This past Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to chaperone our GATEWAY field trip to Georgia Highlands College in Cartersville, Georgia. GATEWAY is our gifted program and these students have been doing a lot of STEM as part of their "Tinkerlab" theme this school year. The teacher is my co-sponsor for our school STEM club, so it was fun to spend the day helping her. We carried 18 students from our school and had an amazing day of learning! The kids LOVED it!
The day started with a welcome from the Georgia Highlands Science Department Head and that kicked off us getting into groups. These groups were a mix of students, so it was a wonderful way for kids to get outside of their own bubble and make new friends. And I was chaperoning a group of students that did not include a single one from my school, so that was extra fun!!! I made lots of new friends too!
The students in my group all had permission to be photographed, so I wanted to be sure to share that before jumping in to what we did. Basically the day was a rotation of class sessions. Students were guided to each session by some of the college's softball team members who were generous enough to volunteer their time. Our first session was CHEMISTRY and the kids loved it. They learned about pH testing and acids and bases. Tons of fun with real-world application. This class was taught by one of the college instructors, so that made it extra cool to the kids.
Our next session was led by one of our district's GATEWAY teachers and students created Bristle Bots from small toothbrush heads. These were in kits and the students had fun figuring out how to connect the wiring properly to set up the battery powered robots. They then worked on controlling the direction of the bot's movement by the placement of pipe cleaners, paperclips, or rubber bands. It was an activity that got them thinking about distribution of weight and so on...
Our next session was led by another of the college professors and his graduate assistant. Students were stoked when they learned they would be working with a team to build a robotic arm! The task involved students really working as a team and this forced kids to talk to students they didn't know and build a collaborative group. They used awesome tools to complete a multi-step process in design. It took a LOT of teamwork to actually build one of these in the time allotted. Not every group completed the task, but everyone walked away wanting to go home and re-create the task! These arms actually work in picking up objects! So much fun.
After our lunch break, we headed into our final (and longest) session of the day...Battle Bots. More robotics...these kids love it. Students were set up in pairs and were instructed to design a robot cover in about 5 minutes. They were given specific supplies and only 10 minutes to bring their design to life. Then, the pairs had to enter a ring (hula hoops on the floor) and place their cover on a Sphero Spark robot. They had just a minute or so to test out the robot and figure out their speed and controls. Then, they had to battle another team. We went by process of elimination in 4 hoops until we had a champion. The champions from throughout the other sessions battled it out in a grand finale at the close of the day. Can we say LOUD anyone?! The gymnasium was full of cheers as kids watched these teams battle it out. The outcome was a winning team comprised of two students from different schools! Isn't that awesome?!
We loaded the bus and arrived back at school just in time for dismissal. And boy was I exhausted! I must admit that it was fun to step out of my library cocoon for a day. Now to put my feet up.
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones! November just seems like it has flown by and as you noticed, I didn't do any blogging during our week off from school. My family took a trip to South Carolina (hope to share a little something from that trip in the future) and I just chose to spend the week enjoying my time away from school. But now that I'm back in the swing, I just keep thinking to myself, "why is it that I only seem to stay one step ahead?"
Do you ever have that feeling? The feeling that no matter how much planning you do, how much you organize, or how hard you work that it just seems you are barely staying afloat?
I have several projects I've started and few I've completed. Sad but true. Just keepin' it real, folks. I started my labeling for genrefication of my fiction section and I've only made it to the Cs. Seriously. I cleared out a massive storage room and got it almost completely done when I was told that it wouldn't be my space to use....yep, they are claiming it for a data room. Bummer. I started designing a plan to remove the circulation desk and transform the space into a more user-friendly area for students, but alas, plans have stalled. No money for the new seating I want.
Now lest I have you thinking you've stumbled on the Un-Happy Library website....I'm not down in the dumps about any of this. I realize I'm only one step ahead, but that is saying something! I am still happy to be where I am, doing what I love, and dreaming of how to make my little library the happiest it can be. And it so happens, one of the spaces that is connected to our library that was being used for storage of technology and outdated curriculum has been returned to me for our future STEM (a.k.a. maker) space! That's right....I get to clean out another area, but this time it will stay a part of our library.
With the long intro done, I want to show you what I'm working with!
Here is the doorway that connects to our library....you can see my board and my yellow story time chair off in the distance. When you enter this room, you can see there is some sturdy metal shelving against the walls. Some of the shelving will stay, but the one section you are looking at here will be moved. It might be hard to tell, but this room has an elevated floor section and that shelf is sitting in the path of the stairs. Look at all of that old guided reading stuff! Whew! I asked teachers to come and claim anything they wanted, so what you are seeing is AFTER the massive clean out by our staff....unreal. These paperback books will be donated to our school store or may be recycled. My plan here is to clear the wall and the pathway so that it is safe for students. I would also like to paint....more on that later.
In this picture, you see a direct view from the actual doorway of the library. The fact that there is an outside doorway and window is wonderful because it gives this dark space some light! And again, you can see how much metal shelving there is. I will keep the sections bolted to the wall on the left of this picture. I have discussed with my assistant principal and custodian the idea of keeping the other section (that is sitting up against the stage wall) but cutting it down with metal cutters. It would provide some valuable storage for STEM supplies, but by cutting it down lower, it would open up a line of sight for me and wouldn't block the natural light from the windows to the other side of the room. We will see if this happens. It might not work.
There is more of the old curriculum items to weed, plus the big blue box is just "junk" that needs to be hauled out. The old Eagle banner in the back needs to be removed and all of those clothespins need to be scraped off the wall. Can you imagine what a fresh coat of paint would do?!?
These two pictures are just spanning right from the view in Photo B and give a great view of the current space. This area is primarily an elevated stage and you can barely see the steps up on the right side in Photo C. The steps are wide and flat which is nice for little feet.
A lot of the technology equipment is being moved into the technology office. That will clear off that shelving unit in the back (which will probably stay in the space). The boxes of books in the foreground of these photos are books that were sorted by our upper grade level teachers and are now gone. They were moved into a book room in another location of the school.
I'm not sure about all of the heavy brown library furniture back here. I really want something lighter and more flexible, but I won't move it out just yet. I have to be sure I can replace it with something first. But I do want to be sure to open up as much floor space as possible for activities on the floor.
This is just another view of the stage area and step area. I'm still debating about that white wire shelf over there on the right....ideas?
And finally, a view from the stage itself. The room is actually quite spacious, but it looks so small due to all the tall shelves packed with materials. I have big dreams for this space....fresh paint, new STEM supplies, flexible seating.....
I plan to share this transformation with you all. One step at a time. And trust me, I'll only be one step ahead.
Who to follow: