Friday, July 5, 2013

STEM Storytime Extenders: A conversation with the Preschool Services Discussion Group at #ala2013

When Sue McCleaf Nespeca asked me to lead a conversation on STEM in storytime for the Preschool Services Discussion Group at ALA Annual in Chicago, I knew I wanted to accomplish two things: 1) I wanted to share the diversity of options libraries have when it comes to incorporating STEM into preschool services, from small modifications of existing programs to creation of new programs; and 2) I wanted to leave ample opportunity for open discussion and idea-sharing.

Now that this discussion has taken place, I am going to assert that I thought the whole thing successful. I left with many new ideas from colleagues across the country, and to me, that's the sign of a great program or conversation--I leave with concrete takeaways. The group discussion offered a number of terrific ideas and resources:
  • Looking for a play-based program model with great STEM potential? Look to the MAP program--for Messy Active Play--at the Suffolk County Libraries on Long Island.
  • Want to partner with organizations or get grand funding for STEM activities? Suggestions shared include making contact with your state's agricultural school extension and seeking grant funding for gardening through Katie's Krops.
  • Curious about some go-to resources for planning or storytime sharing? Attendees shared a number of titles and publishers:
  • What about options for passive STEM programming? Participants shared two stellar ideas that I hadn't thought to mention, although my library does them:
    • STEM Observation Stations -- get an ant farm, worm farm, root farm, butterfly garden, terrarium, plant of some kind, carnation in colored water, etc., and let kids observe it and how it changes whenever they're in the library
    • Take-Home Story Time Kits on STEM themes -- make it easy for caregivers to pick up a pre-bundled set of materials on a STEM topic; details on how my library does these kits here

Many discussion group attendees also raved about the previous day's program, "What's Hot in STEAM Education: How Using ECRR2 Supports Literacy, Common Core and School Success." I was bummed to have to miss the program due to a meeting conflict, but I was happy to hear all program materials will be shared on the ECRR Ning. Hooray for sharing resources!

I'll finish off this recap post with my slides, which go with the handout I had for the discussion group meeting. If you have any questions at all, about this particular discussion or STEM/STEAM in general, don't hesitate to ask. Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas and expertise with the group in Chicago.


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