Tag Archives: STEAM

STEAM Sunday, February 1


It’s never a good sign when your boss comes over to you and says, “So…no one’s signed up for Sunday’s STEAM program…” She’s not coming over to you to just inform you of that fact and then tell you she’s going to lunch. No, sir. She’s informing you of that fact and then telling you that you are now in charge of that Sunday’s STEAM.

Uh, oh.

But luckily, inspiration struck and it struck quickly. (This conversation happened on Friday, so I knew that indulging in panic would not be productive.) I thought for a few minutes – maybe something for Superbowl Sunday? And I lit on a word that came from the depths of a long disused portion of my brain, devoted to math: tessellations.

Where it came from, I don’t know. But it turned out to be just what I needed.

I pulled out Boss’ iPad and loaded up a few links to share with the kids: one, the song “Tessellations” from the most underrated kids’ TV show ever, Square One TV, (a math show that I watched obsessively – I know, right? Math and me?), and two, some of M.C. Escher’s tessellations to show them.

Once I’d shown them these links, we set to making our own tessellations, thanks to some internet digging I’d done. (Rare is the librarian who comes up with his/her own program. The internet is there for a reason, and I’m not too proud to say that.) It was easy and fun.

Here are mine!


If you look carefully, you can see that I have a page of tessellated Heffalumps and a page of tessellated Woozles. I felt like making my tessellations into creatures, and one of the boys asked me what Heffalumps and Woozles were. Well, that required more than just an explanation; it required a song. So not only did the kids learn about tessellations, they learned some rich Disney history via YouTube. (This one kid was fascinated. I’m serious. He insisted on watching the video twice.)

So it was a good program, for the brief amount of planning time I had!

In other news, I changed up one of our bulletin boards. It was our MLK Day one, and I made a slight switch to make it our Black History Month one. I pulled up some quotes and tied them to photos of who said them.


The photo to the far right (sorry, I couldn’t fit the whole board in) is Rosa Parks standing in front of a library. I’m no fool.

Last of all, everyone who’s cool and is not me is at the ALA Midwinter, oh, did I mention LeVar Burton and books and swag and Chicago and awesome librarians and not me? Sad.


In the top spot, a trip down memory lane.

Because it’s awesome!

Gorgeous and really well done. I’m partial to #6 in particular. So delicate.

From Friend D:

I’m going to start using “Interviewing your brains.”

Sad, but not a surprise.

Short but sweet novellas for the non-footballers among us.

Wow – learned something new about Stephen King today.

Speaking for all librarians, which is generally a dangerous thing to do but in this case I’m happy to do it, please do not film porn in the library.

I blew it at #21 by guessing a character who was listed at #55.

From Mama Bear:

English majors, sing it loud and proud.

From Sister A:

She titled the email “Good list,” but I’m going to say it’s an EXCELLENT list.

About writing for kids – things I never would have thought of.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished Stephen King’s Revival, and was still waiting to get scared. It did get a little creepy, okay, fine, but it wasn’t so scary like his old books, like The Shining, or a book I cannot name here that is so scary I can’t even keep it in my house.


STEAM Team, October 5


It frustrates the living crackers out of me when I prepare a program on a topic I think is pretty cool, with some neat visual aids – thanks, YouTube – and then people don’t come. I had, I think, 5 today? I would love to have so many people that the tables would overflow. That I wouldn’t have enough supplies. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful problem to have? Wouldn’t that just be great???


Today would have been Louis Lumiere’s 150th birthday, so me and my 5 talked about the early days of cinema, and I showed them the video of the train arriving at La Ciotat, and the baby being fed, and the men in the sea, and the kids particularly liked hearing (the probable legend of) how the audience thought the train might come out of the screen, or they might get splashed by the water on the screen. Then we made flip books! Mine came out terribly, but the kids seemed to have a good time.

I can promote all I like with flyers and on listservs and the web, but I wish I knew how to get attendance up higher.

Lotsa links.

In the top spot: Get ready to ovulate, ladies!

I’m not opposed to bribery…

Depends on who’s starring in it.

Well, duh.

Gaskell was one of my special ladies – I focused on her during my time abroad and my graduate school writing.

From Friend C, a librarian in DC:

Her coworker wrote this interesting blog post on incorporating yoga (!) into library programs. A damn good idea, I think.

From Friend D:

You bet your bottom we won’t. For comparison, I tell parents all the time that I can neither confirm nor deny if their minor child has been in the library today. Personal information? Nope.

“I thought I’d killed enough teenagers. But then I thought it’d be fun to kill teenagers again.”

I’m just going to say it: I have always, always, always hated The Giving Tree. There. I said it. Go ahead and judge me.

A chat with Gillian Flynn.

Amazing letterhead! (Tone it down a bit, Harpo.)

Slang isn’t new, you know.


From Library School Friend D:

How’s your vocabulary? I took it after having had a strong margarita, so I didn’t do as well as I’d like.

From Mama Bear:

Like I need another reason to love London.

From a small town near my parents’ house. I guess Sister A and I don’t need to head to Orlando now, huh?

From Friend T (see her excellent reading recommendation below):

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge! I’ve read 131. I like the variety.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I very much enjoyed a recommendation from Friend T, The Martian, which is very very science-y and math-y, but made me feel as if I were on Mars with our stranded hero, Mark Watney. I read it and felt quite happily geekbrainy. (Apparently a movie adaptation is in the works with Matt Damon.) In an abrupt about face, I went from that to new release The Good Girl, which has apparently been compared to Gone Girl, an accurate comparison I can see only in the fact that the two books share the word “girl” in the title. A shallow kidnapping caper with a twist a blind man could see coming. Meh.

Baby storytime and STEAM: Pi Day, Friday, March 14


What a busy day. Note to self: two programs in one day is a bit much. But it was all fabulous.

The neat thing that I really liked about my babytime is that I had a lot of new parents and babies. I also tried to do a few new things.


The books we read were all baby-related, and with simple rhymes and actions for the parents to do with the kids, or model for the kids – bouncing, or playing peek-a-boo, or lifting them up high – they worked really well. I recommend any of them, and will use all of them again in future storytimes. (One Hungry Baby, How Do You Make a Baby Smile, and Baby Talk.)

I brought out the shakers during our rhymes, when we did Hickory Dickory Dock and Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The kids were good at shaking in rhythm, and then loved shaking them for fun. It was a great storytime – I was really pleased.

It goes without saying that I’m an English major – that math was never my strong point. Ever. even now. And I figured, if I’m going to celebrate Pi Day, I’m going to do it as right, as clearly as possible. I mean, I have a problem still explaining and understanding Pi (don’t judge me), but I wanted to make it clear and enjoyable for the kids.

I made a flyer and set up a table, with Pi winding all around it, and a few math-related books.


The day of, I didn’t have a great turnout – but I had some regulars, woo! – but I really liked what I had planned. I discussed Pi (I had a sheet of vocabulary that we’d be using – diameter, circumference, radius), and read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi .

We watched a few YouTube videos:

Explaining just what Pi is

Just how long Pi goes for (over a trillion digits!)…

And how Pi can even translate to music

I showed the music one last,  because that’s what our craft was about: I sorted beads into different colors, and gave each a number:


Then we took the beads and strung them together in Pi. 3.14159….color-coded, if you will. We all had the same bracelet, which we agreed was like having a secret code that only we understood. Here’s mine, once it was done. (Of course, a pi bracelet can never be finished, but this was about 30 minutes’ work.)



These were the illustrations in my (and Sister A’s) childhood copy!

This surprises me. I’m not complaining, though.

From Friend P (an actual Ph.D. reads my blog!): this is GORGEOUS.

From Friend E, John Steinbeck on love. Thoughtful (and universally good) advice.

There really is a science to opening books.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’ve satisfied my Dickens craving by reading one I hadn’t read before – Hard TImes. It’s not as thick as, nor as epic as the “name” books (David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist), but a good read. There really isn’t a bad Dickens book, frankly.

STEAM Team Friday, February 28


I know I’ve talked about STEAM before on here, so I won’t go into what it is. I liked watching my coworkers do theirs, but the idea of doing one myself made me a little nervous. I’m an English major! What do I know about science? Science and technology, ahhhh, engineering, slightly better, math, yikes, arts, okay, but Coworker C had done hers last week on Andy Warhol, so arts was out. For my first STEAM, being a dentist’s daughter, I figured I’d go with what I know – teeth.

I liked the flyer I put out – of course I had to put a pun in there.


I had a turnout of 7, which is pretty good, and they were all excited to participate and interact. It was a lot of fun! We started off with learning about the types of teeth that people have in their mouths.


I’ve gotten much better at coloring inside the lines throughout the years.

Then I shared some silly and fun facts about teeth. The one at the bottom of this page, about the donkey – the kids could not get over it. They laughed so hard at the idea of kissing a donkey that it was probably the highlight of the program for them.


(On the other side of the page are more facts, plus sources. Once an English major, always an English major.)

Finally, we put together tooth diaries. We decorated plain pieces of paper to serve as the fronts and backs.


Stapled within it, double-sided, are these pages:


I expected the kids to sort of half-ass the decoration part, but they put a lot of care and detail into it. They loved showing their parents what they did, and the parents thanked me for putting on such a good program! It was a real winner.

After such a great post, I hate to put in two rants, so here you go:

1) In the teen space, when you walk in, right in front of you on a pole, you can’t miss it, it’s REALLY OBVIOUS, is a sign that says TEEN SPACE, for ages 13 – 19 or something like that. In big letters. On a bright green, almost neon background. I can’t tell you how many people walk into teen space with strollers or babies and go, “Oh, this isn’t the children’s area?” I’m sorry, did you miss that huge, glaring sign in front of you that read “TEEN SPACE”? Are you just that unobservant?

2) One of the teens the other day asked me to spell “cartoon.” And it was during the day, so he had to be either 18 or 19. So we talked about the sounds in it – the hard C, the “oo” vowel sound, and eventually (“Is there a ‘w’ in it?”) we got it right. What is the matter with our educational system in this country that our teenagers cannot spell a basic word?

So now this isn’t funny anymore.

Anyway, in links:

Happy, happy belated birthday to Theodor Seuss Geisel! Here’s what he can teach adults. Here are some facts I bet you didn’t know about our good doctor.

Shakespeare isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, including mine. Sure, I like the tragedies – I like my plays to end with dead bodies littering the stage – but I never was a huge fan of the comedies. If more of these come out, I’d be a fan.

From Friend D: this is frightening.

Also from Friend D, who quipped in her email to me, “I guess his scar will stop hurting him in the last book.”

No contest! Jane forever!

From Mama Bear, I was relieved when the list finally got to Rebecca, which, as you know, is my all-time favorite book.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I sort of went on a Jane Austen jag. I do that sometimes. Mama Bear had read and really liked Longbourn, which is P&P from the servants’ perspective. It was well-written, and an interesting look at what goes on below stairs. (I’ve read alternate ending Austen books, and sequels – I have a pair of book sequels that are practically pornographic, giving me more than I ever wanted to know about Darcy and Elizabeth’s sex life. But this wasn’t bad.)

After that, purely by coincidence, I swear, I picked up Midnight in Austenland, the sequel to the book that was actually made into a movie. It was fluffy and quick, but fun.

Big hearts and big smiles


(Wow, that was super-cheesy.)

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but it’s a pretty big deal around the library.  I was off on the 14th, but we had all exchanged valentines among ourselves. Quite a few were really hilarious – literary references, puns and puns (One of mine read “I want tibia your valentine” with a picture of a leg bone), lots of fun. Librarians are smart, educated people with a weakness for silliness, and Valentine’s Day encourages it.

Yesterday (again, off), I had a bit of a busman’s holiday by popping into children’s – I needed a book from the library anyway, I swear – to see how Coworker A’s STEAM program was going.

(Have I mentioned STEAM? It stands for science-technology-engineering-arts-math and each Friday at 4 p.m. is a different STEAM program.)

Anyway, A put together a catapult program for STEAM. I made one – isn’t it cute?


Picture a bottlecap glued down where I drew the heart, serving as a launching pad. It’s quite fun, and we talked about launching different objects – cotton balls, M&Ms, pennies, Cheerios, and how far they might each go, and why they would go different distances.

I plan to use it to cause mischief.

Today was the Valentine’s Day party in the children’s section. I missed it all, ensconced in Teens – we were a bit short-handed, so I held down the teenage fort myself for most of it, incident-free, I might add – but I helped Coworker C set up for the party.

He made a tic-tac-toe board and a few heart-shaped animals (talk about cute) to guide the patrons.


Patrons could also use pipe cleaners to twist into hearts and glasses and crowns. You can see my heart-shaped glasses that C made for me while I was coming up with… well, you’ll have to see in the next paragraph. I wore them all day. The teens thought I was a bit bananas, but they always sort of think I’m bananas just in being an adult.


So what was I working on? I came up with a scavenger hunt – to search for certain books, DVDs, CDs, or magazines, and inside them would be cut-out hearts. There were 20 tasks, and 20 hearts (see the example below, from James and the Giant Peach).


The whole day was a success, so I hear! It makes me glad.

Just a few links today (and a whole lot of content, what a switch!):

Marriage and Hermione apparently just don’t mix.

What’s your preferred love story? Try this infographic.

Oh, in other news, apparently the next book in J. K. Rowling’s Cormorant Strike series – the one that began with the surprisingly good The Cuckoo’s Calling – will be out in June.

in What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished The Tale of Murasaki, by Liza Dalby, who is the first Western woman to ever become a geisha. The novel is the fictionalized life of Lady Murasaki, who wrote what is considered the first ever real novel, The Tale of Genji.  Which, sigh, I’ve never read, but want to.



I’m a little bit cranky today because I found out that one of my favorite people in my group has been transferred to another library in the system. We’re all told that that can happen at any time, but – grr. I don’t like the idea of my fabulous team being broken up. I guess the good side is that she’ll make friends at her new branch, and we get to meet cool new people too, to invite to our happy hours. 

Our teens do a lot of things in the teen space, but I did have one do something completely unexpected: a Muslim teen asked if he could use our small study room for his midday prayers. Of course, I said. I offered to close the door, but he said it didn’t matter, and it was nice to have a small corner of the often chaotic teen space be tranquil for a few minutes.

We usually have art projects on Friday afternoons, but we’re going to start doing more with STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (often you might see STEM programs, but, hey, art’s important too, right?). To that end, I designed a flyer advertising our new initiative, and made a board for it. I borrowed half of one and came up with something I like quite a bit:


(It’s a little blurry; sorry. I’m better at cutting out steam puffs than I am taking pictures.) And the good thing is that we had a lot of great books to choose from to put up – some of them are already circulating. How about that?

Today got a lot better when I got home after a two-bloody-hour commute, with an envelope in the mail from Mama Bear, who sent me the new packet of Harry Potter stamps. Thanks, Mama B.

Now, some fun links, mostly brought to you by Buzzfeed:

Still need some excellent gift ideas (for me)? Got this treasure trove from Friend D.

I don’t understand this list of books that have been banned at Gitmo. Will Jack and the Beanstalk provoke an insurrection? I don’t know. (Also, Time people, you misspelled Frederick Douglass’ name.)

From Mama Bear: independent bookstores are in far more danger than libraries are, but don’t count them out yet.

Now for an assload of awesome Buzzfeed links:

This set of books re-imagined for college students had me on the floor laughing.

Hyperventilate along with me at the first glimpse of the poster for The Fault in Our Stars.

Buzzfeed came out with their top 20 children’s books so far this year, starting off with Jon Scieszka’s Battle Bunny, which I think I linked to the other day.

You’ll always have a place in your heart for the books you loved as a kid. I’m living proof. Here are some series that Buzzfeed folks got nostalgic about. [Sister A and I have always loved, loved, loved, the Malory Towers series, she more so than I did, but we both really obsessed over the St. Clare’s series (without the awful modern covers). When Sister A went off to boarding school as a ninth-grader, I had a sneaking suspicion that those books were the reason why, and I’m probably not wrong.]

Finally, ho ho ho, some holiday classics. Glad they included Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins; a terrific retelling of a great folk story, with some excellent drawings to match.

In our latest installment of What’s Annabelle Reading, Friend D gave me the whole Malcolm Gladwell library – thank you! So awesome! – and I’ve zipped through Outliers and The Tipping Point so far. I’d never read them because I thought they were self-help books, which I sort of look at cockeyed, but they’re neat social psychology books, along the lines of Freakonomics. I definitely recommend them.

I’m taking a break between Gladwells to read some YA, starting off with Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. But I’m not into it. I may give up, which I don’t normally do. Vampires, fine, Robin McKinley, fine, but this isn’t doing it for me.