Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Programming Update: STEAM Programs

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Similar in nature, STEM focuses on the subjects above without incorporating the arts. STEM and STEAM-based instruction has taken root in the local schools and in fact, Forsyth Central was named a top STEM high school in Georgia in 2013.

The library has worked hard over the last two years to offer more and more STEAM programs to our patrons. All branches currently offer STEAM programs regularly, from STEAM-based book clubs to monthly STEAM programs that focus on a certain theme.

The Sharon Forks Library offers STEAM Reads each month for grades 3-5 and combines STEAM activities with chapter books and stories. The Cumming Library also recently launched STEAM Rollers, which features crafts, activities, and discussion based on a book and meets once a month with grades 3-5.

February book selections include Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White at Sharon Forks, where participants learned about spiders and engineered webs of their own using supplies such as wire hangers, string, tape, and hula hoops. Cumming’s STEAM Rollers will meet today, February 25, and will discuss Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. This program will focus on art and participants will create paper self-portraits and brainstorm technical ideas for creating a brand new reality TV show, as it relates to the book selection.

The Hampton Park and Post Road branches offer monthly STEAM programs that focus on a variety of themes. This month, Hampton Park presented “Can You Hear Me Now?” and focused on sound. Participants learned about how sound travels, they made their own sound devices, and created sound experiments.

Staff prepared three learning stations for the children, including Humming Hangers, where children used strings attached to metal hangers to help the sound travel through the string and directly into their ears. Stephanie Hampson noted that she thought the vibrating hangers sounded a bit like gongs, but the children thought they sounded like church bells, drums, and “beautiful music.”

The Post Road Library also offers monthly STEAM programs for elementary-aged children. This month, they focused on candy with “Sweet, Sweet Science” and conducted a variety of experiments while learning about topics such as nucleation, acids and bases, and density as they relate to candy. For example, they started outside and made Mentos and soda explosions while testing out five types of soda. Click here for an example of Mentos and diet cola, the combination that makes the best geyser of soda. They also experimented with baking soda and vinegar volcanoes and added Pop Rocks to the mix. The kids learned that Pop Rocks pop in our mouths because millions of tiny CO2 bubbles trapped just inside the sugar are released when they get wet in our mouths!

To learn about upcoming STEAM programs at the library, please visit our website or pick up a copy of Beyond the Books at your local library branch.