STEAM Team: Make Your Own Electric Quiz!

Last week I visited the Hastings Branch of Pasadena Public Library to present a program to their "STEAM Team," a monthly club they have for kids 9-12 years old. We did a program about electricity called "Make Your Own Electric Quiz." It was so much fun exploring the mathematical principles involved in electrical circuits, such as the inverse ratio relationship between voltage, resistance and current explored by Georg Ohm in the early 19th century. I LOVE anything to do with scientific laws, and we got deep into Ohm's law (I = V/R). Then kids wrote down math questions and answers on post-it notes, placing the post-its next to some brass paper fasteners I had prepped for them on a sheet of cardstock. On the other side, they wound a copper wire from the brass fastener for each question to the brass fastener for its correct answer. To reinforce the things we learned about Ohm's law, I deliberately used a battery source not intended for 5mm LED diodes--a 9V…

Kids' Coding Club: HTML and CSS

On Thursday, March 15, kids came to the Studio on 4th at Pasadena Central Library to learn about HTML and CSS, and build a website that would be an interactive birthday card or greeting for a friend. Most kids did birthday cards but a few had other great ideas, such as a get well card for a sick friend. I've always wanted to do a web design class like this, but eight years ago when I first learned HTML and CSS, there weren't the great teaching tools that we have out there now. I found a lot of great stuff on KhanAcademy but the thing I liked most was the WebLab at which allows you to see your webpage appear simultaneously in a side viewer. It's a great tool for teaching kids how to code! One drawback I experienced was a lack of time. I had a lot of content prepared and could easily have filled a two-hour class with it. We didn't get through much of the CSS in the hour time we had allotted. So we had a file loaded onto our library laptops to give the kids a…

Kids' Coding Club: Coding With Star Wars

Last week was Computer Science Education Week, and to celebrate, Pasadena Public Library hosted our first meeting of the Kids' Coding Club, a monthly afterschool program for kids 8-12 years old to learn about coding and computer science. This club was started by our Virtual Services Librarian, Illyanna Logan, with me and tech specialist Kevin Crain assisting her. We hold this club in our Innovation Lab, formerly the Technology Learning Center, which is being remodeled to be a space that will provide more than just computers but all kinds of STEAM tools! On December 5th, Google just happened to have a Google Doodle that was all about coding, and kids did the activity on Google's homepage as they sat down at the computers. (One kid asked us: "Did you get Google to do that doodle just for your program?" It was cute how innocently he asked it. Yes, kiddo, that's what happened: we just called up the CEO and got him to do us a favor. ;) ) After doing the Google doodl…

Appy Hour at Local Elementary School's GATE Club

On Thursday morning I was a guest at a local school's GATE Club meeting to present some of the apps that we have on our iPads at the library. I brought our collection of 11 iPads with me, along with some handouts and the cable to connect one iPad to their projector. Then I gave kids a quick overview of each app (I chose apps that were STEM-related this time) and allowed the kids to play with the iPads for fifteen minutes before they had to leave for class. Here are the apps we covered: Science Monster Heart Medic - Free - Explores the cardiovascular system and gives you an interactive game helping a monster to achieve a healthier life. iOS, Android, Amazon. Stephen Hawking's Snapshots of the Universe - $1.99 - Explore concepts about gravity, relativity, and how the universe works while playing challenges that stimulate your curiosity to learn more. iOS. NAMOO - Wonders of Plant Life - $3.99 - This stunning and visually engrossing app teaches students about plant biology a…

Epidemiologists: Saving Our Species with Science!

On Monday Oct. 2nd we had a visit from Pasadena's very own dedicated epidemiologist, Matthew Feaster of the Pasadena Public Health Department. He showed us what he does on a typical day, how he responds to reports of illnesses and severe symptoms, and uses math and a lot of interdisciplinary science to determine the cause of the disease. The information he gathers and the reports he creates help our Public Health Department to keep the public informed on how to stay safe, as well as helping them to know where to focus their resources for the prevention of the spread of those diseases.

If any of that went over your head or sounded boring, then I'm doing a bad job of conveying it--because this presentation was NOT boring! Everyone had such a blast and came away having learned a lot in the process. Matthew brought a book he created showing what he does and describing a hypothetical outbreak, and he asked the kids what questions they would ask the patient to determine the cause …

STEAM Themed Crafts for Preschool Storytimes

Right now my library is working on a STEAM grant that we got for 2018, and one of my tasks to help the team is to gather up ideas for STEAM elements to be added to our rotating storyboxes. Storyboxes are bins that get sent weekly from one library branch to another, sharing books, DVDs, CDs, flannelboard sets, song lyrics and craft ideas around a theme. Librarians and techs use the materials in the boxes to put together their storytimes for the week. For 2018, we want our storyboxes to reflect our library's STEAM emphasis. So I'm working on finding ideas that librarians and tech specialists can use when putting their bins together.

Here's what I've got so far:

Seasons, Trees: Make Four Season Trees!

Sound: Paper cup string phone

Nutrition: Healthy Food Hunt and Paper Plate Collage…

Making Penny Batteries

On August 8th, we had a packed story room full of kids 7-12 years old who were here to learn about how electricity works, what kinds of materials conduct electricity, and how to make their own batteries. First, we viewed a slideshow that explained concepts like electric current (the movement of electrons from atom to atom) and the history behind the making of the first battery in 1800 by Alessandro Volta:

Make a penny battery from AnnMarie Ppl

Then I gave everyone an envelope with some squares of matboard (like what artists use as the backing and framing for prints and drawings), an LED diode, and five pennies, two of which I sanded for each child in advance of the class. The kids had to sand two more pennies and leave the 5th penny alone, while letting the squares of matboard soak in some kind of solution.

Why sand the pennies? Because all pennies made after 1982 are made with mostly zinc and just a little bit of copper. Sand the copper off of one side, and you now have the two me…