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BLAST Outreach Update

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Bringing Libraries and Schools Together (BLAST) team has had an exciting start to the 2018-2019 school year! This year, BLAST program participation has increased to include a total of 31 Pittsburgh Public Elementary Schools. Students in participating schools have found themselves learning everything from pre-coding concepts through gameplay to new vocabulary through movement. Read on to find out what the BLAST team has been up to for the first few months of the school year.

Fourth grade students at PPS Brookline show off their “I Had a BLAST Today with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh” stickers.
Fourth grade students at PPS Brookline show off their “I Had a BLAST Today with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh” stickers.


Third grade students across the city of bridges have been busy exploring new books, writing meaningful journal entries, and learning about library resources through monthly BLAST classroom visits. Third graders have participated in interactive read alouds of the award winning book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, graphic novels Nick the Sidekick by Dave Whamond and Sparks! by Ian Boothby, as well as the early chapter book, Kid Spy: Mac Undercover by beloved children’s author Mac Barnett. During the interactive read alouds students are asked to listen closely for two new vocabulary words and do seated gestures (dab or grab) when they hear them. This creates an opportunity to incorporate movement into the read aloud. After each book, students provide written responses to a prompt that connects the text to their everyday lives in BLAST supplied journals. BLAST Specialists read and positively respond to every entry through written feedback. Students and teachers alike have been commenting on how much they enjoy this year’s book selection.

A student book review from a BLAST visit.
A review of the book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut written by a third grader at PPS Weil.


The BLAST Thematic Program has also been a hit with both students and teachers. The first of two rounds of programming has taken place in 17 PPS locations and included over 1,500 students thus far. Thematic Programs for round one span a range of topics including mythical dragons, magic tricks, and understanding library resources through coding.

Kindergarten and first grade students have been thoroughly enjoying listening to the extremely interactive book, This Book is Not About Dragons by Shelley Moore Thomas, and creating their own fiery friends. Second and third grade students have been reading about how magical books can be while also watching BLAST Specialists perform mind boggling tricks before creating their own awesome optical illusions. The fourth and fifth grade Thematic Program has been reinforcing student knowledge of pre-coding concepts through a board game centered on library resources.

The BLAST team is having a great time delivering outreach programs and strengthening connections between our city’s school age learners and the Library. We would love to share more about current and upcoming programming so if you’re interested in learning more, please contact the team at

Zia is an Outreach Specialist with the School Age BLAST team. She is an avid reader, gardener, and bee (yes, the insect) enthusiast. She loves giving book recommendations and taking pictures of her three pets.  

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