By Jennifer Mellina
One of the best parts of working in the library is the freedom and flexibility to plan engaging activities for your students. Sometimes that freedom can cause a bit of panic. When we are not beholden to a strict curriculum, where do we turn our focus? Do we make a beeline for SEL, do we integrate ELA, or do we bounce around from idea to idea? Over the last eleven years, I’ve come up with a method that works for my students, faculty, and myself that has its roots in both story and STEM. It gives me the latitude to incorporate other things while allowing opportunities for hands-on learning, coding, creating, and more.
With storytime STEM I always start with a book? What is it that I want to read with my students? What’s made me laugh, made me think, or ties into something that I wanted to talk to my students about. After I choose my book, I scan over my makerspace inventory to see what we can use to go along with that book. For lower grades, that might look like a robot coded to retell the events of the story while upper grades might be using Tinkercad to design something that ties to our book.
For example, in first grade, we recently read the book, “Mae Among the Stars.” After we read, we broke into two center groups. One group focused on building Lego rockets, stars, etc., and the other group coded their Ozobots around the planets while learning space facts. Later this year, fourth grade will read, “Alma and How She Got Her Name.” We will discuss the importance of names and then start a project where they will design a name key chain in Tinkercad. I also really love to do big maker center-themed events. If you’d like to take a look at some of those ideas, feel free to check out this link to my presentation from the GLMA Summer Institute. I think that you’ll find that STEM integration is a perfect fit for media centers, and a perfect complement to our focus on literacy and imagination!