Ben Chambers Elementary School library bustles with STEM makers’ spaces

By Jennifer Fitch for heraldmailmedia.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Marybeth Maloskey played “library” as a child with a clothes hamper, encyclopedias and a rubber stamp, but the library she oversees today little resembles that setup.

The Ben Chambers Elementary School librarian eschews hushed, static learning in favor of hands-on projects related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) lessons.

Students in grades three to five are moving through the library’s five “makers’ spaces” this fall.

“You have to make it fun for them,” Maloskey said.

Students can practice coding skills, make and launch a rocket, create a game loosely based on a pinball machine, build structures with computer models and learn about the human body from a T-shirt embedded with microchips.

Kevin Demory, 10, demonstrated how IO Blocks show on an iPad screen how an object is formed, then require a user to re-create that object without formal instructions. He said some objects are more difficult than others.

Kevin said he has most enjoyed making the pinball-like game on paper plates.

“You can be creative in how you make it,” he said.

Some students made stories to explain how their games work, Maloskey said.

Overheard conversations between classmates indicate they are focused on the activities and using higher-order thinking skills, she said.

“With coding, I’m surprised there are as many girls as boys who love it,” she said.

Adriana Morales, 11, said she most enjoyed the Virtuali-Tee augmented-reality T-shirt. It allows students to scan a section of a skeleton to bring up a video explaining how internal organs work.

Maloskey said she wanted to develop more STEM offerings when she learned about workforce shortages in the fields.

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Melissa Bernard

Melissa Bernard

Melissa is Reading Kingdom’s community manager and mom to two daughters, 4 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 tortoises.She is also an advocate for children with special needs as her youngest daughter suffers from Cerebral Palsy.Another major passion for Melissa is animal welfare and she volunteers as a foster parent for stray and abandoned animals.
Melissa Bernard

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