In December, Children’s Librarians at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh celebrated a year of literacy and learning with the opportunity to explore new STEM programs, including robots and coding activities. Staff learned together as these opportunities allow us to create as a team and share our new knowledge with children in the coming year. At the Library we promote all types of literacy, and hope to empower children through access to technology and 21st century learning skills. In the coming year as we focus on computer science and coding we will explore interest driven learning with youth through the use of robots and new technologies in our spaces during our All Hands on Tech and Super Science programs. Children learn to collaborate, problem solve and experiment as they participate in these learning experiences with staff, caring adults and their peers.
At our training this month we learned that even our littlest learners in preschool can start to develop the skills needed to excel in computer science. With the use of Cubetto robots, staff explored how they can support children to become coders and programmers by focusing on patterns, repetition and sequence. Cubetto is a cute robot, whose developers explain, “We think that children should be introduced to coding when they start learning how to read and write, and our smart-toys begin with the ABCs. It’s important children this young are exposed to basic principles of programming, even if they don’t necessarily learn how to code.”
Staff discovered Cubetto’s story maps and the corresponding books as we discussed how we can use this with kids in our spaces. We loved meeting Cubetto and are excited to introduce this little bot to children and their families in 2018.
From preschoolers to adults, Sphero SPRK robots offer fun and educational ways for people of all ages to code and create. Sphero robots are enhanced with the use of their app Sphero Edu, which offers scaffolded programming activities. We learned how we can use Sphero to create collaborative art using only a robot, paint and cardboard. At the end of the training we made a piece of art our entire team worked on. Librarians offer STEAM programs year round, and many of these focus on engineering. Staff learned how children can invent a boat Sphero can tow through water. Staff also shared Sphero’s Hydro Hypothesis lesson plan to create robot powered rafts.
Using Osmo and iPads we learned how to teach coding through music. Coding Jam gives kids activities and open studio time to explore the connection between the language of music and computers. Using Osmo Masterpiece we learned how to create realistic portraits and cartoon animals through the app’s various drawing lessons.
In addition to lots of tech, staff shared some great tech-free coding lessons. Using Legos, CLP – South Side’s Cheryl shared an activity to code without any robots or tablets. Children simply use the Legos already at most Library locations and free printable command cards. Caralee from CLP – East Liberty shared coding activities enhanced by reading the book, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark. Brianna of CLP – LBPH shared ways to make STEAM programs more accessible to all children and families. She provided tips to be more inclusive in our programs and demonstrated a Swell-Form machine used to create tactile educational materials such as maps and diagrams.
Tess showed us how to promote data literacy in children’s programs with examples of how data impacts all of our lives. Tess shared her lessons on creating civic data zines with youth of all ages. As an intern in Civic Information Services, Tess worked extensively on these projects and even created a Data Journalist kit available for Librarians to use throughout Allegheny County. Read more about her work in her Story Pockets posts!
Of course at CLP we are still all about books, and staff shared heaps of the best children’s picture book biographies meant to engage youth in our STEAM programs. From Wangaari Maathai to Lena Blackburne, CLP – Allegheny Librarian Jamie Collett showed us how to get kids excited about books and science with engaging facts and fun activities. Jamie uses books like Miracle Mud to test dirt samples using a Mudwatt, or explore sensory STEM experiences.
We discovered so much together and are excited to share new learning opportunities and technology with children and their families. Librarians are prepared to suggest awesome books, educational toys and tech, interactive learning with apps and fun activities, so check out a program or ask a question soon!
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.