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STEM Challenge of the Month

Are you thinking about starting a Makerspace but have limited funds or just are not quite ready to take the plunge? A great way to get your feet wet is to create a STEM Challenge of the Month in your library.

A STEM or STEAM Challenge is a science, math, engineering, art, or Math related activity that involves open ended exploration.
My school does not have a Makerspace, and starting one this year, is not in the plans. We would like to add a Makerspace eventually and I thought adding a STEM or STEAM Challenge of the month would be an excellent way to see what kind of Maker activities my students enjoy most. Although I don’t a budget for materials, I am very lucky to have a wide array of supplies available to me (paper, paint, crayons, markers, scissors, tape, etc.) What I am unable to get through our basic supplies, parents are always willing to send in.

Since I did not start this position until mid December, I decided to start my first STEM Challenge in January. Our first challenge was called “Snowman Stretch” Students had to make a snowman using only the materials provided. The challenge? The idea is to build the tallest snowman, but each snowman build must balance on it’s own. The first day I put out the challenge in early January, I was not quite sure how popular this activity would be. My students really gravitated towards the STEM Challenge and were soon planning their next visit to the library so they could work on their snowmen. Many of my students decided to work in teams, and the collaboration I saw happen between them was fantastic. This challenge will soon be over and we will start a new one for February. My students are already wondering what the next challenge will be. Hint: It has to do with Valentine’s Day.

So where do I get my ideas for my STEM Challenges? Well, STEM is everywhere and a basic internet search will give you tons of hits. My favorite places to find ideas is Pinterest, Twitter, and Teachers Pay Teachers (not everything costs money on TPT) Of course the best ideas sometimes come from our students!

By Anastasia Hanneken
School Librarian
Indian Mills Memorial Middle School
Shamong Township School District
Shamong, NJ

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