All Hands on Tech: Learn at the Library all Summer with Super Science!

Kristin Staff Image

June 11, 2017 marked the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s annual celebration of literacy and learning: Extravaganza! Extravaganza kicks off the Library’s Summer Reading program for all ages. Summer Reading is an effort to prevent summer learning loss through opportunities to read and discover all year long! Stop into your neighborhood location or enroll online to start earning awesome prizes for reading like our new #PGHREADS tote bags and books for the whole family!

Science lab tent at Extravaganza

At the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh we are all about literacy and learning, and this year’s STEM tent offered both in abundance at Extravaganza. Our Super Science programs receive generous support from PPG Foundation and other funders. With this support our team of staff and friendly volunteers engaged the city in some of our new Super Science program kits. Through hard work, countless hours, an overwhelming amount of cardboard and papier-mache, Labs mentor Flory Gessner helped introduce the Super Science: Game Designer kit. Replicating an old time arcade, our iPads were in high demand as attendees of all ages explored the art of storytelling through gaming. The Game Designer kit includes Bloxels, a hands on tool teaching users how to develop video games. Bloxels has it all: inventing characters, plots, levels, backgrounds and storylines via an iPad app and tactile blocks. It is a great tech tool to teach the countless ways we are able to share stories while introducing kids to programming.

Staff created lesson plans putting books front and center in this exploration of technology. Curriculum includes getting excited about world building using Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. Exploring modding and plot twists we revisited the classic Choose Your Adventure books as read alouds supporting our lesson plan for school age students. Kids can learn to translate print media into digital media using the wordless picture book Journey by Aaron Becker. We also included the fun graphic novel series Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang to get kids excited about their adventures in coding.

Coding concepts and computer programming are not exclusively learning experience for school age children and older. In the STEM tent at Extravaganza little learners met our new robot friend Cubetto. Cubetto is an adorable box shaped bot that navigates a story map with the assistance of their human pals. Young children can explore storybooks included with Cubetto to set their new friend on an adventure. Cubetto is not limited to the included books and story maps, as Librarians can choose their own favorites and create story maps to complement the text for super STEM storytimes! Programming Cubetto consists of using a board and small “chips,” that give the bot commands through block based coding.

Block based coding, Cubetto

Some of our other robots friends joined Cubetto like our Finch robots. Children discovered the next level of block based coding using BirdBrain software on computers to program the robots. Some of the Finch robots escaped the maze as children programmed the bots to venture off road and out into the world.

Summer Reading 2017 has only just begun and we have set the ambitious goal of reading 180,000 books citywide. Summer learning is not limited to books, and opportunities through Super Science programs like those shared at Extravaganza are being hosted at many of our 19 locations. We look forward to seeing you at the library this summer for Super Science programs, Summer Reading and more!

Kristin is the Children’s and Teen Librarian at CLP – Hill District. She enjoys embroidery, feminist children’s literature and strong female protagonists! The music of Mr. Rogers has been known to make her very emotional.

Colorful silhouettes of four people jumping with the Pittsburgh skyline in the background.

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