Tag Archives: STEM

The Solar Eclipse Experience

16 Aug

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NRAt this point (especially if you work in a library), if you haven’t heard about the solar eclipse then I want to be you! We applied for the NASA grant and didn’t get it, so my children’s and teen programming librarians decided that we would offer a program anyway and buy some glasses for the program participants. We went back and forth on how many pairs of glasses to order, how popular we thought the program would be, who we could have come in to actually do the program, etc. We were finally able to get one of our middle school teachers to put a program together for us (right before school started and she was kind enough to volunteer her time). We decided to only order enough glasses for the program participants and opened the program up to 40 kids. Well, needless to say, the program is completely filled with an additional 25 kids on our waiting list.

I come into the library yesterday morning, ready to open my office and I seen an email pinned to my door, it’s from Amazon. They’re refunding us our money for the glasses because they cannot verify with the manufacturer that our glasses are properly certified. I have 40 kids planning on coming to a program in less than 36 hours who are expecting glasses. It was not an enjoyable way to start my day.

After hours of searching online, calling local retailers and doing a ton of research, we made our decision. We’d proceed with the program, email the participants ahead of time explaining the situation, provide the kids with instructions and materials to create a pinhole solar eclipse viewer and hope for the best. So far, I haven’t heard any major complaints, but as the director I made the tough call to choose not to hand out our glasses. My librarians did the research and chose the glasses that appeared to be certified (and it says it right there, printed on the glasses), but I don’t want any eye injuries as a result of handing out faulty solar eclipse glasses, so that’s where we stand. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to field calls from community members asking if we have glasses to give away and trying to get into the solar eclipse program that has been full for a month.

I can’t wait for the eclipse to be over.

 

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Popular Trends & How to Incorporate Them into the Library

5 Aug

Yellow_Fidget_SpinnerPopular trends happen in a blink of an eye – a book becomes popular after being a sleeper when it was published, a movie becomes the most quoted movie of the summer or a toy becomes the must-have of the holiday season. As libraries continue to fight for funding and recognition within their community , jumping onto these popular trends is a way to bring people into the library that may not normally visit. So after carefully planning your programming months in advance, how do you throw in additional programs at the last minute and still have staff time to plan an event and market the program to the community?

Although this is something I think my library needs to work on a bit more, I think that it’s important to have a basic program plan ready to go for arts, movies, technology, and other themes. By having a basic plan, you can toss in any popular trend quickly and easily. Below, are a few popular trends over the past few years and I’ve added a quick program that’s easy to offer to your patrons.

Disney Movie Sing Along
Frozen was a HUGE hit and you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing kids singing the soundtrack. Offer a movie sing along at the library, a movie license, some speakers and a projector is all you need and encourage kids to sing along to all the songs. If you want, you can add snacks and crafts (but you don’t need to!).

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go was a crazy trend last summer that had people roaming all throughout their community with their cell phones catching Pokemon. A quick, no fuss program (that you can partner with your local Park & Rec dept.) have a Pokemon Go safari in a local park or in the community. A 30-minute walk is the perfect amount of time for young kids, plus it gets kids exercising.

Slime
I’ve made more Slime in my life than I ever though possible. A few summers ago, I made slime with 4 different camp groups, plus offered another program at the library. I swore I would never make slime again, but it’s popular now and it’s fairly easy to make, so teach the kids how to make slime and talk about non-Newtonian fluids and bam – you’ve got a STEM program.

Kindness Rocks
This is my favorite, new popular trend – painted rocks that are hidden all over the community, often with kind words or inspiring quotes painted on them. This is a super simple program, have kids bring in their own rocks or purchase some from a home improvements store. Grab some paints and paintbrushes from your supply closet and you’ve got a program. Once the rocks dry, offer a second program to spread them throughout the community or allow kids to take them home and hide them near their houses. Because honestly, who doesn’t need more kindness?!?!?

So once you’ve planned the program, how do you promote a program that was planned a week ago? Social media for one – our patrons love checking our Facebook page for upcoming events, make sure to add it to your event calendar and promote it on your website. Plus, if you another program happening before your popular trend program – promote it there! Talk it up at the check-out desk and make sure you put together an eye catching flyer and leave it at the computer desks, reference desks and circ desks.

The worst thing you can do is try to offer a popular trend program after the trend has died down. It’s important to take advantage of the trend while it’s popular, otherwise you’re just creating more work for yourself and not connecting patrons with the world they know and love. The view that libraries are antiquated and unnecessary is so prevalent and what I want my library to do is to embrace those current trends and look at the future to gauge what might become popular and be ready.

Baby Shower Books – Version 2.0

6 May

I’m headed to, Jamie, my friend and fellow blogger’s baby shower today! If you’ve never checked out The Perpetual Page-Turner, go there now, I’ll wait. Also, check out The Broke & the Bookish, where Jamie is the creator and a contributor! Before I get into board books, I have to share how Jamie and I met. Continue reading

Workman Publishing Halloween Giveaway

13 Oct

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I’m so excited to be working together with Workman Publishing (they have some absolutely amazing titles coming out on a regular basis – check ’em out!) to bring you my first ever Book Giveaway, just in time for the Halloween season! There are some amazing books that you could win in this awesome prize package!  An all ages smorgasbord of titles for Halloween including Sandra Boynton’s newest board book title, EEK! Halloween, a book chock full of glow-in-the-dark paper robots, a book of science experiments for your own mad scientist and all the information you could ever want to know about creepy creatures from around the world!  The raffle will be held from Thursday, October 13th – Sunday, October 16th.  One random winner will be chosen.  To enter, simply scroll to the bottom of this post and enter the Rafflecopter raffle!  Good luck!

9780761193005_3D.pngEEK! Halloween by Sandra Boynton | August 23, 2016 | $6.95 | 24 pages | Ages 0-4

It starts with an uh-oh—the chickens are nervous! Strange things are happening. One chicken saw a pumpkin with flickering eyes, another spied a mouse of enormous size. They all saw a wizard and a witch, and a spooky robot. “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? / Relax, silly chickens! It’s HALLOWEEN!”

 

9780761177623_3dPapertoy Glowbots by Brian Castleforte | August 23, 2016 | 196 Pages | Ages 9&up

Origami meets amazing creatures in a book of paper craft fun! Papertoy Glowbots introduces 46 robots that have the added cool factor of lighting up, whether using glow-in-the-dark stickers that come with the book or light sources like flashlights, Christmas tree lights, and electric tea lights.

 

9780761183792_3dFrightlopedia by Julie Winterbottom | August 23, 2016 | 224 Pages | Ages 8&up

Combining fact, fiction, and hands-on activities, Frightlopedia is an illustrated A-Z collection of some of the world’s most frightening places, scariest stories, and gruesomest creatures, both real and imagined.

 


9780761187387_3D.pngOh, Ick!: 114 Science Experiments Guaranteed to Gross You Out!
 by Joy Masoff with Jessica Garrett and Ben Ligon
| November 1, 2016 | Ages 8&up

Featuring 114 interactive experiments and ick-tivities, Oh, Ick! delves into the science behind everything disgusting. Stage an Ooze Olympics to demonstrate viscosity and the nature of slime. Observe how fungi grow by making a Mold Zoo. Embark on an Insect Safari to get to know the creepy crawlies around your home. And learn what causes that embarrassing acne on your face by baking a Pimple Cake to pop—and eat. Eww!


9780761184614_3dFearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods
by Hal Johnson and illustrated by Tom Mead| September 8, 2015 | Ages 8&up

Illustrated throughout, including eight drawings printed with glow-in-the-dark ink, Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods is for every young reader who loves a good scare. The book was originally published in 1910 by William Thomas Cox and is now inspiringly retold by Hal Johnson, author of Immortal Lycanthropes. The creatures are all scales and claws, razor-sharp teeth and stealth, camouflage and single-minded nastiness. Straight out of the era of Paul Bunyan, they speak to an earlier time in American history, when the woods were indeed dark and deep and filled with mystery. The tone is smart and quirky. The illustrations have a sinewy, retro field-guide look. Read them around a campfire, if you dare.


 

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Maker Monday: Squishy Circuits

8 Sep

Our last Maker Monday workshop this summer was all about Squishy Circuits.  If you’re not familiar with Squishy Circuits, they were created at the University of St. Thomas as a basic way to teach children about circuitry through (basically) play dough.  Two types of dough are created – one is conductive, while the other is insulating.  Then the rest of the materials you need are a basic 4 AA battery pack, some LEDs, buzzers and motors.  We actually were able to purchase 10 kits from the Squishy Circuits Store website and they worked really well for our group of kids.

I started the program talking to the kids about what makes a circuit work using a light switch as an example.  I also spent just a few minutes teaching the kids how to create a basic circuit using the play dough and the pieces of the kit and then I let them loose on the materials.  The kids spent a solid 45 minutes really working with the kits creating circuits and exploring the materials.  I was really impressed on how focused the kids were and even when something wasn’t working they kept playing around, asked a few questions and continued to work until they figured out the problems they were having.

A few caveats:

  • The buzzers in the Squishy Circuit kits are really loud and abrasive sounding, so after the kids got to try them, we told them to focus on using the LEDs and the motor.
  • You definitely don’t need one recipe of dough per kit. You could probably get away with one recipe of dough for every 2-3 kits.
  • And I didn’t have time to show the kids possible examples of what to create, but the website has some great videos that you could use to show kids what is possible using the Squishy Circuits.

Overall, the kids really enjoyed exploring Squishy Circuits and it’s not a huge expense, especially if you just purchase a few pieces to get started and create smaller groups in a workshop format.

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