Posts

Roller Coaster Ski Jumps

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I'm trying to catch up on my blogging... Back in summer, as part of our STEAM 2018 year of STEAM programming, we did a fun engineering project making roller coaster ski jumps out of pipe insulators for marbles to "ski" down! I've been meaning to share the photos and videos and finally had time today.

Here are the supplies I got:

Pipe insulators

Marbles

Masking Tape

I had to cut the pipe insulators in half, and did that from home. So you also need a strong knife, like for cutting meat but maybe sturdier than that.

Then you have the kids get in groups of 3 or 4 and give each group of kids some insulator tubes and tape and some props and have them go to town! Each group will need a large space to work in, and one pitfall was kids trying to build their roller coasters around the other groups. That got hard sometimes, and they're kids, so they had difficulty navigating that in a polite way sometimes. I really wish I had provided more simple props like chairs and …

Scratch Cards for Teaching Basic Animation

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Right now we're doing a four-week class on making animations with Scratch. Last week, we introduced the kids to the Scratch interface and some of the key blocks they would need. They animated a simple sprite that had multiple costumes already built. One of the challenges of doing a program like Scratch coding is that if you have the kids code a predetermined project step by step, they may learn more tools but they don't have as much opportunity to think critically or creatively. I used to teach Scratch with tutorials where I told the kids, step by step, how to build the code. Now I don't do that as much anymore. Instead, I want the kids to follow a set of instructions but figure out the blocks to use on their own. Kids like individuality. They don't want their project to come out looking exactly like everyone else's. They want options. So I created some cards, inspired by the Scratch Cards on ScratchEd. I gave each kid a challenge, like "Make a Bat Fly,&q…

Archaeology Program: Dig for Ancient Treasures

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Recently one of my colleagues in the Youth Services department, Marie Plug, and one of our pages from Support Services, Luz Mejia-Ramos, put together an amazing science program for kids--an archaeological dig! I'm sharing Marie's blog post about it and reprinting it with her permission. It was such a cool program, giving kids a chance to dig in sand to find "artifacts" like broken pieces of a clay pot, bones from a replica human skeleton, and a replica of a papyrus from Ancient Egypt. But without further ado, I'll let Marie tell you more...

Dig for Ancient Treasures: Archaeology
By Marie Plug

Twenty seven budding archaeologists participated in Pasadena Central Library's first archaeological dig. Fortunately for them our Library has a "resident" archaeologist on staff - Luz Mejia-Ramos. Luz works for the Support Services Department at Central Library but during her time off she travels the world to participate in archaeological digs.

Luz obtaine…

Coding with Ozobots

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Have you considered doing a class with Ozobots, but weren't sure where to begin? You can do an Hour of Code activity with Ozoblockly, starting out with a Square Walk and working up to a robot dance competition. But be sure to have a backup plan in case calibration fails. Check out the Pasadena Public Library Kids Blog and our latest post on our experiences with Ozobots...and the importance of having a Plan B!! http://pasadena-library.net/kids/2018/coding-with-ozobots-kids-coding-club/

Propeller Powered Balloon Helicopters - New and Improved Formula!

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Last week kids came to Pasadena Library to learn about elastic energy and the Law of Conservation of Energy, and then build a helicopter that would rise up in the air at least briefly before coming down. We attached helium balloons to a homemade helicopter that runs on the elastic energy of a twisted-up rubber band, and since the apparatus itself is heavy enough, the whole thing generally floats gently down. (OK, some kids did have to add a weight in order to counteract the extreme lift of the helium.) Kids had a blast making their helicopters, even though it was not an easy project, and required a lot of tinkering and troubleshooting!

I did this program before at Pasadena Public Library, and shared it on my blog a few years ago. I'm sharing this year's experience because I think I learned some things that might have improved the project back then.

I first found the project in 2014 on curiositymachine.org. You may have to subscribe to get access to all their projects but …