Time for STEAM: Exploring the Great Outdoors & Trying New Activities for All Ages

Posted on March 9, 2022 at 6:00 am

By Alison Johnson

Spring is just a few weeks away! I am looking forward to getting outside and enjoying some sunshine.

If, for you, spring is all about sunshine and projects, the library has some great STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) resources and programs to get the whole family learning and creating both inside and outside.

STEM Kits for Exploring

The library has a plethora of Ready for School with STEM kits for ages 3–5 and STEM Explorer kits for kids in grades K–5 that give kids the opportunity to explore concepts of science, nature, robotics, engineering, and math, just to name a few!

You can try the STEM Explorer: Explore the Outdoors Kit 1 and Kit 2 to get you out into the sunshine, exploring on land and in water. It is perfect for venturing around parks and backyards with an explorer scope and an aqua viewer letting you see things both up close and underwater! The aqua viewer can actually be submerged to get a closer look at tadpoles, rocks, and algae under water. With the explorer scope, you are able to see the close-up details of flora and fauna on land such as a leaf or ant!

Other STEM Explorer kits for kids in grades K–5:

For kids ages 3–5, check out these Ready for School with STEM kits:

A great book to have on hand as you are exploring is Exploring Nature: Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors, by Kim Andrews and illustrated by Katy Dockrill.

You can also read the post DIY Earth Day Outdoor and Indoor Celebrations, written by my colleague Abra. You’ll find a nature scavenger hunt printout and some other nature-related activities that you can try.

If the rain is pouring and you want to stay indoors, try my favorite STEM activity—the Ozobot kit. You get to operate and code a miniature robot that can read colors. Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

Ozobots are great because you can choose to do the preplanned activities or get creative and make your own. Ozobots read colors with sensors in their feet. You can draw a route and instructions for it with color codes just by using the included markers and some paper. Did I mention they are incredibly cute with their flashing lights and you can program them to do a little dance?

Earth Week BioBlitz 2022

Our Earth Week BioBlitz celebration, April 17–23, gives you a chance to explore nature and get some time outdoors, hopefully in the sunshine. I encourage you to sign up for our nature-themed programs all week long. You can also explore plants, animals, and insects anywhere you are to share on the iNaturalist app and webpage at www.scld.org/bioblitz-2022.

Here are this year’s Earth Week BioBlitz events. Learn more and sign up for them at www.scld.org/bioblitz-programs.

BioBlitz 2022: Explore Nature’s Plants & Creatures
For all ages
Using iNaturalist: www.scld.org/bioblitz-2022
Observation Days: April 17–23
No registration needed—explore where you are & share!

Nature’s Recyclers: Mealworms
For all ages
Presented by West Valley Outdoor Learning Center
Tuesday, Apr 19, 4–5pm | REGISTER

Waikiki Springs Nature Hike
For adults
Led by Inland Northwest Land Conservancy
Wednesday, Apr 20, 2–5pm | REGISTER

Outdoor BioBlitz Celebration at Mirabeau Meadows
For all ages
13500 Mirabeau Pkwy (Spokane Valley)
Saturday, Apr 23, 10am–2pm
No registration needed—drop by & explore with us!

To combine nature, science, and art, grab a drawing pad or blank journal, or staple some blank pages together, to log your findings and add drawings of what you see when you explore. For additional inspiration and new techniques for drawing and painting, check out Creativebug for daily lessons and classes you can take at your own pace.

If you could use some eBooks and audiobooks all about the great outdoors, we have several curated OverDrive booklists you’ll want to look at:

New in the Library of Things

Some people love spring cleaning and repair projects. And some of us dread the spring to-do list. In either case, the library might have a gadget you can use.

One of our newest additions for the electronics hobbyist, the do-it-yourselfer, and the handyperson is the digital multimeter! The machine can look a bit cryptic and intimidating at first glance, but it is useful for a variety of electronic problems and projects.

It can test batteries, check extension cords, and more! It may even make those spring projects a bit easier by letting you investigate if those batteries can be recycled or that lamp in your closet is worth keeping.

Get an in-person, up-close look at the digital multimeter at two upcoming events where we give a hands-on demonstration of what it can do and how it works.

Library of Things: The Digital Multimeter
For teens & adults
Saturday, Mar 12, 2–3:30pm | REGISTER
Tuesday, Apr 19, 3–4:30pm
Wednesday, May 11, 6–7:30pm

Get Current with Basic Electronics
For kids ages 8–12
Wednesday, Mar 23, 3–4:30pm | REGISTER
Saturday, Apr 9, 10am–12pm
Saturday, May 14, 10am–12pm

If you can’t make it to these programs, you can find on-demand videos on our digital resource LinkedIn Learning. A simple search for the keyword “multimeter” within this resource gives you a wide range of courses and videos covering pretty much everything you could do with the multimeter tool.

While you’re there take a look at what else you can learn from LinkedIn Learning. The courses cover an array of skills, subjects, and software for topics in business, technology, and even creative endeavors such as drawing.

Also at The Lab and back by popular demand is this great STEAM program:

Take It Apart
For kids in grades K+, tweens, teens & adults
Saturday, Mar 26, 10am–12pm | REGISTER
Saturday, Apr 23, 10am–12pm
Saturday, May 28, 10am–12pm

The library can help you explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) with books, gadgets, programs, and online resources. I invite you to check out what we have to offer!

Librarian Alison Johnson

Alison Johnson is an Education and Enrichment Librarian who creates programming and events for ages 8–18. This means she gets to play with everything, including paint messes and mini robots. When she has free time she enjoys watching anything science fiction, hiking trails, and reading with a cup of tea.

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