Super Simple STEM Activities for the Library

STEM in the library…boy do I get a lot of requests for posts on this! I absolutely love incorporating STEM activities into the library as well as helping classroom teachers come up with fun STEM ideas. What does STEM stand for in case you don’t already know? STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some may also refer to STEAM which adds in art as well. STEM education has become very popular in schools within the last few years. The reason that STEM education has become so popular is because it pushes students to go beyond the typical school subject curriculum and standards.

STEM education helps teach students how to solve real-world problems and challenges that they could face in today’s world; Hence, preparing students to be successful in their careers. STEM education can start as young as preschool age! Students should always be exploring hands-on activities and problem-solving skills because this is how they learn! With STEM activities incorporated into education, students will in turn be better prepared for “real-life” outside of school.

When I’m teaching STEM education to my students, I like to incorporate these STEM classroom posters to discuss the engineering process with students. We talk a lot about the design/ engineering process of STEM together at the beginning of the year: ask, imagine, plan, create, improve, share.

Benefits of a STEM Eductation

  1. Encourages experimentation
  2. Teaches problem-solving
  3. Builds resilience
  4. Fosters creativity
  5. Encourages technology use
  6. Helps prepare for real world experience

Super Simple STEM Activities

STEM education doesn’t have to be complicated. I have compiled a list of  3 super simple STEM activities for the library for you to check out! Most of these are perfect for elementary-aged students but can be adapted for younger or older students as well. (Note-affiliate links below)

Build a Simple Machine with LEGOs

LEGOs have been around for decades but man have they come a LONG way. You most-likely have a bucket of LEGOs laying around at school that you could very easily use for STEM education in the library. Did you also know that LEGO Education has full-blown lesson plans to go with their Lego kits that are perfect for STEM education? They are even standard-aligned!

The LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential curriculum units are designed around playful narrative-based problem-solving with relatable themes that can help develop young students into independent STEAM thinkers. A lot of these sets involve parts that move and bend, which makes it a lot of fun. Some of these sets can get pricey so I always try to use grant money or Donor’s Choice money to help out. My school also gives me a certain amount of budget money at the beginning of the year and I have built up my collection this way.

Some of my favorites LEGO Education packs are:

Stop Motion Animation with Objects

Stop motion animation is one of my favorite STEM activities because it is simple and hands-on technology that children can achieve. Stop motion animation is a film-making technique that makes inanimate objects appear to move on their own. If you have ever watched Wallace and Gromit  or Gumby then you probably know what I’m talking about. 

Here’s how to make a stop motion animation:

  1. Set up a backdrop. You can use either a wall or 2 pieces of foam board. (Buying this larger pack will allow you to set up multiple stations for groups of students).
  1. Gather some objects for students to use. Use things you already have laying around or beg, borrow and steal from other teachers-any plastic objects or stuffed animals are fine. These figurines and animal sets are fun to use and cheap!
  1. Make sure you have an ipad  for students to use.
  1. See if you have a tripod or stand for students to use. This can be helpful to keep the ipad steady while filming. 
  1. Next you need to make sure you have a stop motion app downloaded on the iPad. I like Stop Motion Studio (it’s FREE but any stop motion animation app will work!).
  1. Next is the fun part- start having students take a picture of an object set-up and then move the objects just slightly over and over to snap more pictures with the iPad. Let them snap anywhere from 2-1000 pictures! Seriously. Watch the magic of movie-making come to life as they have fun with the creativity that this STEM activity brings! FYI-I always do a demo video first to show them how it works!

Best Stop-Motion Short of the Week is a great site to show students simple stop motion videos and get them inspired.

Free Build 

Sometimes I just like to watch kids’ imaginations run wild when the possibilities are endless. At times throughout the year, I incorporate free-build STEM activities into my Library Centers.

Some of my favorite options are:

Check out the book 100 Easy STEAM Activities for many more ideas! 

What are your favorite STEM activities for the library?

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