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.
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.
Our teens love food programs and yours probably do too. For the smoothie smash, we didn’t just follow a recipe, teens created their own recipes thus learning how to properly make a smoothie.
Budget: $35 (Frozen fruit, fresh bananas, milk, yogurt, orange juice, coconut flakes, and flavorings.) We borrowed blenders from staff
Teens sat in groups of two to four and each group received a blender.
They saw a very short slide show on the smoothie making process and how to use a blender.
To make sure they were paying attention, they played a Kahoot game. Kahoot is an online trivia platform where you can create the questions and the teens use the smart devices to log in and play. ALL of our teens LOVE Kahoot and it’s free. If you haven’t used it and you do lots of trivia games, I HIGHLY recommend it.
They were given a recipe for practice and they were given tips as they made it.
They tasted their smoothie and they were asked to evaluate and adjust by adding fruit.
They were then allowed to go to the ingredients table to make their own recipe. They were given recipe cards and had to record the exact measurements-1 cup of yogurt, etc.
They blended their recipe and tweaked it. Once they were satisfied, they wrote a fresh recipe card and named their smoothie.
They poured enough for the entire group to taste test and we then voted.
The winning group received a water infuser cup. All teens received a page of smoothie recipes.
They really enjoyed the program of our course they provided more food program ideas like a soup competition.
We live in a community where teens play A LOT of games but they don’t know much about making them so we decided to create a day long game making bonanza and we called it Challenge Accepted.
Attendance: 84 (6th-12th grades and adults)
Budget: $500 (Game Truck, lunch, dinner, snacks) We shared the cost of the game truck with the youth department. You can save money by only offering snacks.
11am-1pm: Create Your Own Super Mario Bros Level or Minecraft Mod
Teens STILL love Super Mario Bros and we used that to hook them. We used two different programs-Gamestar Mechanic and Pixel Press.
Gamestar Mechanic is done online through a website where teens play levels, similar to the game they are going to design, to acquire characters; obstacle; villains; etc. Teens can go through a tutorial to learn the basics if you are not comfortable teaching game design.
Game Mechanic costs $2/student and you can receive a free trial to test.
The teens really liked Game Mechanic and I highly recommend it.
The app is $2.99 and you can upload it to multiple iPads.
This game has a steeper learning curve than Gamestar and I would say it’s more appropriate for an intermediate gamer/coder.
Tynker is an app that allows gamers to make their own worlds.
Tynker requires a subscription.
You have to have your own Minecraft server which is difficult for a library.
Kano is a arduino that can do the same as Tynker. We used Kano because we already purchased them with grant funds.
You have to purchase Kano kits for $150-$350/ea
Kano provides step by step instructions which is great for librarians who are Minecraft novices.
1pm-3pm: Laser Tag/Game Truck
Game Truck is a big green truck that come to you to lead games. We wanted to do laser tag on the library’s lawn as a energy release from sitting behind a computer all day. It rained that day so we did video games instead. Teens REALLY loves Game Truck even though it’s just gaming in a big truck. I highly recommend it if you have it in your area. You get it for two hours and it costs about $400.
3pm-5:30pm: DIY Board Game and 3D Print your Pawn/Die
Cooperative games are all the rage and I wanted teens to learn how to create their own board game.
I printed a blank game board from Google Images and stapled it to foam board.
I added space for cards like Chance cards from Monopoly.
I included space for title; description; objective; rules; and place to design pawn or die
Teens were divided into groups of three or four.
Each group was given a game board, scratch paper, pencils, and colored pencils.
I allowed between 5-10 minutes for each item
Teens were asked to decide on the description; objective; rules; cards; die design; and title.
Teens were then allowed the rest of the time to create their board game.
One person was designated to design their pawn or die in Tinkercad-3D printing website.
We were able to print one pawn during the program and we told teens to return to pick up their piece.
We will print a pawn or die for each member of the group.
6-8pm: Dungeons and Dragons
We do not know how to play so we asked a staff member to be a dungeon master and to teach the basics of the game. Since libraries are full of nerds, chances are you have a D&D player among your co workers or you can ask one of your teens.
I’ve seen this thread on Facebook several times. Libraries are super excited to have a makerspace or maker activities and they apply for grants. When they receive the grants, library workers are told to purchase maker supplies but the librarian/library worker is new to the maker movement and doesn’t know where to begin. If you’ve asked this question on Facebook or you are developing maker activities and don’t know where to begin, I’m here to assist you.
My library was tasked with developing a makerspace last year and we had to purchase equipment so I’ve been in your shoes. Here’s a breakdown of budget constraints and what to purchase to make the biggest impact. This post will focus on equipment and not craft type making. This post will also focus on equipment appropriate for ages 8 and up.
Tip #1: Avoid consumables. Try to purchase equipment that can be used for months or years and avoid the one and done.
Tip #2: Always consider the number of teens you are serving. Avoid purchasing a robot that only 2 kids can use at once when you are serving 20. You can create centers/stations to accommodate a large group with a small number of equipment.
Tip #3: Consider “In App Purchases.” In other words, when budgeting, consider the cost of consumable supplies. For example, if you are buying 3D pens, you’ll have to continuously buy plastic and it can get expensive.
To get the full education benefits, teens should install the operating system and software. This takes time for staff to learn to be able to teach. This also takes time to do for a program. It’s also a lot of waiting around for it to download.
Once everything is downloaded, it’s basically a comupter. The educational part is the first bullet.
Suggestions-If you do a Raspberry Pi program, try to attract people who are familiar with arduino and not beginners. There’s an arduino that’s good for beginners called Kano and it’s the next bullet.
Kano-$150/ea-For this price, you only get the arduino and keyboard and will have to supply TV screens. $350 will get you a screen but if you only have $500, I wouldn’t suggest getting Kano.
Great for ages 8 and up
Great for beginners and intermediate coders. Advanced teens might get bored.
Kano provides clear step by step set up instructions will little assistance from staff.
Teens can create their own Minecraft mods and use drag and drop to code music, art, and games. All of this is self directed.
If you don’t buy the screen kit for $350, you’ll have to get TV screens.
Teens can assemble the bot in the instructions and once they understand the motors, they can create their own bot.
I suggest assembling the bot before your program because that can take more than one hour.
Violates TIP #2- I’d suggest three teens/bot
Budgets of $5000 +
If you have a $5000 budget, you can purchase anything from the $1000 list. The following list includes more expensive equipment.
3D Printer-$1300-$5000-I’m not an expert of 3D printers so I won’t recommend one. We decided on the Lulzbot after surveying many librarians. We actually have the Lulzbot mini because we had a small budget.
We’ve had it for one year and so far it’s been good. We did have to replace the extruder one time. It does clog sometimes but we’ve always been able to fix it. We are novice 3D printer enthusiasts and we’ve been able to figure it out.
I will recommend Lulzbot products. We use Tinkercad to teach 3D printing and we have teens follow the instruction booklet and they do it with ease.
The filament lasts a long time.
The only potential issue is that our Lulzbot isn’t enclosed but we watch it very carefully and so far teens don’t touch it while it’s going.
Teachergeek.com is a maker company that sells kits and individual pieces to inspire innovation. You can find ideas for science, technology, and especially engineering.
Teacher Geek is great because it’s inexpensive and they provide free curriculum with easy to follow instructions. On first sight the product seems to be geared toward early elementary to middle school but the product can challenge your most advanced makers. For your advanced makers, set out various pieces along with tape; cups; rulers; cardboard; etc and give your makers a directive without instruction.
Another pro is that the possibilities are endless.