PALS Writing Group: STEAM-Rolling in the Library | Compendium
Stephanie Bragg

Stephanie Bragg


By Stephanie Bragg,
Children’s Librarian
Paoli Library

The biggest buzzword of the decade in children’s learning is STEM, or STEAM or STREAM, or whichever letters one may choose to represent.  For those who may be unaware, the general concept is learning in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with Art and/or Reading being added to round out the experience. Many of the younger patrons at Paoli Library have been enjoying the different programs that have been offered with STEAM learning integrated throughout the year.

At Paoli Library we decided to take it a step further and extend that STEM learning at home with circulating STEM Kits.  At present we are offering four, soon to be five, unique kits.  Each kit contains a book, DVD, and toy/activity in a particular area.  The kits check out for 2 weeks at a time. I’m sure you have questions about missing pieces and the like.  Since May we have had limited issues with missing pieces.  We have been lucky but the patron is responsible if it’s determined that the item is not able to be used by the next patron.  Over the summer and fall the four kits have gone out approximately 40 times altogether.

To create each kit I chose a topic that fit into STEM and found a toy that demonstrated the principle, like Magna-tiles for magnetism.  Then I found a book and DVD as well.  I am partial to Bill Nye for educational videos. The pieces of the kit are contained in a large to extra-large plastic storage tub. The average cost of each kit is $75.

Our STEM Kits, with contents, are:

  • Beginner’s Coding:
    My First Coding Book by Kiki Prottsman, Scratch Coding Cards, and Code & Go Robot Mouse Game. Recommended Ages 6-12.
  • Electrical Current:
    Electronics for Kids by Oyvind Nydal Dahl, Snap Circuits Jr, and Bill Nye the Science Guy: Electrical Current DVD. Recommended Ages 8-12.
  • Magnetism:
    Magnets Push, Magnets Pull by David A. Adler, Magna-tiles 32pcs, and Bill Nye the Science Guy: Magnetism DVD. Recommended Ages 6-12.
  • Engineering:
    Engineered!: Engineering Design at Work by Shannon Hunt, Gravity Maze falling marble logic game, and Bill Nye the Science Guy: Simple Machines DVD. Recommended Ages 7-12.

After taking home the Beginner’s Coding kit a young patron named Erik, age 6, said “I find the STEM kits so fun! I am always excited to discover what’s inside!” He likes the kits because they’re just fun. While his mother, Ani told me, “The STEM kits that are available for checkout at Paoli Library are a wonderfully engaging and educational resource for budding scientists or any curious youngster. The package is well conceived of activities from different mediums which keeps kids occupied for hours!”

No matter how you put a STEM kit together the idea is to extend learning beyond the book, make it interactive.  And who knows, maybe the grownups will learn something too!