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Like the increasingly popular "escape rooms" — in which players solve a series of puzzles to break out of a room — Breakouts use a compelling story, time limit, and series of puzzles to create an interactive game. But instead of breaking out of a locked room, students must work together to break into a tightly locked box before the timer runs out. Puzzles lead to the combinations for the different types of locks, and many games also include a digital element.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Or an axle. Or a 24-tooth crown gear. Or all of them in one sitting.
That was the challenge we faced here at Mid-Continent Public Library as we planned to make LEGO WeDo kits available for programs at our 31 branches. How do you circulate 40 kits throughout the system without losing most of the pieces — and your mind?
TED talks — Technology, Education, Design — are an international phenomenon where speakers share big ideas in short, inspiring speeches. TEDxYDL (Ypsilanti District Library) is an independently organized event in the spirit of TED talks. The audience hears from local speakers on a variety of topics around the theme "Invent. Create. Change."
Saturday mornings in our small town are not the busiest time at the LP Fisher Public Library, especially in the summer. People have either gone to the lake, are working in their gardens, or are at the farmers market. We are situated in a fairly rural area and agriculture (both marget garden and industrial) makes up a fair bit of our economy. So in 2018, we decided to try going to where the farmers and shoppers are — the market.
Makerspaces foster creativity and encourage out-of-the-box thinking, but they often require physical space that a library doesn't have. But even if your library doesn't have a dedicated makerspace, you can still incorporate maker elements into your day. Our school library transforms our lunch period into maker time with STEAM activities such as our Mystery Maker Challenge.
Something we notice a lot here at the LP Fisher Public Library (and you probably do, too) is that when many of our young patrons get their first library card they have a difficult time signing the back. And we're not just talking preschoolers who are still learning to form letters — we're talking preteens and teenagers. Sometimes even adults.
Provide a half-day STEM camp where the kids really get involved and inspired.
Using STEM learning tools you already have, you can go deeper into a subject to reinforce knowledge that the students may have already been introduced to. Campers will have time to think about their tasks and fire up their minds and imaginations.
The Librarygame project teaches fifth graders the concepts of storytelling, technology and project management through the creation of video games. The program is a collaboration between Sacramento Public Library and local Title I schools, many of which lack the funds to hold this type of program without a partner.
The Highland Park Public Library envisioned forming one robotics team that would meet weekly to participate in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). FLL is a robotics program that gives elementary and middle-school students the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem using robots and research.
In September 2016, our library learned that Laurens County would be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and that a program from the Space Science Institute (SSI) and NASA was offering free eclipse glasses for libraries to distribute to their patrons. Our director thought it might be good to plan an event, especially since we have plenty of parking and a large lawn.
Science in St. Louis is an ongoing program series held at St. Louis County Library (SLCL). This program features local scientists and their research projects. While many of the topics discussed can be quite complex, the goal of this program is to present science in a fun and informal manner that encourages children and adults to become interested in science.
Since starting in 2015, there have been 16 programs with an average of 82 attendees per program. Topics have included Missouri’s Ozark dinosaurs, forensics at the St. Louis County Crime Lab, and 3D printing in medicine.
Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) is a weekly STEM workshop series for teenage girls offered at five of our library system’s locations during the month of June. Participants get to meet influential women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, learn about STEM opportunities and get hands-on experience with STEM technologies.
Each two-hour session consists of a presentation from a female professional in a STEM field, followed by a one-hour activity that explores and builds STEM skills among the participants.
Build a Better World with Magna-Tiles was one session of our STEAM and community engagement-focused summer reading program. This session used Magna-Tiles (clear plastic 2-D geometric shapes that are lined with magnets and can be combined to create 2- and 3-D designs) in a hands-on, student-led program.
At Skokie Public Library, we recently spent four months exploring different aspects of what it means to be human, as a host site of ALA's Exploring Human Origins exhibition. In one of our upper-elementary science programs, we focused specifically on the human brain and its memory capabilities. The program was literally sugar-coated, as you’ll see below.