Simple Ideas for S.T.E.M. Programming in Libraries

Welcome to Simply S.T.E.M. There is a growing movement to include more S.T.E.M. content in library programming. But ideas that work in a classroom don't always work in a library. A librarian could spend hours searching websites and Pinterest for activities and still have to pull it all together in a program plan. This wiki is a place where librarians can share and find complete plans as well as more general ideas. Please add your ideas and favorite resources! Also, be sure to let us know what works for you if you use ideas you find here.

What is S.T.E.M.?

S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. But S.T.E.M. programming is more than just helping kids discover new facts about the world around them. It is about promoting a deeper understanding of concepts and scientific practices.

Why S.T.E.M. is important:

The National Math and Science Initiative provides a great summary in their publication, Why STEM Education Matters. Some of the highlights are:
  • That's where the jobs are, and they are higher paying jobs.
  • The U.S. is failing to produce enough STEM workers.
  • American students are not keeping up with their peers around the world.

The authors of STEM Lesson Essentials: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics describe the goal of S.T.E.M. education slightly differently:

"The main goal of STEM education is not for students to become mathematicians, scientists, technicians, or engineers; although it would be great if more of our youth had such aspirations. The goal is for all students to be able to function and thrive in our highly technological world--that is, to be STEM literate." (p. 9)

Why should libraries be involved?

Because libraries already are providing quality educational programs for children and families. Libraries are dedicated to matching people with information. Our nonfiction collections already have some fabulous S.T.E.M. titles. Why should we exclude those from our programming in favor of only fiction or picture books?

What about literature and the arts?

S.T.E.M. and the arts are not mutually exclusive. In fact, for S.T.E.M. programs to really be successful, they should integrate concepts across the disciplines. The best S.T.E.M. programs are cross-disciplinary. And who says you can't include reading a good book as part of your program?