2021 Summer of STEM Teen Opportunities

The Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled will be hosting an 8-week STEM experience for teens 14 years and older this summer.  Have fun with physical science, engineering, math, coding, and earth science. Teens will discover how to work through the Engineering Design Process through different activities. We will be using hands-on STEM Activities based off of STEM Scale-Up Kits provided to the Library by the Iowa STEM Council. This program will also offer guest speakers focusing on STEM careers. 

Program Details

Dates: Thursdays; June 17th– August 5th
Time:  2:00pm – 4:00pm
Age: Teens 14 years and older
Location: Virtual via Zoom and/or in Person Experience at the Iowa Department for the Blind (524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, IA)
Register Here

Here is a glimpse of the different topics we will cover:

Physical Science

  • Explore slopes and surfaces as you are challenged to build a ramp that allows a skateboarder to go far—but not too far. 
  • Explore geometry, graphing, and the properties of materials as you are challenged to build a tent for Pam and her friends. 
  • Explore sound waves and vibrations to develop a phone that helps friends talk over a distance.

Engineering and Coding

  • Learn about fair tests to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different helicopter designs. You will use critical thinking, communication, and collaboration to build a helicopter.
  • Explore the basic needs of animals as you design a code for a programmable mouse to demonstrate your knowledge of everything a mouse needs to survive by following, writing and debugging code.

Earth Science 

  • Learn about water and erosion and gain an understanding of how forces change the shape of the land
  • Teens will explore the power of ocean waves and come up with a model to protect the beach from erosion.

Library Chat Podcast: May 2021

May’s Library Chat discusses the topic of gardening and the books and a podcast that help us to enjoy are gardens, flowers, yards and more. This episode we invited a special guest, library patron, and Master Gardner Roger Erpelding, to share his knowledge with us.  We also discuss an episode from the podcast Let’s Argue about Plants brought to you by the editors of Fine Gardening.  Episode 84 titled Underappreciated Plants for Spring discusses those plants that maybe are overlooked when we are planting.  Check out the library blog for a book list and more from the Library Chat May episode.

Library Chat:  May 2021 Book List

Animal, vegetable, miracle: a year of food life DB64800 by Barbara Kingsolver

The beginner’s guide to starting a garden: 326 fast, easy, affordable ways to transform your yard one project at a time DB87665 by Sally Roth

Climate-wise landscaping: practical actions for a sustainable future DB91615 by Sue Reed and Ginny Stibolt

Container gardener’s handbook: pots, techniques, and projects to transform any space DB96682 by Frances Tophill

Food lover’s garden: growing, cooking, and eating well DB88596 by Jenni Blackmore

Grow your own herbs: the 40 best culinary varieties for home gardens DB95988 by Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker

Grow: stories from the Urban Food Movement DBC03274 by Stephen Grace

Kitchen garden revival: a modern guide to creating a stylish small-scale, low-maintenance edible garden DB101179 by Nicole Burker

Roots, shoots, buckets & boots: gardening together with children DB78475 by Sharon Lovejoy

A way to garden: a hands-on primer for every season DB99339 by Margaret Roach

The bee-friendly garden: design an abundant, flower-filled yard that nurtures bees and supports biodiversity DB96127 by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn

Fiction books about gardens, but not gardening how-tos

The secret garden DB23638 by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The language of flowers: a novel DB74148 by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The forgotten garden: a novel DB70900 by Kate Morton

Prodigal summer: a novel DB51048 by Barbara Kingsolver

Also, check out the library’s monthly Library News podcast and Braille Bits podcast.  Check out the library’s Podcast Page for information on all the library’s podcasts and episodes.

Our Library Receives Regional Library of the Year Award

Picture of Library Staff
The staff of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled

The Iowa Department for the Blind is incredibly pleased to share that the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, a division of the Iowa Department for the Blind, has been named 2020-2021 Regional Library of the Year by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress. Our library provides reading materials in braille, audio, large print, and other alternative formats to Iowans of all ages who cannot read standard print. We also provide instructional materials in all alternative formats to pre-K12 students in Iowa schools through a grant from the Iowa Department of Education.

Once again, during a time of great challenge and uncertainty, our library embraced the challenges, kept services going, and even created new programs. Our library did not miss a day of sending out books, even during the early days of the pandemic. Our Instructional Materials Center ensured that all orders from schools for materials were filled in as timely a manner as possible to make sure that students struggling with online learning were not further set back by lack of textbooks and worksheets. We held online trainings for para-educators on braille, access technology, and library ordering that served over 30 para educators and provided a stipend to defer the cost of participation.  We created a new program called IDB Reads where narrators read and discussed books with patrons over the phone to help reduce isolation and create community. We took Maker Space Mondays and STEM and Stories Saturdays online. We have sent out materials and presented the programs live and via YouTube to the youth and families monthly.

As IDB Director, Emily Wharton, stated: “I’ve been telling our legislature, the Governor, and everyone who would listen how fantastic our library is and about all the wonderful things they are doing to empower blind Iowans of all ages.—especially the youth It is truly gratifying to see their hard work and dedication recognized by NLS.” Library Director, Sarah Willeford, shared: “I want to thank our entire team for their creativity and teamwork. Your passion for braille literacy, providing timely and abundant reading material for all patrons,, willingness to fight to make  sure students get high-quality educational materials, and ability to adapt to change continue to give me joy and energy.”

All Iowa Reads Author Visits – Iowa Center for the Book

The Iowa Center for the Book is excited to sponsor virtual visits in 2021 from each of the All Iowa Reads authors!

All Iowa Reads fosters a sense of unity through reading. Iowans are encouraged to come together in their communities to read and talk about a single book title in the same year.

There are three winning titles each year, an adult title, a teen title, and a kids title.  Starting this month, the authors of the winning selections will offer free virtual author visits to the public.  Each author will conduct three webinars each over the course of the next few months.

  • May 15th at 2:00pm:  Remy Lai, the author of the 2021 Kids All Iowa Reads title, Pie in the Sky will conduct the first of her free virtual webinars.
  • May 19th at 7:00 pm: Nickolas Butler, the author of the 2021 Adult All Iowa Reads title, Little Faith will conduct the first of his free virtual webinars.
  • Late June:  Randy Ribay, the author of the 2021 Teen All Iowa Reads title, Patron Saints of Nothing, is scheduled for his first free webinar.

All the webinars will be hosted by the Iowa Center for the Book and will last about an hour.  The author will discuss the book and answer questions from attendees submitted in the chat window during the webinar.

You can find more information, see the complete schedule of the virtual author visits, and register for the webinars at www.IowaCenterfortheBook.org/AIR.

Do you want to read the book before the webinar? Call the library and request them!  We have all three selections in audio, braille, and large print.

April Recap @ The Playground

On April 12th at our Makerspace Monday event, we touched and explored each strand of yarn softness, as we weaved and tied our Feathery Fun Macramé! Did you know a “chicken” has the longest feather and a “BEE Hummingbird” has the smallest feather? In fact, this little bird’s nest is the size of a quarter, kid you not! We also learned how to create hanging wall feather macramé art. Not only do we make incredibly “cool” stuff at the MakerSpace events but we also learn about science too.

Next, on April 17th for our STEM and Stories Saturday we met up with Cat, no, not a cat that goes meow, but our friend Cat Turner McAculiffe, TheraPets Coordinator from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. Cat shared with us all of the MANY wonderful animal programs that ARL does each and every day around the entire state of Iowa. Cat even introduced us to her parrot that talks! Thank you so much for joining our library for a visit Cat, we are fortunate to have you in our community doing all the good that you do for our furry little friends.

Coming up next month on May 10th for Makerspace Monday Event, we will be using clothespins, twine, and sparkles as we make a Springtime Clothespin Planter, just in time for Mother’s Day! Seeds will be sprouting on May 15th with guest Roger Erpelding, Master Gardner as he shares with us his love for gardening. Who knows, you may want to become a Master Gardner too.

Coming up in May @ the Playground

Makerspace Monday Virtual Event
Date and Time: May 10th 6:30 p.m.

Activity: Springtime Clothespin May Planter
Register Here

STEM and Stories Saturday Virtual Event
Date and Time: May 15th 10:00 p.m.

Activity: Roger Erpeling, Master Gardner
Register Here

Coming up this Summer!

2021 Tales and Travels Summer Reading Program
Dates: June 7, 2021 – August 6, 2021 on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays
Time: 1:00pm – 1:45pm
More Information
Register Here