Showing posts from 2017

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…

Solar System in Motion at Preschool Storytime

At my last preschool storytime we did a Moon theme, because of the upcoming eclipse. I found a lot of great ideas from Johnson County Library.  One of the cutest ideas they gave me turned out to be this activity acting out the solar system and singing about it. I caught it on video:

(tune: Farmer in the Dell)

The Earth turns around, the Earth turns around,
Once a day, every day, the Earth turns around.

The moon goes round the Earth, The moon goes round the Earth,
Once a month, every month,The moon goes round the Earth.

The Earth goes round the Sun, the Earth goes round the Sun,
Once a year, every year, The Earth goes round the Sun.

The stars are all around, The stars are all around,
Here to there, and everywhere, The stars are all around

My library is working on putting together at least 20 STEAM storytime themes and I can add this one to the mix. If your library has done any storytimes that have been really STEAM-related, please share!

Building Coding Skills with Robots and Monsters

Coming up on Tuesday, June 13th from 2-3:30 pm, the Pasadena Public Library will have our next Tablets and Tech program at the Central Library on our 4th floor. Kids will move around different iPad stations exploring a wide range of apps that incorporate accessories for tangible play. Kids will be using the passport below to assist them in taking turns to explore each app.  Many of the apps have educational benefits for kids. Here I want to share the ones that focus especially on coding. Osmo Games – Osmo Game Systems use a mirror placed over the iPad’s camera to direct the iPad to process anything you do in front of it. Osmo Coding: Awby, a cute little monster who loves strawberries, needs your help to walk through the woods and get from one point to another. Using coding tiles in front of the iPad, tell him how many steps to go, when to turn, and develop a path that will get him the most yummy fruit!

Wonder Workshop – Wonder Workshop…

Make a Wind Generator

On May 19, 2017, kids came to the Pasadena Public Library to make wind turbines that would generate electricity by turning the shaft of a hobby motor. We were inspired by a project we found at The goal was to use the motors in reverse--instead of the electricity making the shaft turn, the turning would make electricity! We hoped to produce enough energy to light an LED bulb attached to the motor. It didn't work out that way, but we still made a great science lesson of it. I provided several different motors, but every time I tested them myself, I could not get the LED light bulb to come on. One kind of motor I got at Fry's was just too strong to turn in the wind. It probably would have needed blades several feet long and a floor fan wasn't going to produce enough wind. The other kind turned easily, but didn't generate quite enough voltage. (One of the kids accurately noted: "Don't you need more energy to oper…