Incorporating STEM into Your Library and Teen Tech Week

STEM -- Science, Technology, Education, and Math -- is the latest buzzword in education. How does your library incorporate STEM into its offerings? What are some ideas for using Teen Tech Week to highlight your library's STEM resources?

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The first thing that comes to mind for me is to talk about our databases.  Teen patrons are usually happy to see that there is another way to use their library other than trying to get that ONE book that is relevant to their research subject!

I teach English part-time at a local college, and one of the things I learned to stress to students from teaching information literacy skills is that the databases will automatically cite their research in whatever format they are required to cite the source in (ex: MLA, Chicago, ALA). After I tell them this part, their eyes shift from being glossed over to being bright and perky. They hate citing sources and this really offers them a good solution to the problem, even if the databases take longer to access then web search engines.

When I did my Technology Garden idea, the first thing I wanted to ensure was that I offered something for every discipline. So I looked for apps and sites that would offer up a real choice. I ended up with some math-related things like the TanZen Lite app and the KhanAcademy.org site (also good for some science), and I covered science with the iPad app Science360, Exploratorium.edu, and Geo-cube.eu. All of the apps and sites were educational, but I rounded things out with Tagxedo.com (pulls webpages and does Internet searches by topic to populate a word cloud), Storybird.com, PicLits.com, the Timbuktu iPad magazine app, and the Sgraffito scratch-art app, with Mad Libs thrown in, just for fun.

We have started incorporating STEM by offering some special events programming in cooperation with museums.  While that may not be an option for everyone, I budgeted funds to have the Houston Museum of Natural Science visit with their dome and Earth Science on Wheels programs during this year's summer reading programs.

For Teen Tech Week, I am doing an activity scavenger hunt.  One of the activities is creating a podcast. 

My city’s Visitors Bureau started a city-wide event called “Homeschool Week” last year. They got all different kinds of local organizations to host programs specifically for homeschooled and online K-12 students in order to bring in tourism. We joined up with them and had some interesting success! We decided to create a Science/Technology program during this week and conduct it almost like a small convention. Last year we had students of all ages learn how to create video games on Sploder.com; make bouncy balls; design t-shirts with bleach pens, bleach spray & tape, and spray paint; mold clay around a flashdrive for a steampunk look; and see who could create the farthest flying airplane. We’re going to run it again this year with a Maker theme. It was great to target this community with these types of activities, because homeschooled students were able to dive into STEM learning with peers that they usually didn’t get to spend much time with.

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Encourages teens to visit the library to use all of the great digital resources offered to make a change in their life and community. #TTW17

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