Year 5 of Summer Reading STEM Programs | What I have learned

The summer of 2020 will feature the fifth hands-on STEM program that I have developed. First was LW Engineering Challenge and Launches and Light was this past summer. It has been so much fun! I have a great time traveling and chatting with librarians. I am such a science dork that whatever topic that I am endlessly repeating never gets old!

Word-of-mouth has helped the word get out so that my schedule was packed last year! It was so full that this year I have asked some teacher friends who live a distance away from me to join in the fun. They are eager to join the fun!

Here are the things I have learned about making a great hands-on STEM library program.

1) Be ready for any age

The best programs are a challenge to a wide range of kids. Some libraries have a great crew of upper elementary kids coming to their programs. Others are swamped by daycares and ignore the age requirements (which are 6+). This years’ program, Engineering Hero! fits the bill. Kid tested fun!

2) Get every kid involved

Every kid wants to do everything. If there is any chance for a kid to remember what was said, they need to be moving and touching the materials. Far too many performers are keeping the kids spectating with only a few engaged kiddos. As a teacher, I’d rather engage ALL of the kids.

3) Tell a story

We are built for storytelling. It is how we learn, pass along wisdom, make sense of the world, and connect with each other. With kids, stories help to make complex ideas simple and memorable. With Engineering Hero! we have a compelling story that includes a growth mindset lesson. I love teaching growth mindset lessons, I hope to include them in each program moving forward.

4) Be flexible with the space needs

Some libraries have nice, open spaces that can be configured in any way. Many of the rural libraries that I have traveled to have no such space. It is very helpful to be extremely flexible with space needs.

5) Make it fun, fast, and easy to understand

Less is more. Kids of all ages are coming and a simple message resonates more than a complex one.

6) Follow the national theme, but not too closely

All of my programs will fit into the CSLP Summer Reading Program Theme, but it will also work as a stand-alone program. Hands-on STEM library programs are where it is at!

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