If you haven’t heard of STEM, you probably don’t know what a STEM kit is. But there are plenty of people who do, and some of their names are on a waiting list at the Collierville Burch Library.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. While these aren’t new subjects in schools or libraries, the STEM approach to teaching them allows students to apply the skills they’re learning to hands on projects and real life situations.
Collierville Burch Library Director Deanna Britton’s initial order was for 28 STEM kits to have available for check-out at the library.
“Once they were catalogued, those 28 were checked out within the week,” said Britton. “And there was a waiting list for when they came back in. So we ordered more.”
The STEM kits are backpacks containing one learning activity each. The kit contents include Codemaster, a game that teaches logic and coding skills; Cubelets, which are blocks for building a robot; and Google Cardboard, which allows users to travel the world and outer space. The library also has some STEAM kits available, which include creative arts activities like Kids Musical WordPad Piano.
The kits are contained within colorful backpacks, some of which also feature popular characters like the Minions.
“In the beginning, we just bought regular backpacks, but then I thought why not add to the experience by making them fun?” said Britton.
Each backpack contains not only the activity, but a laminated list of all of the contents and instructions on using them. Card- carrying Burch Library patrons can check the packs out for two weeks at a time.
“We made them available on a Friday, and within one week, with no real advertising, they were all checked out,” said Britton. “As soon as one is returned, they go right back out because they are on hold for someone else.”
The Library staff keeps a notebook at the front desk with a page for each STEM kit and what is in it. For more detailed information about the STEM/STEAM backpacks, click here.