Where do librarians get resources to support subjects related to STEM? In the IASL session entitled, “Supporting STEM Education in the School Library with Digital Tools,” presenters Johnston, Green, Thompson and Jones offer various websites, applications and digital tools to complement, enhance and support subjects such as math and science.
Johnston points out that while studies show that librarians have the opportunity to play pivotal role in collaboration in STEM subjects, they often do not. Her own research, conducted in the South Eastern states, she found that librarians felt that they lacked the, “knowledge and skills and ability to support STEM” (Johnston, Green, Thompson & Jones, 2021). While this research and project was directed at rural schools, all librarians can benefit from the tools. They are all free, which removes any financial strain. As a choir director who regularly purchases games, slides and templates from Teachers Pay Teachers, Johnston warns against using this resource. Her reasoning is that the library needs to provide resources that are vetted, accurate and high in quality. Lastly, why pay money when there are many high quality resources out there for free?
This type of collaboration and promotion of curated digital tools is clearly delineated in the Texas Library Standards. Strand 4: Dimension 1 states, “The library program effectively uses and promotes the use of technology applications and tools across all content areas for discovery, collaboration, critical analysis, creation, and presentation of learning” (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2017).
- Concord Consortium – Offers interactive and free STEM activites for the classroom; five subjects which include physics and chemistry, engineering, earth and space, and mathematics. Has the option to filter between elementary, middle, high school and beyond and to filter by type – https://learn.concord.org/
- OER Commons – is an open educational resource that functions as a hub for thousands of digital resources that include STEM subjects and more. Some subjects include ELA, law, physical and social science and arts and humanities. Many of the resources have star ratings and offer such information as the level, and the standards it addresses – https://www.oercommons.org/hubs/imls
- Explore.org offers live webcams of different animals. Can be used to make connections to various lessons in science. There are an impressive amount of animal cams, ranging from cameras of bears, whales, orcas and birds (See Image 1).As example of the sheer volume, Nestflix has 48 streams of birds that include the bald eagle, spoonbills and hummingbirds.https://explore.org/livecams
- NASA for students – offers a plethora of resources that deal with science, space, and more. The top part of this page offers drop down lists of topics, missions and galleries. The user is able to select the grade range for resources as well as search. In the NASA for students in 5th -8th grade, as you scroll down, there are additional sections that offer homework help, and stuff to make, do or print.
- Engineer tech- Open Educational Resource that offers simulations of such concepts as how transformers work, how conductors work and Voltage, Peaks, Cycles, and Periods in Electricity. For the teacher or librarian, it offers a classroom guide on how to use these simulations in the classroom. https://engineertech.org/
- MIT Blossoms – Engaging resource that offers math, science and engineering videos for high school students. Topics include biology, chemistry, engineering, mathemathics and physics. https://blossoms.mit.edu/mit_blossoms_initiative_math_science_video_lessons_high_school_students
- Phet simulations – offer interactive simulations for science and math. Include subjects such as physics, chemistry, math, earth science and biology. In addition to provding simulations, it also offers tips for using the website. https://phet.colorado.edu/
- Neal.fun- is an engaging and fun way to expose math statistics to students. Options include typing in one’s birthday to discover – how many red blood your body has produce, how many times you have blinked and many days of your life you have been asleep (See Image 2). https://neal.fun/
These are just a fraction of the digital tools presented at this presentation. I must admit that I do not feel entirely comfortable and ready to provide instructional assistance across the STEM courses and subjects. However, this presentation offered so many tools for me and other librarians and future librarians. This in turn, gives us the confidence and “tools” for our “STEM toolbox.” With these resources, the librarian can truly provide engaging and enriching technology tools across all subjects.
Johnston, M., Green, L., Thompson, E., Jones, A. (2021, July 12-16). Supporting STEM education in the school library with Digital Tools. [Conference session]. IASL 2021 Annual Conference, Denton, TX, United States. https://iasl-online.org/event-3667867
Texas State Library and Archives Commission. (2017). Texas school library standards: Strand 4: Dimenstion 1. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/schoollibs/sls/Texas%20School%20Library%20Standards%20E-Version%20FINAL.pdf