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Libraries and Halloween STEAM

Libraries across the country are celebrating Halloween with spooky stories, devilish decorations, and clever costumes. Some are even adding an educational twist to the festivities through the use of enriching Halloween STEAM activities.

A handsome young scientist delighted with gooey green slime.

A handsome young scientist delighted with gooey green slime. [Photo Courtesy of Children’s Librarian Jennifer Boyce, Fairview Branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

What is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym that stands for the integration of an A for the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. STEAM activities help equip kids with essential 21st-century skills that will help prepare them for the job market. The creative arts component — the “A” — in STEAM activities can engage students and spark interest in science and technology. STEAM is especially useful for helping students develop skills that are necessary to prepare for creative industries, including digital games, software, design, and marketing. However, research reveals the importance for all employees, not just those in creative industries, to demonstrate creativity in the workforce.

Libraries to Inspire You

Are you working on a STEAM Halloween project and need a little inspiration? The libraries below caught our attention for adding STEAM to their Halloween.

Champaign Public Library:

Today (October 26), middle school and high school kids will be creating 3D pumpkins from 3:00 to 5:00 at the main library. Sarah Butt, the library associate we contacted at the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois, explained that she created a pumpkin template in a program called Sculptris. The kids are then able to use the tools and create faces for their pumpkins. Once they are finished, the files can be printed on the 3D printer and ready for the kids from the middle school next door to pick up.

Sculptris Pumpkin Template at Champaign Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Sarah Butt, Library Associate]

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STEAM 3D Printed Pumpkin at Champaign Public Library [Photo Courtesy of Sarah Butt, Library Associate]

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL):

SMPL (Yes, the very same library we blogged about that has a summer beach library!) is also holding STEAM events at their Ocean Park and Fairview branches.

Ewok Launcher (marshmallow launcher)

Ewok Launcher (marshmallow launcher) [Photo courtesy of Youth Librarian Julia Casas, Ocean Park branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

Also today, in connection with Star Wars Reads, SMPL’s Ocean Park branch is holding a Star Wars STEAM program from 3:30 to 4:30 for kids and teens. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes at the event.

Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite STEAM activity

Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite STEAM Activity [Photo courtesy of Youth Librarian Julia Casas, Ocean Park branch, Santa Monica Public Library]

Youth librarian Julia Casas, who is coordinating the event, has planned several activity stations that will give kids the chance to explore science concepts at their own pace. Among the activities are an “Ewok Launcher” (marshmallow launcher), which helps kids to learn about force, motion and gravity, and a “Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite” (lego minifigs trapped inside a baking soda mixture), which explores chemical reactions.

Children’s librarian Jennifer Boyce let us know that on October 31, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Fairview Branch will be featuring a program, “STEAM Craft: Glow-in-the-Dark Slime,” for children ages four and up. According to Ms. Boyce, the program will explore science concepts (in this case, chemistry) in a “fun, unstructured way.” Fairview’s Halloween STEAM event is part of their monthly STEAM programs, which in the past have included events such as a DIY Girls Club that focused on creative electronics and a “Build with Minecraft” program.

North Mankato Taylor Library:

north-mankato-halloween-steam

2016 Halloween STEAM event [Photo courtesy of Children’s Librarian Michelle Zimmermann, North Mankato Taylor Library]

Children’s librarian Michelle Zimmermann of North Mankato Taylor Library in North Mankato, Minnesota, hosted a spooky science lab for their Halloween STEAM event, which was held on October 20th. The event, for ages eight to 12, was part of a monthly program, STEAM Rollers.

The mad scientists — some of whom had an evil laugh down perfectly — learned how sound is made with vibrations by making eerie sound devices with plastic cups, yarn, paper clips and water. They also made slime to learn about chemical and physical properties and examined how using different ratios changed the composition of the material they were making. The third activity involved making pumpkin lava lamps and dealt with the concepts of polar and non polar molecules. Kids also learned about how oil and water don’t mix. According to Ms. Zimmermann, the lava lamps seemed to make the biggest impression on the young scientists.

 


More Halloween STEAM Activities

Still looking for inspiration? Below are five spooktacular links you can use to incorporate STEAM into your Halloween event:

Special Guest Post

And be sure to check back tomorrow for another wicked STEAM/STEM post with featured blogger Dawn Treude. The Library Assistant in Youth Services will explore the Halloween activities at the Scottsdale Public Library. She will be discussing how to create science-based projects by using everyday items with a spooky theme.

Tweet Us!

If you’ve implemented a Halloween STEAM activity in your classroom or library, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

Libraries and Summer Fun

Surfside Library Pop-Up

Santa Monica Public Library at the Beach 2015, Santa Monica, California (Photo used with permission by Jeff Kaplan, Reference Services Librarian, Santa Monica Public Library)

BOOKS ON THE BEACH

About a year ago, I read a Fast Company blog post about a gorgeous pop-up library on a beach in Istres, a town in the South of France. I live in Florida and spend practically every single weekend at my local beach, and I’m a bibliophile to boot, so the idea of a library on the beach thrilled me. I wondered if such a library existed in my part of the world.

Curious, I googled pop-up beach libraries in the U.S. and discovered that, yes, they do exist, just not (at least, at this point) near me.

Hula Hoop Fun at SMPL at the Beach 2015

Hula Hoop fun at the Santa Monica Pop-Up Library in 2015 (Photo used with permission by Jeff Kaplan, Reference Services Librarian at the Santa Monica Public Library.)

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) is one such library that offers books on the beach. I contacted the library and heard back from Reference Services librarian, Jeff Kaplan, who said he had read the very same blog post about the French beachside library. In fact, the post inspired him to pitch the idea to his library’s Director, Maria Carpenter, who approved the idea to create a series of library pop-ups at their local beaches.

Mr. Kaplan gave me some background information on SMPL at the Beach, which debuted last summer and was a huge success (they had four 12×12 canopies serving over 500 visitors, including 151 participants in their beach programs). According to Mr. Kaplan, they strove to make their pop-ups  “a ‘beachified’ version of the library, with all its services, programs and collections represented, not just a bunch of books on the beach.” Services even included a Seaside Story Time for children and reference and instruction services with mobile wifi hot spots.

SANTA MONICA LIBRARY GOES BACK TO THE BEACH – SUMMER 2016

I was happy to learn that beginning July 8, SMPL at the Beach 2016 will offer five seaside pop-up libraries with summer fun programming, including ukelele lessons (I am sooo jealous!), fitness  classes, beach games like bocce and ladder toss, music performances and even a Surfside Lounge. The Library Foundation will also be providing free giveaways (beach towels, trucker caps and water bottles).

IOWA LIBRARIES WELCOME RAGBRAI CYCLISTS

July also marks the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and local libraries are prepared for the fun and for doing what they can to make lives easier for the cyclists. I contacted a few librarians at the libraries situated along this year’s bike route (419.9 miles across state’s scenic southern terrain) and the excitement RAGBRAI generates is palpable among them.

Imagination Mural at the Shenandoah Public Library

Brick mural called IMAGINATION by artist Jay Tschetter at the City of Shenandoah Public Library in Shenandoah, Iowa (Photo used with permission by Joy Stortvedt of the Shenandoah Public Library)

Librarian Joy Stortvedt of Shenandoah Public Library said that they are opening their library on Sunday, July 24, even though they are typically closed that day. Cyclists can use the Shenandoah library to cool off, use the bathrooms and charge their devices. Wifi access will also be provided outdoors, and can be accessed, even when the library is closed, from their outdoor amphitheater. They also hope to offer paperbacks, but aren’t yet certain about their stock. Ms. Stortvedt recommends the library’s brick mural by artist Jay Tschetter (see photo above) and a historic arch as excellent photo ops for the cyclists.

1888 Steinway Grand Piano

Rebuilt 1888 Steinway grand piano that will be open for RAGBRAI bikers to play at the Washington Free Public Library (photo used with permission by Debbie Stanton, Library Director at Washington Free Public Library in Washington, Iowa)

Library Director Debbie Stanton of Washington Free Public Library said that their library will be open to the public until 11 p.m. on July 29, the day RAGBRAI comes through their town. She also shared that they are converting their library’s used bookstore room into an entertainer’s lounge, which will provide “backstage” accommodations for their headlining bands, and they are adapting their two janitors’ sinks into showers for the cyclists. They are also providing overnight accommodations for two teams of bikers (about 50 people total) in their meeting rooms and working with a local Internet service provider and an economic development group to provide wifi access points downtown.

Letts Library

Letts Library and Community Room (Photo used with permission by Karen Koppe, Library Director, Letts Library and Community Room, Letts, Iowa)

Library Director Karen Koppe of Letts Public Library let me know that this will be the first time RAGBRAI will go through her small town. She says the library will sell homemade pies and that she has plans to have the kids in town help with making banners, signs and donation buckets for the July 30th event in Letts, which will feature 15 vendors and a DJ.  Ms. Koppe also notes that cyclists might be interested to know that the town has a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient buried in the town’s cemetery.

LIBRARY GARDENS

Insect Hotel

Insect Hotel at the LibraryFarm at the Northern Onondaga Public Library, Cicero, NY (Photo used with permission by Jill Youngs, Branch Manager, Northern Onondaga Public Library at Cicero, NY)

Not only do libraries help plant seeds of knowledge, but some also offer real-life garden plots! The LibraryFarm is one such garden. Located on the grounds of the Northern Onondaga Public Library at Cicero, New York, the LibraryFarm is an organic community garden that donates to three local pantries and offers regular programming dedicated to sustainable gardening and food literacy. Programs range from home solarization to backyard chickens. The garden also includes a neat insect hotel that was constructed out of discarded shipping pallets by the library’s maker club. If you can’t get away for the summer, a community garden is a nice way to relax after a day of work. Check out your community to see if the library or another organization offers garden plots.

SUMMER-THEMED ITEMS YOU CAN BORROW

You might be reading this and thinking, “Aww, but my library doesn’t have a garden, and I don’t live near Santa Monica, California, or one of the many libraries along this year’s RAGBRAI trail in Iowa.” No worries, fellow bibliophiles, these aren’t the only library summer fun spots. Innovative libraries across the country offer a range of summer programming, from summer reading challenges for children and adults (such as the one my local library offers) to puppet shows and more. In addition, many libraries offer summer-themed items you can borrow.

Here are examples of four items you can borrow from some libraries that go hand-in-hand with summer fun:

Bicycles:

Fishing Gear:

GoPro Cameras:

Museum Passes:

Share with Us!

What is your library doing this summer? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us a picture at #ProQuest!