Terrariums are a great, albeit expensive, way to introduce the S in STEAM and fairy gardens are a great way to introduce a new A in STEAM.
Disclaimer: Both programs were created a facilitated by my co-worker, Elise
Terrariums-garden science is actually quite popular among a specific group of teens. These teens like planting and if you are unable to create a garden at your library, terrariums can be an alternative.
Each layer in a terrarium has a purpose and this is where you can incorporate science.
Pebbles (These are only 2 pounds so purchase accordingly)
Craft sticks or other random craft supplies from your closet. (small plastic flowers, sea shells, fake leaves, butterflies)
How To: We put the house and the base on the main table and we laid out all the extras on a different table. We gave each teen a plate to “shop” all the extras-grab what they liked to add to their garden.
Tip: Leave out pictures for inspiration and provide a couple of minutes for teens to design their garden on paper. If you want to turn this into a design class, you can teach the basics of city planning.
Sewing needle (Make sure is small enough to fit in the eye of the battery holder and LED sequins)
Test your LED sequins first with alligator clips.
As you can see from the picture, I used the pocket of the t-shirt. If you are working with novices, I’d recommend you not use the pocket because it got a bit tricky avoiding sewing the pocket shut.
Have teens design a picture on paper to plan where they are going to place the LED.
Keep in mind that one side of the LED must connect to the positive side of the battery holder and the negative to the other side. This means two different tracks. I found using one sequins is best for novices.
TIP-It’s best to draw a picture that has a mirror image and then place the sequins in the middle.
Have teens lightly pencil draw their picture on the t-shirt. This is to keep their sewing straight. Remember to hold a place for the sequins.
Thread your needle. Don’t double thread like you do traditional sewing thread. It will be too thick. In other words, don’t pull your thread through the eye of the needle to create two strands of thread like traditional threading.
On the under side of the t-shirt, secure one side of the batter holder by looping through three times.
Sew your track to your sequins.
IMPORTANT!!! Make sure the positive side of the sequins faces the positive side of the battery holder.
Begin a new line of thread for the other side of the battery holder and repeat.
Insert the battery and cross your fingers that it works.
If your LED doesn’t work:
Make sure you have a good battery.
Be sure your threads don’t touch. This is usually the problem.
Make sure your sequins +/- lines up with the battery.
Being a programming librarian basically means that we have to always be ready for the next trend. Last summer it was Pokemon Go and this summer it has been fidget spinners. How can libraries capitalize on the fidget spinner craze before they go out of style? 3D print them.
Disclaimer: this program was created a facilitated by my co-worker Elise and I was a mere helper.
Elise began by determining the dimensions of the center ring (where the ball bearing sits). We have a Lulzbot Mini and we use Cura to print. The center ring dimensions are: 24.5×24.5×8 (circumference-24.5 and height-8).
If you are using a different printer, you can use the dimensions of the ball bearing you purchase and go from there. We ran into issues with this method because Cura changed the dimensions when it printed. We don’t know why and poor Elise had to print about 8 rings until she found the correct dimensions.
Soak your ball bearings in rubbing alcohol to clean them. A clean bearing spins better.
Before the class began, the teens were told that their spinners would not be printed by the end of program. We had teens write down their address and they were told that their spinners would be mailed to them the following week. This eliminates the highly likelihood of them coming into the library every hour asking for updates.
We use Tinkercad to teach the basics of 3D printing design. All attendees who have never 3D printed had to take six basic lessons on Tinkercad.
Next, we had teens begin with the ring shape and had them change the dimensions to 24.5×24.5×8.
Teens were then instructed to design around the center ring.
Tips: Everything must be the same height and touching.
We were able to print two spinners during the program. Teens used a hammer to secure their bearing.
We informed teens to apply grease to get a longer spin.
Do yourself a favor and invest in a button making machine.
Precut the circles with the circle cutter (You may have to buy that separately). Teens can draw right on the circles. OR
Measure the circle on Adobe Draw and allow teen to draw it digitally. Print them and make them into buttons.
Button makers are about $225 but you can make the case by using it often and it basically pays for itself!
Don’t have a button maker and can’t afford one? Make magnets! If you have a non-heat laminator, you can probably purchase magnet sheets to turn anything into a magnet. You can also purchase magnetic sheets to stick on paper. Simply do the above activities but turn it into a magnet campaign. Teens can make a bunch of magnets with positive messages for social change and stick them to lockers at school.
A fun passive program is M&M Mosaics. Teens can create a message of change using M&Ms. Just put an example with instructions and supplies in the middle of the table and let the teens take it from there.
Set vanilla frosting and craft sticks as glue.
Set out bowls of different colored M&Ms.
If you have a teen room, you can set the M&Ms in the middle of the table. Beware, teens will eat the M&Ms even if you explain that they are germy. If you are worried about them eating them, give them pre-filled bags of M&Ms and inform them that if they eat them, there won’t be enough to make a good mosaic. I’d recommend giving teens a fun sized bag of M&Ms for eating before or after they complete their mosaic.
Using conductive paint to paint large squares on the foam board to make keys. The touch board allows for 12 sounds/notes. As you see in the picture, we made big squares so we used two boards.
Using copper tape or conductive paint (I prefer tape b/c it isn’t as finicky as paint), connect your squares/keys to the other side of the board. In the picture above, you can see the lines leading from the squares to the edge of the other side of the board. You can use tape instead of paint for the lines.
Follow the instructions in the packaging to add sounds to the touch board. It’s very easy. We used zapsplat.com to get free sound effects/notes.
Put the touch board directly on the board and use tape to adhere it better. I found it easier to use copper tape to attach the touch board to the foam board. The picture below shows the tape on top of the touch board.
You can make other instruments the same way just download different notes.
You can also put the piano on the floor and let patrons step on it in their socks.
If you can only afford one touch board, you can use the the same touch board for different instruments b/c the board provides 12 sounds. Simply put all the instruments on the same board or tape several boards together. You can draw lines with paint or tapes to the touch board. See all my lines with the picture below. (This is our interactive mural. Click here to see the video.
To make art/comic:
Ask the teens to draw something that has a lot of sound. We used an example of beach scene or a house.
The touch board holds twelve sounds. If you have one board/teen that’s great but if you only have one board for multiple teens, divide the sounds among them. For example, we had six teens and three touch boards so each teen could have an art piece that could have six sounds.
Have the teens decide what sounds they are going to incorporate before they begin drawing.
Have teens draw their picture and draw their circuit lines. The lines should extend to the border of the paper.
Use conductive paint or copper tape to cover their hand drawn circuit lines. We used conductive paint. The advantage to copper tape is no drying time and it’s less finicky.
Use alligator clips the attach conductive lines to the touch board. This way, more teens can use the same board.
If the video below, you can see that we made interactive art on our wall. If you have a teen room and can paint on the wall, go for it.