Do-It-Yourself Program Ideas: Hands-on STEAM for Kids
STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, is currently a dominant theme in education. Libraries can hold entertaining STEAM programming, offering many different experiences for a wide age group. Here are some ideas you can adapt to a library of your size:
Several games and crafts can be set up in the library’s outdoor area for this program. Each table should have at least 2 high school volunteers to run the activity at that station. If you run out of materials at a station, close it.
Community groups that could be partners: High school service clubs could be helpful in providing teen volunteers to run the various stations.
Refreshments of fruit slices and water could be provided.
Icebreaker activity: Dress in your lab coat, and open with a few fun picture books that introduce concepts of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. For example:
- Lujan, Jorge. Groundwood, 2014.
- Beaty, Andrea. Rosie Revere, Engineer. Abrams, 2013.
Science Crafts, Games, and Activities:
Make paper airplanes using instructions from books at the library or here: www.paperairplaneshq.com/easy-paper-airplane-designs.html
Rocket Balloon Race: Learn about Newton’s Third Law of Motion by making rocket balloons, and then race them: www.sciencebob.com/experiments/balloonrocket.php
Fruit Batteries: See who can light up their light bulb first, using a citrus fruit as a battery: http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/a/fruitbattery.htm
Technology Crafts, Games, and Activities:
Simon Game: A fun and easy way to help younger children learn to use technology is to play with the Simon light game. Borrow the game from staff and volunteers (many families own this game). Provide new batteries for each game.
Tumblebooks and BookFlix Learning Station: Many public libraries provide the Tumblebooks or BookFlix online children’s book collections, free to their cardholders using the Internet. Set up a station with two computers showing these two paid databases, to demonstrate how easy they are to use.
Angry Birds Hands-On Game: Make the hands-on version of this popular videogame, using boxes and stuffed animals: http://showmelibrarian.blogspot.com/2013/02/angry-birds-steam-program-for-brave.html.
Engineering Crafts, Games, and Activities:
Marble Run: Using cardboard tubes, duct tape, and other common household items, build this cool marble run and have a race: http://showmelibrarian.blogspot.com/2013/04/guest-post-marble-run-mania-steam.html
Marshmallow Engineering: Make these awesome marshmallow towers out of mini-marshmallows and toothpicks: www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2014/03/marshmallow-engineering-a-school-age-steam-program/
Viking Catapults: Catapults are a fun and easy engineering project, with the added element of a history lesson. Make this simple catapult with bamboo skewers, rubber bands, and other recyclables. Then, have a contest to see who can shoot their dried beans the farthest! http://makeitatyourlibrary.org/outside-play/diy-viking-catapult-bamboo-skewers#.VKCohncO4eA
Arts Crafts, Games, and Activities:
Alien Craft: Make this cool Alien craft out of recyclables: http://showmelibrarian.blogspot.com/2012/09/art-aliens-invade-or-how-craft-program.html
Hedgehogs: Make these fun hedgehogs out of discarded paperback books: www.instructables.com/id/A-decoration-which-pricks-/
Woven Paper Baskets: For older children who might find the Hedgehog craft too easy, make these woven paper baskets out of newspaper, old wallpaper (obtain donations), or leftover wrapping paper: http://makeitatyourlibrary.org/living/woven-paper-basket#.VKCng3cO4eA
Math Crafts, Games, and Activities:
Math Scrabble: Before the program, make two or three Math Scrabble board games by converting old Scrabble games (purchased at thrift stores or yard sales) : www.instructables.com/id/Number-Scrabble-The-Game-aka-Math-Scrabble/ . At the program, set out these Math Scrabble games and let participants play the game.
Short Path Games: Make these fun and easy board games out of construction paper, stickers, and other materials you already have on hand. Here are the instructions: http://librarymakers.blogspot.com/2014/10/wonderworks-short-path-games.html#more
Tangrams: Tangrams combine art with math shapes. Print out the patterns seen here, as well as ideas for various items you can construct out of tangrams: www.activityvillage.co.uk/tangrams
Penny Peck, SJSU iSchool