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.

It’s all about science, but applied science often involves technology or engineering, which is turn calls on math skills. So now’s the perfect time to start up STEM programs or to do even more STEM programming.

So I did a Pinterest search for STEM programs and it brought up some pretty cool ideas. Many of them are for kids, but you can adapt them or do a theme of activities for teens. Many of them don’t take very long, so combining several into one event might be just the thing.

I have my own Pinterest board dedicated to Teen Summer 2014. Most of these programs are easy to do, meaning no science degree or special equipment required.  In fact, the everyday materials used are mostly items we have in the library already.

There’s a whole movement towards girls and STEM, but I think many of these programs you can hold at the library will attract both genders. There’s a blog post with a round-up of ideas dedicated to science and candy. And what teen doesn’t love candy?

YALSA’s STEM task force also has a large collection of resources, including General Science, Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Technology/Engineering, Math, and Maker Spaces.

Plus many of the creative programs are messy. I can’t wait to blow food colored bubbles through straws and watch them splatter across the paper. Painting with milk, food coloring, and dish soap looks pretty cool. I’m excited about the art/science crafts because I’m a crafty person, but I would love making airplanes or buildings out of paper towel rolls, eating edible DNA after creating them, and exploring the weather through experiments.


Do you have a STEM program that you’ve had success with? Let us know in the comments.

One Thought on “STEM Made Easy: Gathering Ideas for Next Summer’s Cooperative Reading Theme

  1. Hillary Rains on December 11, 2013 at 11:37 am said:

    This last summer, we had our information systems people give us lots of old computer equipment that they were getting rid of. We had our teens take them apart as they saw fit and learn more about how the computers worked. Our systems people were on hand to help with any problems, and the teens LOVED it. They took apart a couple of CPUs, two laptops, a printer, and a projector. It was amazing to see them dig into the technology and see how it works.

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