Last month I started a new program at my library to try and incorporate more STEM, and just in time for the CLSP summer reading program: FIZZ BOOM READ!
Now, full disclosure, Science and Math were my least favorite classes in high school and college. The idea of doing something with either of these two subjects is daunting, it’s scary, and quite frankly I just ignored STEM for as long as I could. I was and English major in college, for goodness sakes! I still use my fingers to count! A lever/pulley system is pretty much rocket science to me! My brother is the engineer in the family, not me (seriously, talk about sibling differences…he’s also good with his money)! There are other things I’m good at, I can leave that hard stuff to other people.
But, now I’m the only person at my library for ages 0-18 and I can no longer hide from Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math.
Okay, so it’s not that bad. At the NH children’s librarian conference in OCT (I went to only after being in my current job for 2 weeks) we had a panel about STEM and it really helped me to get over that first obstacle. One of the panelist’s had us think about what we ARE good at. Something we already know and can teach. And design a program based on that.
WHEW! I DO NOT HAVE TO LEARN ROCKET SCIENCE AND/OR QUANTUM PHYSICS.
I can do stuff I already know. Stuff that isn’t actually that hard.
I can start small. It’s okay.
And it’s okay if I fail! It’s okay if kids, or parents have to correct me. That’s great! It means they are paying attention AND I learn something new!
(just last week in storytime I made my clock wrong (I was short on time when making it!) and so it read 12:10, 12:20, 12:30, instead of 1:00, 2:00, 3:00. Talk about embarrass! But the parents corrected me. And laughed. We laughed together. They weren’t laughing at me. That much.)
So, after that I started toying with the idea of hosting some pre-school STEM sessions. So far I have had two sessions. And maybe no one has showed up yet but someday they will! And I will be prepared!
And so was born: Pre-School Explorers!
One thing I wanted my STEM programs to have was parent & child interaction. So, I set it up as different stations that parents and their pre-schooler can go through together. BUT BEFORE THAT I explain to everyone what our theme is, read a short story that goes with the theme, and give an early literacy tip that is aimed towards pre-schoolers. Sometimes we may do a short group activity. Then the rest is parent time! This way, I don’t even get very many opportunities to be wrong and embarrassed! It’s great!
The hardest part is setting up the materials and making everything for each individual station. I’ve been keeping it at 4-6 stations per theme, with materials enough for two groups per station. (This may have to be more for you though, I am in a small town).
SO, I wrote this post to show that even if Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math seem like these big scary things that are totally out of your comfort zone, it’s okay. The only way we can grow and get better is to tiptoe out of our comfort zones once in awhile. You don’t have to do something big and extravagant at first (or ever if you don’t want). You can just talk and teach about what you know and that’s is also okay!
ALSO YOU ARE NOT IN THIS ALONE. Seriously, try google searching “library stem programs”. SO MANY OPTIONS. SO MANY LIBRARIANS.
There are lists and resources available to librarians that it was almost a little overwhelming to look at them all! Instead of creating yet another list here are some of my favorite starting points:
How are you incorporating STEM? What are your favorite resources? Tell me things!
**(edit only 10 minutes after publish: I know that STEAM is the new STEM buuuuuuut the A (arts) doesn’t scare me like the S, T, E, & M)**
@theemegnificent STEAM is the new STEM…don’t forget the arts
— Casey Ince (@RedOrRead) January 28, 2014