Spy School

We had a LOT of fun at Spy School! We did this as part of our new program Spotlight.  Spotlight focuses on a different topic each month.  It follows the interests of what we see in our department.  Since Stuart Gibbs’ latest book Spy School Secret Service is now out, we decided to have some fun with it sending our school-aged kiddos through different tasks and missions in order to officially be spies.

Here is a quick look at what we did!

 

The overall set-up was stations that they could go to as they pleased.  There were no progressive steps (with one exception which I’ll tell you about in a minute).  We do the majority of our programs this way for a couple reasons.  First, kids don’t all go at the same pace.  This set up gives kids the freedom to explore stations where they need more time without feeling self-conscious and likewise allows them to move on from stations that go quickly for them.  Though it may sound chaotic,  it actually helps keep everybody on task.  Second, we serve kiddos with special needs and this format gives them the ability to participate at a level that is comfortable for them and adjust as they need.

These were our stations:

Hand Scanner for Entry

This was quick and easy.  Just use a name-brand Ziploc bag (the generic I have tried to use leaked terribly), clear hair gel and water color paint or food coloring.  I sealed the edges of the bag with duct tape just to reinforce.  Be sure to squeeze all the air from the bag before sealing it up!

Agent ID

We found some fun Secret Agent Badge printables online.  The kids grabbed a color out of bucket A and an animal out of Bucket B and this became their Code Name for all missions.

Book Cipher

We created a book cipher using copies of Fox in Socks.  The kids (and some parents) had a lot of fun figuring out our messages!

Secret Messages

We set up a wax resist station for kids to right secret messages to each other.  White crayons on white construction to write the messages and water color paint to reveal the messages made it a fun little project.  The kids loved leaving messages for others to find.

Pom Pom Target Practice

We found this really cool blog that had a great tutorial for pom pom target practice, so we tried it out.  The kids did a great job with this simple activity and LOOOOVED creating their own shooter.  Pool noodles, duct tape, balloons, and pom-poms are all you need for this and it is a huge hit!  We set up a target on our wall.  Their objective was to stand at varying distances and shoot into the caution tape.

 

Dodge the Lasers!

We used a strong, thing book tape to create a laser field for kids to dodge in and out of, trying to avoid getting stuck.

Minefield

This is the one station that I wasn’t thrilled with.  Sadly in programs, sometimes ideas that seem great on paper just aren’t as great in real life.  The objective is to stomp and walk through the pool (or minefield) and not pop a balloon.  Unfortunately, this really wasn’t a challenge.  The balloons would fly out of the pool before they could even attempt to pop, or not pop, them.  Were I to do this again, I would not confine it to the pool and I would use a lot more balloons.

 

All in all, everyone loved this program, including me!  In fact, we liked it so much we are putting it on again (minus the minefield) at our Exploratorium on November November 29th!

 

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Coding

Coding. That’s something with computers, right? But what’s this about young children doing coding? It turns out, coding is just a way of thinking that we start doing at an early age. I’ve just let the term “code” freak me out. There are many ways for a child to develop those coding skills without looking at a computer for those parents wishing to limit screen time. Being surrounded by technology, learning how to code becomes more and more necessary in life and just like a foreign language, it is easier to learn at an early age. That’s because creating a code is like a language –  a special language that tells a computer or robot what to do. Turn left, go straight. clap three times. Coding helps children with problem solving and logic. The ability to direct technology instead of just using it, builds confidence and skills that will help children later on in school and in careers where there is more and more demand for technology.

At our November 1st Exploratorium we started with very basic coding concepts using a variety of coding kits that will be available to try out in the Children’s Dept the week of Thanksgiving and then will be available to check out at a later date. This is a great way for your child to get started with the concept of coding before purchasing items that are more complicated. Some of the new items we have available include:

 

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar, Cubetto Educational Coding Robot, Learning Resources Learning Essentials Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set and an Ozobot.

A basic game to play with your child that demonstrates coding basics at no cost is a form of Simon Says. Simon says, if I clap my hands, then you stomp your feet. Or, if I nod my head, then you nod your head. Simon is the programmer, everyone else in the group becomes the computer.

Ready for something more complex? Place a black checker somewhere towards the far side of a checkerboard. Place a few red checkers on the board to act as obstacles. Place another black checker in the lower left corner of the board. Now direct the lower left black checker to the other black checker using only these simple directions: Go Forward, Turn Right, Turn Left, Repeat. The checker can move only 1 square at a time. It does not matter if the square is black or red.

An example:

Go Forward

Repeat

Repeat

Turn Right

Go Forward

Turn Left

Go Forward

Repeat

 

Continue until you reach the black checker. Write down the instructions, step by step.

Now place the black checker back to the lower left corner and follow your written instructions. Did it work? If it didn’t, go back and figure out where you went wrong and try again. If it did work, then you just wrote your first piece of successful code!

 

In January we will have another coding program for Exploratorium that will be a bit more advanced than last weeks program. In the meantime stop by the children’s desk to try out the basic coding program kits we have.

Miss Christina

Still Time to Register!!

Miss Marta

LEGO ROBOTICS AT MOLINE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Miss Marta

 

Earth Science Books

New YorkSubway Guide

Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything by Theodore Gray

Rocks, Minerals, and Gems by John Farndon

How to Be a Scientist by Steve Mould

Rocks & Minerals by Nancy Honovich

Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook by Michael Geisen

The Elements Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Periodic Table by Tom Jackson

Miss Janna

Building Bridges

 

Did you realize how many different types of bridges we have in the Quad Cities?

Since designing the Exploratorium Building Bridges program, I keep looking at bridges, explaining to my very patient husband that the footbridge he just crossed over was a beam bridge and the strengths and weaknesses of that type of bridge. All this time I just thought bridges were “pretty” or “ugly” because of their design. I never thought there was a reason for the style of bridge or to really think about the amazing amount of weight these bridges have to carry. It’s been an eye opener.

It all started with the model of the new I-74 bridge that is currently located in our lobby. I thought this would be a great time to do a STEAM program on bridges and how they are built.

At the program we observed what made a design strong with 4 different type of bridges. At the end, everyone designed their own bridge that would be strong enough to hold an apple. If you want to try these at home, they are very simple.

 

Beam Bridge

Supplies: 2 even stacks of books, 2 pieces of card stock, scissors, tape and weights. Weights can be anything the same size like small blocks or other toys that are the same size and weight that will not roll away from you or break.

Place a piece of cardstock on the two stacks of books so it looks like a bridge. Now begin adding weights, one at a time. How many weights did you add before the bridge collapsed?

Now create 2 piers from the 2nd sheet of card stock by rolling up the cardstock into a tube and taping it. Cut the tube into 2, sizing them so it fits under the “road” of your bridge. Place the 2 tubes or piers under the bridge and start adding weight again. Did it hold more weight?

Beam bridges are simple to create and are ideal for short distances unless you have other ways to support the bridge.

 

 

Arch Bridge

Supplies: 2 even stacks of books, 2 full pieces of card stock, weights.

Recreate your beam bridge without the piers. Form the second piece of cardstock into an arch and place it under the road of the bridge. How many weights does the bridge hold? Was this more than the beam bridge without piers? With piers?

If you were to create an arch from stones or blocks, this would need tension to hold the arch together. An example of the tension in an arch is to stand facing someone about the same height as you. Both of you hold up your hands and grasp them to form an arch. Now lean forward. The force you feel where your hands meet is the same force that would hold stones together in an arch. The arch shape is able to disperse the weight to the ground or abutment of the bridge.

 

 

Truss Bridge

Supplies: 2 even stacks of books, 1 full piece of card stock, 1 piece of paper, weights.

Truss bridges get their strength from a framework made of triangles. Triangles are much stronger than squares or rectangles because they can move the pressure of the road load from a single point to a much wider area.

Recreate your beam bridge. Remember how many weights it would hold?

Now fold your piece of paper like you would a fan. Spread it out and place it under your road so it spans the bridge. Now try adding weight. Does it hold more?

Why do you think the fanned paper was helpful? Would it work if it were a flat sheet of paper?

 

Suspension Bridge

Supplies: a long piece of cardboard about 4 ft long for the road. It may be bent. A hole punch, 2 chairs with an open back, pipe cleaners, 2 long pieces of cord about 12-14 ft long and some weights – we used 4 Lego blocks.

I found this bridge fascinating. It seems impossible that two pieces of cord can hold up a bridge!

 

Place the chairs back to back. Place the strings parallel to each other over the chairs so that the ends go over the front of each chair and reach the floor. If it helps for set up, tape the cords to the top of the chairs. Just be certain to take off the tape when the bridge is assembled. Tie the ends of your string to your weights and pull the weights away from the chairs to make the cords taught. Punch holes on either side of the cardboard, 3-4 on each side, evenly spaced out. You do not need to have holes on the far ends of the cardboard. Attach a pipe cleaner to each hole by threading it through the hole and twisting the end to the pipe cleaner. Place the ends of the cardboard on the seats of the chairs. You may need to support the cardboard until you have the pipe cleaners in place. Next, hook the pipe cleaners onto the cords.  Now you can pull the road support away and take off the tape.

Try putting on a toy car on the bridge. Does it hold?

What happens if you move the weights closer to the bridge?

What if you have fewer pipe cleaners? No pipe cleaners?

Can you determine what is supporting the weight?

 

 

When I started designing this program, I didn’t know the first thing about bridges, however, through the books and kits we have at the library plus the Internet, I developed a great respect for the bridges I see every day. Which is a lot of bridges!

It turns out the Quad Cities has many examples of the different types of bridges. When you cross a bridge, see if you can determine what kind it is: Beam, Arch – Tied Arch, Suspension, Truss, Swing, or Cable-Stayed.

And the next time you come into the library, be certain to check out the new I-74 bridge model in the lobby. It’s awesome!

Miss Christina

 

CSI Exploratorium

Join us October 18th from 2 to 3:30 for CSI Exploratorium! For those who don’t know, Exploratorium is a weekly program for kindergarten to fifth graders where we cover all things STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).  We usually do this program as a drop in, where you can come anytime from 2 to 3:30 BUT we are changing that a bit for CSI Exploratorium.  The program will be from 2 to 3:30  but it will NOT be a drop in. Make sure you are here at 2pm to join in the fun as real detectives and techs from the Moline Police Department will be here to guide us through some very exciting parts of their job!  Want details about this and other programs?  Click here for our calendar!

Miss Marta