August 21, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2010 Buckeye Book Award Winner

And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2010, Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas.

The Rhyming Dust Bunnies introduces us to Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob.  As they like to say "We rhyme all the time!"  On this particular day Ed starts them off with wondering "Hey! What rhymes with car?" Everyone puts in a vote except for Bob.  Bob is sort of staring in the distance and saying things like "Look!" and "Look Out!" instead of words that rhyme.  The other bunnies are confused by Bob's seeming inability to rhyme, but his name is Bob while they’re names are Ed, Ned, and Ted - maybe he’s just different.  Even when he says "Look out! Here comes a big scary monster with a broom!" they're not quite catching on.  Finally he screams out "Run for it!" and the troop run and hide under a dresser.  However, when they attempt to restart their rhyming antics, "sat" "pat" and "rat" are completed with Bob's timely "vacuum cleaner!" and with a mighty "Thwptt" off they go.  Thomas’ digital images are colorful, simple, and appealing to young readers.  I celebrate all Jan Thomas books, and I’m pleased Rhyming Dust Bunnies won the 2010 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley - I know you are a fan of Jan Thomas, right?  Your upcoming 2010 book is Zoobreak.  This is a cute series but I think book #1, Swindle, is the best of the bunch.  I consider Gordan Korman one of my favorite authors, so I’m pleased to see that one of his books won a Buckeye Book Award.  

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

August 10, 2016

My #pb10for10 - Picture Books for a Makerspace

I’m thrilled to be joining the picture book 10 for 10 fun again this year!  I enjoy the challenge of creating a meaningful list for my self and others, as well as reading all the wonderful lists posted by the community.  

The makerspace movement has greatly impacted my role as a school librarian within the past year.  I’ve created a list of picture books to support staff and students as they engage on makerspace activities and challenges.

1. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

This book is about a young girl who enjoys creating things and decides to build something truly special.  So, after drawing diagrams, hiring an assistant, and collecting materials, she establishes her sidewalk workshop.  But, alas, bringing vision to fruition isn’t easy.   From her efforts, children see the importance of planning, gathering supplies, building, and not giving up when a good idea doesn't initially work out.  I tell my students this is a “maker mindset.”  Try your hardest and don’t give up, even when things are confusing, difficult, or frustrating.  

2. What to do With a Box by Jane Yolen & Chris Sheban

This story is about all the things that a cardboard box can be.  It can be a library, a sailboat, or a race car.  This is a great book to kick off the Cardboard Challenge’s Global Day of Play in October.  I love reading this book and following up the video from Cane’s Arcade.  They are a powerful combination to motivate and inspire students to imagine and create.

3. Hello Ruby: Adventure in Coding by Linda Liukas

This tells the story of Ruby who is determined to solve any problem.  This book is a great introduction to programming and coding concepts like computational thinking, how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns, and thinking outside the box.  It can be accompanied with and coding activities within your makerspace like hour of code,, and scratch.  

4. Franky by Leo Timmers

This book is great to encourage makers to dream big, use their imagination, and embrace engineering skills.  Sam is obsessed with robots.  He’s convinced they live on another planet in outer space.  His family laughs at his idea.  He builds his own robot, keeping it hidden from his family for fear of being ridiculed.  Eventually, his robot friend is rescued by outer space robots to return to his home - leaving his family in shock!  This book teaches maker students to dream big, don’t listen to others, and believe in your vision.  

5. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

This is a story of creativity and perseverance, both important to successful tinkering in a makerspace.  Rosie Revere constructs great inventions, but she gets laughed at and becomes afraid to show them to others.  Then she finds encouragement from a great-great aunt who teaches Rosie to celebrate both her failures and successes. I love the overall message that projects that don’t work initially shouldn’t be discouraging.  Things may not always go as planned, but celebrate your successes and learn from failure.

6. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully
This is a great book to inspire girls to embrace engineering, STEM, and makerspace activities. Mattie lived during a time when it was believed that women couldn’t understand the complexities of mechanical equipment.  Yet she sketched and created inventions to help her family, mill workers, and even designed a machine to fold square paper bags like the ones we still use today.  It’s a great message encouraging girls to dream big, create, and invent.

7. Young Frank Architect by Frank Viva

Makers need to think outside the box and look at things differently.  This is the story of a young and old architect, both named Frank.  Young Frank designs and creates a chair from toilet paper rolls and a curvy model of a skyscraper.  Old Frank is a traditionalist and says Young Frank’s creations are incorrect.  Until they visit the Museum of Modern Art and Old Frank discovered unique creations and begins to appreciate Young Frank’s creations.  This book celebrates the ideas of young designers and encourages them dream and think creatively.  

8. What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada

I’ve taught maker students the design process and encouraged them to start with an idea.  This book is a wonderful accompaniment to this lesson.  It inspires students to take an idea - whether little, big, odd, or difficult -  and give it space to grow.  With a little encouragement, an idea can become something amazing.  

9. Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall

Everything can be used again!  That’s Dawson’s motto.  He takes trash and creates cool inventions like a hot tub on wheels for a motorboat.  Until one day, he creates a machine to do his chores but it goes on a rampage instead.  This book is great to encourage students to recycle junk and repurpose everyday items - a common theme in a makerspace.  

10. Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews

Sewing was a very popular activity in my makerspace last year.  This book about Coco Chanel will inspire young fashion designers both experienced and novice.  Coco designed comfortable clothing for women of all classes.  Soon a new generation of independent working women craved her sleek and practical designs.  Coco was always different, and she proved that being different was an advantage - a wonderful message for young makers, creators, and designers.

August 1, 2016

The Great Egg Drop Challenge

Are you interested in promoting STEM with an egg drop makerspace challenge?  Here are some steps to get you started.  

Last spring, I helped my elementary host an all-school egg drop challenge.  In April, a colleague and I drafted the requirements and sent it out to teachers.  The K-5 teachers chose to have their class participate or not.  Most students who participated where from grades 2nd to 5th.  Teachers chose when and how their students would work on their egg drop challenge.  Many teachers taught relatable science curriculum on momentum, pressure, air resistance, and gravity.  Some teachers required students to design a project on paper first, while other teachers gave students materials and had them create as they go.  No matter what was done, the basic requirements for the egg drop challenge were the same for all.  Here are the challenge details:

Students will design and construct an egg protective device.  They may work alone, in pairs, or in a small group.  Each project will be given one raw egg and limited materials to choose from.  Students can test their devices in the classroom prior to dropping them at the test site.

Students can choose 12 items from the following list materials:
  • 12x12 piece of cardboard
  • 5 elastic bands
  • 8 popsicle sticks
  • 1 meter of tape
  • 2 sheets of construction paper
  • 1 plastic bag
  • 10 straws
  • 1 styrofoam cup
  • 6 cotton balls
  • 8 Q-tips
  • 1 meter of toilet paper
  • 30cm string/yard
  • 1 paper plate
  • 5 pieces of tissue paper
  • 2 12inch sheets of plastic wrap
  • 2 12inch sheets of aluminum foil
These materials will be provided to all:
  • scissors
  • rulers
  • pencils
  • Elmer’s glue
Here are the specifications/rules:
  • The project can not be wider than 12 inches or taller that 12 inches.
  • No parachutes allowed.
  • The egg must be easily placed and removed from the project.  
  • An area the size of a quarter of the egg must be visible at all times.
  • Only the allowed materials provided at school (not home) may be used.
  • Only raw, store bought chicken eggs may be used.  You may not change the egg in any way (no tape on the egg, no boiling the egg in water, or soaking the egg in vinegar).
After the challenge specifications were provided to teachers, classrooms got signed up, and students began working on their designs.  Within a few weeks, the entire school gathered in the gym to watch the preliminary dropping of devices.  The egg projects were dropped from a 12 foot high scissor lift.  There were oohs and aahs when eggs broke and created a mess, and loud celebrations when eggs survived the fall.  The students were captivated, and really got into the glory and defeat.  Projects with eggs that survived moved on to the final round.  

The culminating event for egg drop challenge involved a visit from the local firefighters.  The whole school gathered outside to watch the egg project finalist be dropped from the firetruck’s bucket lifted 25 feet into the air.  Once again, their were screams when projects landed with a loud crack and eggs spilled onto the blacktop and wild celebrations when projects landed softly and eggs were held up intact.  In the end, there were 19 students with eggs that survived and winning project designs.  These winners were featured on the district webpage as STEM master builders.  

If you’re school supports STEM and a makerspace mentality, implement an egg drop challenge.  It can be done within a classroom, grade level, or the entire school.  The students will learn a lot and most of all, have fun!