Girls Who Code @ Russell Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

In the summer of 2017 the Russell Library in Middletown Connecticut, was accepted to participate in the national non-profit Girls Who Code©. Girls Who Code (GWC) partners with other groups, such as libraries, to prepare students for careers in technology fields by introducing computer programming. Starting in September 2017 the Russell Library offered its first GWC course for 20 weeks to a full class of 12 students and a waiting list! The popularity and the community’s positive response suggested that the library should offer the course again.

As a Teen Librarian with a MLS and no official Computer Science background, after the first session I realized I needed reinforcements. The YALSA/ Dollar General Grant fit the perfect spot to be able to offer the program again.  (*Side Note- GWC suggests a CS Degree or CS experience is not necessary; that anyone can run a GWC program with the tools and resources they provide.)

The initial impetus in searching for a grant was our robust teen volunteer program, which offers important job preparation skills to the teens of Middletown. Teens volunteer at the library all year long, with the majority of the hours in the summer. During the brainstorming process, the concept transformed from volunteers assisting in all Youth and Family Learning Summer Learning Programs to two interns for a specific program, GWC.

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YALSAblog News of the Month – November 2016

Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.

YALSAblog News of the Month – July 2016

Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.

STEM in Informal Learning Settings

wikimedia photo of someone working with a robot “After a 15-month review of the current evidence base, the National Research Council’s (NRC) Board on Science Education concluded in a recent 2015 study that out-of-school programs have been shown to:

  • contribute to young people’s interest in and understanding of STEM,
  • connect young people to caring adults who serve as role models, and
  • reduce the achievement gap Continue reading

YALS – Libraries and Learning: A Resource Guide for “Make, Do, Share”

cover of spring yalsYou should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.

One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
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DeSTEMber: STEM Activities for Girls

This December, one organization is working to give girls a gift that will last a lifetime: resources to reach their potential in science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is a prominent part of current educational models in the U.S., but girls are traditionally underrepresented in STEM-related professional fields. DeSTEMber aims to change that.

DeSTEMber is hosted by non-profit organization Girlstart. “Half of the world’s potential ideamakers—women and girls—are discouraged from developing their ideas because of social bias or inequity. More girls with more ideas create more solutions,” notes the organization. Girlstart has been working since 1997 “to increase girls’ interest and engagement in STEM through innovative, nationally-recognized informal STEM education programs.” Their work covers girls in grades K-16. (See their About Us page for more information.)

The DeSTEMber website offers a STEM activity for each day of December. The downloadable activity PDFs include instructions for the activity and a short explanation to go along with it. Each one also features links to additional resources, plus a Career Connection section that describes a profession relating to that activity. These are intended to be far more than one-time activities; they are springboards into the future, both for short-term learning and long-term education and career goals.

Interested in participating? Although DeSTEMber is almost over, these activities are relevant all year long. Girlstart also maintains a link to the DeSTEMber 2013 activity page, meaning users can access 62 free STEM resources.

Librarians and other educators interested in getting involved with Girlstart should visit their educator page.

Virtual Road Trip: Virginia

On Friday, February 7, sixty library staff from across the Commonwealth of Virginia gathered for a one day STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workshop hosted by the Science Museum of Virginia and the Library of Virginia. Funding was provided by the Institute for Museum and Libraries Services (IMLS).virginia

The workshop provided a framework for presenting science challenges to create thinking and learning experiences.’  Chuck English, Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry at the Science Museum, introduced an interactive and thoughtful way to present programs.’  We began by learning fun ways to assess the participants’ science skills and knowledge levels and ended with simple ways to measure learning outcomes.’  In between, participants were given challenges that mimicked a library STEM program.’  One such challenge was, with a bag full of items, create a prosthetic hand for a baby chimpanzee that would hold a banana.’  Although each group was given the same items, not all the engineering designs were similar.’  Another challenge was to trace a body, draw in the skeletal system and then create with an iPad an instructional video. Continue reading

Idaho Libraries Shake Up the Maker Movement: Creating makers, then spaces (part three)

Just in time for Teen Tech Week planning, the third in a four-part series detailing how one state library commission facilitated a culture of learning and experimentation through the maker movement in a variety of library settings.

By Teresa Lipus, Public Information Specialist, Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) with significant input from Erica Compton and Sue Walker, ICfL project coordinators.

Project evaluation

Compton and Walker designed tools to help evaluate the program on two levels:

1. Library users: To evaluate the effectiveness of the makerspace activities and programs, they developed a survey tool to poll actual participants as a group before and after an activity. It is designed to record changes in skills, attitude, and behavior. So far there has been mixed success, but the survey is being modified as it is used and tested for effectiveness.

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Idaho Libraries Shake Up the Maker Movement: Creating makers, then spaces (part two)

Just in time for Teen Tech Week planning, the second in a four-part series detailing how one state library commission facilitated a culture of learning and experimentation through the maker movement in a variety of library settings.

By Teresa Lipus, Public Information Specialist, Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) with significant input from Erica Compton and Sue Walker, ICfL project coordinators.

Timeline

Pilot libraries were selected in December 2012. Three webinars and three face-to-face trainings were held from January through November 2013.

Materials and tools

ICfL wanted to provide a variety of STEAM materials and tools so libraries could explore many different programming ideas. Selected tools:

  • supported project objectives,
  • aligned with Common Core Standards,
  • allowed for complex projects,
  • introduced motorized designs,
  • included curriculum and project ideas, and
  • included trainers or local support when possible.

materials

Materials from PCS Edventures!, Reuseum, Maker Media/MakerShed, and RepRap MendleMax 3D Printers were chosen.

Training

It was essential to enlist an experienced trainer to work with the team, and PCS Edventures provided Kellie Dean to lead the workshops. Dean is an expert on experiential learning and helped build the foundation needed to implement the pilot.
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