STEAM Librarian

STEAM programming for children

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Roblox Studio: Library Programming

So, there’s this little game called Roblox that our kids go bananas over. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it is a multiplayer online game that can be played on a computer or tablet. Within Roblox, there are tons of different styled games with different objectives within the Roblox site.

To play, users must fill out a quick account login of a username, password, age and gender. The good news is that if the kid forgets their username or password, it’s super easy to create a new account since there’s no email attached to the account. The bad news is that there are over a million users and the kid will have to be create with creating a username. Plus, it’s free!

Now here are some of the concerns with Roblox:

  • Violence. Like legit shooting games with blood and gore. These games make us librarians weary so of course, these are the favorite games among tweens and teens. As far as I know (in my limited computer knowledge), there’s no way to block just the shooting games without blocking the whole site.
  • Chatting and Bullying. So on the game, the users can “friend” total strangers if both parties approve. And whenever there are competitive games and high emotions, the smack talk between users intensifies. Plus, without verification of the users, how do you know that “username”7  (I made this up and didn’t check- if this is your USN, I apologize) is really a 7 year old from Texas and not a 55 year old in Long Island.
    • So not to scare you about this bit, but parents should be aware. There are lots of settings within Roblox with reporting and blocking if bullying/ stalking occurs and everyone should be aware that this is a possibility.

So, a change of note. I do consider myself a gamer and love using computer games for positive educational aspects. Roblox can be used to encourage team building by have the kiddos play on teams against each other and work together on an objective. I also love, of course, the STEAM aspect of Roblox.

Any person that has a Roblox account, also has a Roblox Studio account. Roblox Studio is an application that you can download and create and design your own game.


(My computer background is a large Minecraft project I worked on last year)

So, I ran a program aimed at Tweens where we could, as a group, design our own game. I wanted to create and edit the game as a group. I gave 2 rules- don’t mess up what someone else has made and no weapons.

Here are the steps that I followed before/ during the program:

  1. I created a Roblox account and downloaded Roblox and Roblox Studio to my computer.
  2. I created a basic game called TestLibrary on Roblox Studio and published it to Roblox.
  3. I walked around in our computer lab and helped everyone friend me on Roblox through the browser (it gets confusing at a point since some of the work is down on the browser, some in the Roblox Studio downloaded application and the playing takes place in a separate Roblox application- all of which you have to log into)
  4. I had to go in to Roblox Studio and add all of my friends one by one so that they could be allowed to edit the game as well. Then they had to open the game in Roblox Studio and were all able to make edits at the same time.

Some issues:

  • Even though I had advertised that we would be building a game, some of my attendees thought we were just playing games and loudly stated they wanted to just play. Also one of my attendees left because it was too advanced.
  • Logins were forgotten quickly- my coworker ran and grabbed some pens and paper to help.
  • The design is very similar to CAD- it takes some practice to think in more than 2 dimensions on the computer.
  • While I love playing games, I’m relatively new to Roblox. One of the kiddos flooded the game and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it right there so we all ended up playing games anyway.

I’m trying the program again in a couple of weeks and hopefully all will go well.



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Solar Eclipse Came and Went

It was the solar eclipse of the heeeeaaarrrttttt! (Sorry Bonnie Tyler)

In case you didn’t know, the US had a solar eclipse and it. was. awesome. I wasn’t around for the last total eclipse (hint to my age) and I think I was looking towards it more than some of my kids here.

In honor of the solar eclipse, I had a Solar Eclipse program in my Elementary Explorers group- a STEM series aimed at 3-5th graders. IMG_4330

[Here are the 4 sample pinhole viewers that I made out of a box, cereal box, paper towel roll and cardstock sheets. Handouts are from NASA and Science Museum of VA]

I always like to start my EE programs with an open question…. “what is a solar eclipse?” That way I can find out from my kiddos where they are in their science learning, plus I love hearing their own interpretations of science.

This was a great program to include some vocabulary: total eclipse, partial eclipse, annular eclipse, umbra, penumbra, corona,etc.

I played two videos: I loved this one that Vox made (although I wish it was slowed down a bit since there were lots of interesting tidbits that were just rushed through that I had to repeat) and of course, I have to show something from my fave science guru, Bill Nye.

Now, the penultimate moment of class, I had three volunteers and we had a live action role play of what happens during an eclipse. I had a sun, moon and earth line up. We discussed the difference between rotation (spinning on an axis) and revolution (moving around another body- earth and sun). We discussed what it looks like to spin on an axis- that allowed a giggle from the kids when I had my volunteer lean and spin. I also asked if the sun rotates- IT DOES- but differently than Earth and other planets. Then when I had my moon volunteer trying to revolve around my Earth volunteer all while revolving around the Sun volunteer was pretty hilarious and allowed the parents to whip out their cell phones to record (and I was even kind and didn’t have them rotate while trying to revolve- celestial bodies are so coordinated!) We stopped in a line to show the difference between a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse. I was also able to point out why total eclipse happens in some places and not the whole planet by having the moon point as her shadow and aimed at Earth’s forehead which I declared where the US is located on a map.

So, after all that fun, we made easy pinhole paper towel roll solar eclipse viewers that I found from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. I was also lucky enough to hand out one pair of glasses to each family there which were highly sought after.

Then, we all got to go outside and learn how to use the viewers.


[My new favorite photo of me]



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Book Review


I’ve recently read Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser and I loved it! This is a Teen Nonfiction/ Memoir/ Technology about two girls, Andy and Sophie who met in Girls Who Code Camp in NY and created an amazing game Tampon Run. I had walked back and forth in front of this book for weeks unable to decide if I wanted to read it until my coworker pulled it off the New Shelf and told me that she thought of me when she saw it, so I just had to read it.

As a gamer and feminist myself, I hate to admit that I didn’t know of this game until I read the book. So the game, Tampon Run, the player is a girl who is running down the street and when bad guys come her way, she throws tampons at them instead of shooting guns. I love the added commentary that it is more acceptable for games to show blood and gore from bullets and bombs, but it’s taboo to discuss blood from menstruation.

What I also loved about this book was the glimpse into the technology world that they experienced. I’ve been a maker, techie, and lover of technology for years but haven’t seen the “Big Business” side of some of the players in the digital industry. My own father is a computer programmer, but he “rents” himself out to companies to work on projects to help the management of their data (he briefly worked with Wendy’s HQ and I always had to giggle when I asked how many Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers he ate while on that project- because I would.) I especially loved seeing not only teens being shown the potential profession of working in digital business but also GIRLS! So much of the information technology field is filled with men, that we need as many ladies as possible to get out there and express their coding skills. That’s why I love my position of being a librarian since I can direct the future work force into this direction, but part of me is kicking myself for not trying or knowing to look into Computer Science in college.

This was a great book to supplement my research for my Coding Club next year. I’m super excited to get that off the ground and encourage my library kids to not just play Minecraft or Roblox but learn the science behind what we’re all telling the computers to do. This book includes coding information in the back if you want to take a look at some of their code!


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Preschool Storytime- Nighttime Sky- STEM Extension


Greetings! I’m starting off this blog with a storytime that I ran this week. A lot of the activities were designed by my coworker so I can’t take the credit for everything.

At our library, we’re starting to incorporate STEM extensions into our preschool storytimes, which means the storytime is shortened then we add science activities at the end that tie into the theme.


Opening: I keep the same opening each session. This session I’ve been starting with Two Little Feet.

Two little feet go tap, tap, tap

Two little hands go clap, clap, clap

Two little feet go jump, jump, jump

Two little hands go thump, thump, thump

One little body turns round and round

And we all sit quietly down…


Action Rhyme: Stars

At night I see the twinkling stars

(fists up and open over your head)

And a great big smiling moon

(circle arms overhead)

Mommy tucks me into bed

(lay pointer of one hand across palm of other hand)

And sings a goodnight tune

(rock hands back and forth)


Book one: The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson

A beautiful poem that is accented with lovely artwork by Tracey Campbell Pearson. I like to read at the end that the poem was written in 1885, which was a really, REALLY, long time ago.

Action Dance: Shake Your Sillies Out- Raffi

Then I also feature a letter of the day and this week’s letter was “N” for nighttime. I trace the foam letter with my finger and ask the kids if they can think of any other words that start with the letter “N”. After throwing out some words, I show them where “N” lives in the alphabet and we sing the ABC Song together.

Action Rhyme: Hey Diddle, Diddle

Hey diddle, diddle, the cat in the fiddle

(pretend to play fiddle)

The cow jumped over the moon

(make an arc with one hand)

The little dog laughed to see such sport

(mimic laughing)

And the dish ran away with the spoon

(run fingers up arm)

Book Two: Gravity by Jason Chin

I love this book to explain to young kids what this obstract notion of “gravity” is. It’s a pretty short book to go through and it has some beautiful artwork. I started the story off by knocking a book off of the table for a real life demonstration of what gravity is.

Action Rhyme: Climb Aboard a Spaceship

Climb aboard a spaceship,

We’re going to the moon.

Hurry and get ready,

we’re going to blast off soon.

Put on your helmets,

And buckle up real tight.

Here comes the countdown,

Let’s count with all our might!

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 BLAST OFF!

This was so much fun. I had all the kids (and parents) stand up with me as we climbed into a spaceship. After the countdown at the end, I had all the kids “fly” around the room in their “spaceships.”

Book Three- Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson

This book ran a little long and I went over the time I was aiming. That’s one of the downfalls of getting super excited about a kid’s program. Matheson’s books are wonderful and every kid always wants to do the action on the page, but near the end I take over the tapping and rubbing of pictures.


I played Laurie Berkner’s Moon Moon Moon  from Laurie Berkner Lullabies. After the song ended and the kids were still distracted by the bubbles, I talked to the adults about the importance of cutting skills. I covered the connection with cutting skills to early literacy and gave them a fancy vocabulary terms of “bilateral coordination”

Then we got ready for the activity.

So we made a scene of a rocket ship shooting to the moon made out of a cut coffee filter. The kids were also encouraged to work on their writing skills and draw an “N” and put a star on all the points.


Also (not pictured) we had paper towel rolls with muffin foils taped on top. My coworker then poked wholes in the foil in a design. So we showed the adults how to turn on the flashlight on their smartphone and when the light was shined into the roll, the child could identify the letter or see a star constellation on our wall.