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STEAM in the Library: Engaging Children in Learning
An Infopeople Online Learning Course
Course Instructor: Amy Koester
Have you heard your library colleagues talking about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and wondered what it’s all about? Do you wonder what the difference is between STEM and STEAM?* Would you like to know what STEAM for youth looks like in a library setting, and how you can create and offer an engaging STEAM experience to your young customers? STEAM programs and services are a natural extension of the storytimes and school-age events that libraries have been offering for decades, with the added bonus of engaging children in new interests. In fact, many of the programs and resources you already offer at your library can be adapted to become STEAM activities!
This course will prepare youth services staff to:
- Understand what STEAM means for children (preschool-grade 6) in a library setting, as well as how STEAM fits within library goals.
- Address the frequent concern of new STEAM practitioners that we’re not “experts” in STEAM content areas
- Look to existing library programs and resources as a fertile starting place for STEAM activities.
* STEAM has become something of a buzzword in libraries as of late, but that doesn’t mean it’s just a passing trend. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) proficiency among youth has been an educational goal in schools since the mid-’80s, when a series of reports indicated that many American children weren’t meeting competencies in these areas. The addition of “Arts” to STEM in the last few years to create “STEAM”, is indicative of a commitment to infusing creative, open-ended thinking and innovative problem-solving into STEM activities.
Course Description: During this four-week online course, learners will become familiar with STEAM, its relevance to library youth services (preschool – grade 6), and a range of program and services meant to increase exposure to STEAM content areas. Learners will interact with the instructor and one another through weekly discussion forums, and share sample program plans and other resources with the group to facilitate an understanding of the diverse possibilities for STEAM programs and services. Learners will leave the course with knowledge about STEAM and its library applications as well as experience putting together STEAM programs and services for their library users.
Course Outline: When you log in to the Infopeople online learning site, you will see weekly modules with these topics:
- Week 1: What is STEAM, and how does it fit within youth services in a public library?
- Definition of STEAM
- Why STEAM and not just STEM
- Why STEAM is important
- How STEAM fits with the youth services mission
- You don’t need to be a content area expert to STEAM
- The STEAM potential in existing programs and services
- Week 2: Preschool STEAM Programming
- Exploring preschool standards and developmentally appropriate practice
- Goals in offering preschool STEAM programs
- Science programming for preschoolers
- Technology programming for preschoolers
- Engineering programming for preschoolers
- Arts programming for preschoolers
- Math programming for preschoolers
- Week 3: School-age (K-6) STEAM Programming
- Exploring school-age standards and developmentally appropriate practice
- Goals in offering school-age STEAM programs
- Science programming for school-age children
- Technology programming for school-age children
- Engineering programming for school-age children
- Arts programming for school-age children
- Math programming for school-age children
- Week 4: STEAM Services & Resources
- Passive programming with STEAM activities and experiences
- STEAM displays that capture attention
- Highlighting STEAM resources through publicity and readers’ advisory
- Program-planning resources
- Funding, grants, and partnerships
Pre-course Assignment: While not required, learners may find it useful to watch the instructor’s May 2014 Infopeople webinar on this topic, STEAM in the Public Library: Programs & Services for Children.
Time Required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend 2½ hours per week, for a total of ten course hours. Each week's module contains readings and various options for assignments, discussions, or online meetings. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week's work within that week to stay in sync with other learners.
Who Should Take This Course: All library staff members, in both public and school library settings, who provide services to children (preschool-grade 6)
Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at: infopeople.org/training/online_learning_details.
Course Start: This four-week online learning course starts on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.
After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.
Keywords: Children's services