Tag Archives: STEM Programs

Maker Monday

We’ve had to take a month off from Maker club due to scheduling issue, but this week we were back with a BANG! After a succesful Skype visit with another school in February, we rewarded their good behavior. They were able to make Jolly Rancher Roses.

How to make Jolly Rancher Roses


Some of our examples are above.

Supplies needed: Jolly Ranchers, Hot Water, Sticks (we were cheap and used popsicle sticks, wasn’t the most ideal), plastic to wrap the finished product in (plastic baggies), gloves, pot to store hot water, slotted spoons, and wet wipes.

Our thoughts:We loved this activity! I should have brought more than one pot for hot water. We learned that you should only take the jolly ranchers out of the water one time. If they harden too quickly, we were able to throw them back in the water.

PDE Standards: S8.C.1.1.2 Use characteristic physical or chemical properties to distinguish one substance from another (melting points)

Morse Code Activity

Instructions: Find a printout that translates Morse Code. Explain what Morse code it/how it developed. Looking for a way to introduce this? Here’s a funny video that has Morse Code being used in a prank (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWCQgLLtM_w). Students are then challenged to write a secret message in Morse Code.

Then, students can put their secret messages into the translator (http://morsecode.scphillips.com/translator.html) and their friends can try and guess the secret message.

Supplies needed: Printout with Morse Code language, computer, paper, pencil.

Our thoughts:Overall, it went very well. We focused on figuring out the first letter of each word in order to figure out the message successfully. We kept our messages to 3 words, because if they were longer it became to hard to figure out.

PDE Standards: 3.4.3.E4 Recognize that information and communication technology is the transfer of messages among people and/or machines over distances through the use of technology


Maker Monday

As my library embarks on its journey in makerspaces, I’ve noticed that there is a lack of activities tagged as “maker” activities. I am documenting our successful activities and posting our thoughts. In addition to that, I’ve also provided Pennsylvania state standards to help teachers and librarians starting their maker voyage.

Maker Monday.jpg

~~3D Book~~

Instructions can be found here: http://de-tout-et-de-rien-caroline.blogspot.com/2012/01/comment-fonctionne-le-tridimensionnel.html

Supplies needed: Red and Blue Markers, paper, 3D glasses

Our thoughts: I thought this activity would be too simple for middle school and they would be bored, but the kids loved it! I just put the markers out and told them that I wanted them to draw a 3D picture. Once their drawing was finished, I let them put on the glasses. Then, once they saw their finished product, they all asked to draw another picture to accentuate the 3D effects.

We had luck if they drew a picture in one color and then outlined it in the other color.

PDE Standards: 9.1.8.A Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works (form/shape)

3.4.7.C2 Explain how modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical solutions.


~~Simple Robotic hand~~

Instructions can be found here: http://www.aclassofone.blogspot.com/2013/12/apologia-anatomy-physiology-unit-three.html

Supplies needed:Cardstock (or manila folders), string, straws, tape, scissors

Our thoughts: This was an activity where I showed them the finished product and talked about animatronics that are often used in Disney rides and basic robotics. Some of the early versions that the kids made were to stiff, they did a great job of working together to fix each others problems.

PDE Standards:10.1.6.B Identify and describe the structure and function of the major body systems. (muscular and skeletal)

More Makerspace Activities

Looking for some more low tech Makerspace activities for your kids? Here are some that we’ve had luck with!

~~Code your name~~

Instructions can be found here:http://www.mamasmiles.com/stem-fun-for-kids/

Supplies needed:String, 3 different color beads.

Our thoughts: We really enjoyed this activity. I found a handout to help students write out the code for each letter of their names and figure out what it would be in binary code. The kids loved it. They had the choice to make a necklace or a keychain!

PDE Standards:  3.4.6.E4

Illustrate how communication systems are made up of a source, encoder, transmitter, receiver, decoder, and destination.

binary beads.JPG

~~Foam stamp blocks~~

Instructions can be found here: http://onegoldenapple.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-post.html

Supplies needed: Blocks, scissors, styrofoam plates (or foam, but plates are significantly cheaper), masking tape, and paint.

Our thoughts: We had fun with this. The students made stamps and we worked together to make mosaic-like tiles as a class. Our first instinct was to make detailed carvings and used a lot of paint on our plates, but we discoved that a simple carving with a light coat of paint worked very well.

When I introduce this activity, I use this opportunity to introduce the history of the “arts and crafts movement” and the Roycroft Artisan Community (http://www.thecraftsmanbungalow.com/elbert-hubbard-roycroft-campus/)

PDE Standards: 9.1.8.A Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities. (color • form/shape • line • space • texture)


9.2.8.C Relate works in the arts to varying styles and genre and to the periods in which they were created


Makerspace Activity Ideas

The maker movement is taking off in our library, and I wanted to share some activities and resources that have been successful for us so far. I present my makerspace as “maker challenge” time. I provide the resources, a description or picture of the end product, and let them go with minimal instruction. The kids love puzzling through these challenges.


  1. Making a duck call out of straws.

Instructions can be found here: https://sciencebob.com/make-a-simple-duck-call/

Supplies needed: Straws and scissors

Our thoughts:We love this activity! The kids had a blast thinking of ways to get the straw to make the necessary noise. A lot of creativity came out and a lot of teamwork resulted from this.

With one of our groups, the music teacher popped in to relay a message. Once he realized what we were doing, he quickly made one successfully and gave the kids some hints based on what he had taught them about instruments in music class.

Science connections:S7.C.3.1 Explain the principles of force and motion


2. Catapults!

Instructions can be found here: http://makeitatyourlibrary.org/play/easiest-mini-catapult-ever#.VnCRctIrKPQ

Supplies needed: Rubber Bands and Popsicle sticks

Our thoughts: I loved all the innovative designs that our students came up with.We began with the challenge of having students use the supplies available to create a catapult that can send a small item the farthest. Once we were ready to test their designs, we show them the ideal design and test theirs versus the design above.

Science connections: Simple machines. Standard – 10.5.6.E  Identify and use scientific principles that affect basic movement and skills using appropriate vocabulary.


3. Popsicle stick throwing stars

Instructions can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQyGDKklVPU

Supplies needed: Popsicle sticks

Our thoughts: This was an activity found by one of our 8th grade students. It was extremely well recieved and much harder than expected. Even with showing the instructional video, it took a while for students to successfully even make a simple star. It was incredibly entertaining to see the stars fall apart when they hit the hard target.

Science connections: 3.2.8.B2 Identify situations where kinetic energy is transformed into potential engery and vice versa.


Standards included come from PDE SAS (pdesas.org)