by Laura Damon-Moore

If you’re like the team at the Library as Incubator Project, you’re all about working a little A into STEM activities – A for Arts to make STEAM! Some of our favorite library and education movers and shakers have embraced the STEM to STEAM movement, and we’re happy to go along for the ride (links to external websites).

The following is a program that we started at my library this fall called the S.T.E.A.M.punks Club. Now, “Steampunks” is a bit of a misnomer – it doesn’t have much to do with the steampunk subculture that teens love. The S.T.E.A.M.punks Club is an after-school programming for K-5th grades that provides exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math-based projects.

Program details

The program, which we host monthly at the library to coincide with our school district’s early-out Wednesdays, is two hours long and has been attracting 30-35 kids – some repeat customers and some brand-new each time.

Club members are asked to register ahead of time through a basic Google online form, which feeds a spreadsheet that we use to check kids in when they arrive at the library. It’s up to parents and kids to talk about how they will get to and from the library after school. Kids are asked to stay in the program during the full two hours unless a parent gives them permission to leave early.

S.T.E.A.M.punks hard at work on their cityscape project. Photo by Nancy Kress.

S.T.E.A.M.punks hard at work on their cityscape project. Photo by Nancy Kress.

We have a great group of volunteers (all retired teachers/educators) who assist with prep and facilitation of this program, because if I were in charge of 30+ school-age kids on my own for two hours, my head would explode. They are a lifeline and a great resource of inspiration and ideas for activities, too. We also have a group of parents who donate snacks for the activity which reduces the overall cost of the program to the library and allows us to stock up on craft and activity supplies.

What we do with our S.T.E.A.M.punks

During our Art Day in November, we did the following activities. These were set up in stations around the room. Club members were divided into groups based on the color of their name tag.

  • Illustrations in the style of Ed Emberley’s thumbprint drawings, using finger paint and colored pencils.
  • Mask-making inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Large-scale cityscapes using oversize sheets of graph paper and markers (group project).
  • Mini sculptures using homemade play-dough.

After our station time wrapped up, we concluded the day with these activities for the whole group:

  • Fine art coloring page during the “Mars” movement of Gustav Holst’s The Planets.
  • Snack and group story time – our book was Where the Wild Things Are. 

As you can see, the program is jam-packed with activities. Our station time is only about fifteen minutes at each station, so our projects need to be easy to complete. We try to make sure that the activities are easy to replicate at home and include a book list that relates to that day’s theme. After the program finishes I make sure to email the parents to check in and see if they/their kids have any feedback, and to send out links to the projects in case they want to do them with siblings or friends later.

Where do we get the ideas for our S.T.E.A.M.punks Days? Here are a couple of places I check out frequently:

 

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