallows and spaghetti project building idea. I provided candy pumpkins and toothpicks for the building challenge. Candy Corn was also available, although none chose to build with it. They were allowed as many candy pumpkins as they needed, and both flat [...]

Pumpkin STEMs!2018-11-25T20:50:30-07:00

Lessons Learned from Camp Cosmos

2018-11-19T21:28:33-07:00

            How do you decide if an event is a success? Usually the number of people in attendance is a good indicator, and one that the state wants us to report. But what if you only have three people from your intended audience attend? Can you still call that a successful event? To celebrate the end of World Space Week in October, we held Camp Cosmos at one of the local parks. We had paper rockets launched by compressed air, made space packs, offered "moon sand" to play in, made galaxy art, and more. It was a [...]

Lessons Learned from Camp Cosmos2018-11-19T21:28:33-07:00

Science of Sound

2018-10-26T11:47:36-06:00

This fall our informal learning space, the BOOMbox, is exploring all things music. The rotation is 16 weeks long and we’re focusing on a different concept related to music about every two weeks. This month’s STEAM program for youth grades 3-5 aligned with the rotation and we explored the physics of sound in a hands on way by making membranophones, courtesy of the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Here’s what we did. Like previous Be the Scientist programs featured on the blog, the program began with an overview using a short slide presentation. This allows us to set the stage for the [...]

Science of Sound2018-10-26T11:47:36-06:00

Celebrating Rockets’ Red Glare!

2018-07-03T22:52:45-06:00

On Monday, we celebrated America's birthday with some STEM activities! As always, we started with some reading, and I intentionally chose books that included images of fireworks. I also included a number of non-fiction Independence Day titles in my book display, along with this title: We started by reading A is for America, by Devin Scilian, then read Happy Birthday, America, by Mary Pope Osborne.  In keeping with the "rockets' red glare," theme, I decided to try two different activities, and both worked very well. The main activity was the creation of paper rockets which we launched with a stomp rocket launcher. [...]

Celebrating Rockets’ Red Glare!2018-07-03T22:52:45-06:00

Join the Rage! DIY Fidget Spinners

2017-06-24T13:01:08-06:00

      I came across an interesting new type of toy online a few months ago - fidget spinners.  They're advertised as good for nail chewers, autistic people, children and adults with OCD, ADHD, and a variety of other conditions and issues.  I don't know about all that, but I do know they are kinda fun to play with, and now I see them everywhere, including spinning up a storm in the hands of library customers. I've also discovered that people are designing new styles, shapes, and forms of fidget spinners all the time.  Being ever on the lookout for [...]

Join the Rage! DIY Fidget Spinners2017-06-24T13:01:08-06:00

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
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