STEM Night – Bouncy Balls

I hold STEM nights once a month at the library.  Usually they activities revolve around science or engineering.  At the moment we don’t have much technology that is geared towards kids at our library but plans for that are in the works so soon I will have more technology based events.  I love the engineering activities because they are open ended and really encourage critically thinking.   STEM nights are a great way to get boys in the library and some of the older elementary aged children as well.  That is sometimes a hard age group to get to attend events but it’s an important one to focus on to bridge the gap between preschool aged kids and teens.

This month we made home made bouncy balls.  This is a simple chemical reaction that creates a really fun product!

How to make a bouncy ball

Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tb Borax
  • 1 Tb Cornstartch
  • 2 Tb White glue
  • Food coloring

Instructions:

  1. In a cup mix the warm water and the borax
  2. In another cup mix the glue, cornstarch, and food coloring
  3. Pour the glue mixture into the water-borax cup
  4. The glue mixture will harden after 10 seconds, use a fork to take it out of the water
  5. Roll the mixture in your hands to make it into the ball.  You will have to need it some to get it to the right consistency.
  6. You’re done! HAVE FUN!

The kids had so much fun throwing their bouncy balls against a wall and playing with this experiment.  If working with younger kids I would have everything pre-measured and ready to go to ensure the class runs smoothly.  Older kids will be able to measure on their own.

Try this in your classroom or library! It’s a great activity!

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Google Cardboard

Last week I came across a pioneer program called Google Expeditions.  Through the program, a representative from Google comes to a school and leads the class through a virtual reality “field trip” using Google Cardboard head sets.  I looked more into the Google Expeditions program and found that, sadly, it is not offered in this area.  Here is the site to see if the program could be offered in your area! https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions/

The Expeditions program got me thinking of how we could try to offer something similar on our own so I ordered a Google Cardboard head set to try it out and see how we could use this fun technology in the library.  The headset is found on Amazon and is very affordable.

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The kit comes as a flat piece of cardboard and is very easily assembled.  To use the headset you have to first download apps.  I quickly found some for free in the app store.

We currently have some high school seniors doing a service project at the library so I had them test out the headset.  Our Circulation Supervisor Kim had to get in on the fun as well.  The apps we used today were RollerCoaster and Cooltour.

While the boys commented the graphics were not that great, over all the Google Cardboard headset was a HUGE hit.  I personally loved the Cooltour app which lets you virtually explore 8 different locations in Europe.  It was my favorite  because it was a real life virtual experience where as the other apps where all graphics.  One major downside to Google Cardboard is it is a virtual reality experience and it does cause some motion sickness, especially if you are sensitive to that.

Now the next step will be to figure out exactly how to use this technology and plan an event around it.

Have you used Google Cardboard in your library? What fun things have you done with it?

Theatre at the Library

From time to time we hire performers to come to the library. This is a real gamble most of the time as you are spending a decent amount of money on shows you usually know little about. Bright Star has been reaching out to us for years and I finally took a chance and booked a show.

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We decided to have their version of Cinderella, Upcycled Cinderella come perform in place of the normal preschool story time slot. In the show the duo Dustmop & Binny are busy cleaning the library when they happen upon our audience and perform the traditional tale of Cinderella using nothing more than their cleaning supplies and a vivid imagination. The performance encouraged teamwork, friendship & creativity. It was quite possibly the best program I have ever booked out. The students were all engaged and loved the show from start to finish. Upcycled Cinderella was wildly popular and brought over 100 children into our Library.

The program was a huge success because we reached out to 2 of the preschools in our area.  Reaching out to preschools is a great way to stay connected with the community!

For more information on Bright Star Theatre Company, visit their website at: http://www.brightstartheatre.com