I was tempted to title this post, “It’s Not Your Mother’s Library,” because the wonderful learning environment described in Amy Koester’s “All Things STEAM” is a long way from the rigidly silent libraries of my childhood. Instead, her website is a wonderful exercise in multi-layered creativity. Amy has used her own creativity to envision a new kind of library that encourages young people’s flexible thinking about science, math, engineering, and the arts. What more could I want?
The site includes activities linking science to literature, from preschool on up. I absolutely loved the Strength and Materials with the 3 Little Pigs activity. Envision young children listening to The 3 Little Pigs, then building houses of straws, unsharpened pencils and Duplo blocks, then testing them to see how they stand up to the “huffing and puffing” of a hair dryer. And the Body Science with Parts made me smile, probably because just thinking about the book Parts is so much fun. (If you don’t know Ted Arnold’s delightful rhyming book about a boy who is afraid he must be falling apart, you really should.)
All Things STEAM activities for older students are more non-fiction based but just as interesting. Imagine tying information on the Titanic to science activities on displacement and floating/sinking. The website also includes links to other helpful STEAM sites, useful for any science/engineering teacher.
But just as important, All Things STEAM made me think again about the potential ties across disciplines that help students see the world in multi-dimensional ways. When teaching literature, how often does it occur to me to tie it to science? Or when teaching literature, how much science do I consider? I’m feeling inspired to take a look at the young people’s books around me to see how many disciplines I can find in their core ideas. How about a physics teacher and a literature teacher collaborating to study Power in Macbeth and science? It sounds like an interesting creative thinking exercise for students and teachers alike.
Have you seen students thinking creatively when you taught across disciplines? We’d love to hear about it.