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.

3D printing Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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

Just in time for Teen Tech Week planning, the last 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

Making it work

The libraries are doing an exceptional job implementing programs at their libraries. Below are some examples of how the pilot libraries have integrated the maker culture into their libraries and embraced making in all forms.

  • Some libraries implemented weekly open making time. Others have a variety of programs offered throughout the week—each with a specific topic or focus.
  • Not all programming is at a specific time and place. Stealth challenges prove to be a good way to expand the makerspace idea and allow participants to be creative on their own time schedule. Daily or weekly challenges are set out and require little or no staff time to implement. Some libraries tethered digital cameras near the challenge so kids could snap a picture of the finished project and enter it into a weekly contest.
  • One library is looking at creating an outdoor makerspace where gardening, nature, and other related activities can be implemented. Continue reading

DeSTEMber: Robotic Kits

b696_edge_robotic_arm_kitFor the past five years, I’ve been running an after-school technology program with teens in grades 6- 8. We’ve done lots of different projects like READ posters, stop motion animation, digital art, photography, and podcasts.

This spring we’re trending into a a very different territory for us: robotics. I’m excited and scared about this venture and it will be a learning experience for both me and my staff and the teens. While our session doesn’t officially begin until February, I thought I would share some of the robotic kits we are considering purchasing.

Continue reading

STEM Made Easy: Gathering Ideas for Next Summer’s Cooperative Reading Theme


I didn’t know much about STEM programming before this post – or at least I thought I didn’t. Then I did some research. Turns out, I’ve been doing STEM programming without realizing it.

Those marshmallow catapults for The Homework Machine book club and the Rube Goldberg machines both for 4th and 5th graders were STEM programs. Those bottle rockets and the lava lamps for teens were STEM programs. Best of all, they were all super fun and the kids and teens had a blast!

Rube Goldberg Machine

A machine built at Otis Library

The theme for next summer’s collaborative reading program is all about science: Fizz, Boom, Read! (for kids or as general theme for the entire library) or Spark a Reaction for teens. Both of these themes can easily support a wide range of STEM programs. Continue reading

Gearing up for DeSTEMber

DeSTEMber is sponsored by Girlstart, an organization whose mission involves empowering girls to continue STEM studies, an ambitious goal considering the White House estimates only a mere 24% of scientists and engineers are women. If you’re not particularly science-oriented, promoting STEM can seem daunting, bit Girlstart’s associated website provides a wealth of programming ideas, many in online modules, as well as an archive of DeSTEMber content from 2012. There are synchronous guest lectures planned from many top-flight science centers and zoos around the country as well, so all you have to do is dial in.

deSTEMber

Ways to connect with DeSTEMber 2013 from Girlstart:

1. Join Girlstart’s exclusive ‘Girlstart for Educators’ Google+ community‘ to receive our DeSTEMber activities before we release them to the public.
2. Request to get your classroom involved to participate live with virtual guest speakers here.
3. Download State and National Standards aligned DeSTEMber calendar here: 2012 and 2013.
4. Follow #deSTEMber to share your classroom photos on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
5. Click here for DeSTEMber 2012!

The YALSAblog will join in DeSTEMber throughout the month, sharing exceptional STEM programming and resources for teens and tweens. And Kelly Czarnecki will be highlighting a range of Learning Labs supported by the Macarthur Foundation, and your imagination is bound to be sparked by these spaces and programs in museums and libraries across the country. We hope this constructivist movement will provide a nice antidote to the consumerism of the season.

STEM Into Winter Programming

Everyone’s talking about STEM (or the arts-added version showcased in the October issue of School Library Journal), and YALSA’s STEM task force produced an updated toolkit earlier this year to provide 41 pages of STEM programming resources just for young adult librarians.

SLJ_CV_OCT2013

If you’re stumped for ideas and looking how to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into your program schedule, look no further than YALSA’s STEM Toolkit.

It includes step-by-step program plans, advocacy information if you need to justify your program plans, resources, and dozens of ideas to get your program going.’ ‘ Chock-full of research on best practices and “why” STEM should be a priority for library professionals, the toolkit highlights the importance of developing a thorough program plan and guides you through initial brainstorming efforts to an adaptable teenprogram evaluation. Passive and active programming ideas from around the country are included,including three immediately replicable projects.

Check it out today! ‘ And ‘ thanks to STEM Task Force Member Jennifer Knight for the heads-up on this great resource.