DeSTEMber: Science Conferences

cubelets Last month, my public library co-worker and I presented on our STEM library resources at the National Science Teacher’s Association conference in our hometown.

When I first proposed the idea, my co-worker (who definitely has a more extensive background in science than I) was a bit skeptical about applying to a science teacher conference as librarians. When I showed her where some of the session descriptions were on par with the programming ideas we could share, ‘Science in the Library: Beyond the Collection’ was born. Fortunately the committee that reviewed the applications agreed as well and we were ‘in’.

While we highlighted our library’s participation in such activities as the statewide science festival and even our green building scavenger hunt, we mainly focused on what we call our “take out kits.” These are basically “programs in a box” or resources to supplement a program in either Children’s or Teen Services. The STEM-focused ones included anything from portable animation and LEGO WeDo robotics to Cubelets and a human body kit where kids can assemble the human skeleton. The participant numbers at our session weren’t large, but we made solid connections with those that attended, and we went on to network outside of the session, including a visit to our library and follow-up emails for further information.

I do think a change in the session title could have increased the numbers. Instead of the focus being on the “library,” which means many different things to everyone, the focus could have been on the programming kits themselves, which teachers and librarians alike would find useful.

Most outside conference attendance for librarians can be pretty limited due to funding and time. A science conference also might not rank alongside ALA with you or your administration. But it can’t hurt to check, and if the next conference happens to be in your area, it might provide some professional development opportunities to engage your local science teachers with library resources. They will likely be grateful the library is taking a more active role in helping support their students with their science learning. You will be glad to have an opportunity for these members of the community to see the library in a different light!

Here’s the PPT presentation we provided for background information. The live session gave attendees hands-on opportunities to use the kits included in the slides.

If you’ve attended or presented at a science conference as affiliated with the library, feel free to share your experiences!

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Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.