YA Clicks February 2018

Full STEAM Ahead

Jessica Farrow and the Web Surfers from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) has been on the rise in the past several years, with schools, libraries, and organizations looking for ways to promote these subjects and give the next generation the tools they need to shape the world around them. While many libraries, schools, and other organizations focus on STEM subjects because of the growth of new technologies, incorporating the arts into STEM programming can help teens engage with the materials in new ways, allow for creative outlets, and establish a broader view of the presented information. Often, careers that teens may one day pursue require a blending of STEM with the arts, and, although arts funding is often at risk in schools, incorporating it into other subjects can bolster understanding and appreciation of both science and art. Here are some of the Websurfers top picks for STEAM sites that go beyond stacks of worksheets and help teens engage and explore STEAM in new and exciting ways.

Through YA Eyes

NASA For Students

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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If you are in any way curious about what engineers, scientists, astronomers, oceanographers, marine or environmental biologists, or astronauts do, then NASA for Students is perfect for you. Everything you could hope to learn from NASA is there, explained in terms that you don’t need a doctorate in aerospace engineering to understand. Want to read about what’s happening on the International Space Station? Or desire to check in on what the Juno mission is up to? NASA for Students is the place, with plentiful pictures and numerous links showing the way. Topics from all over the various and widespread disciplines NASA studies are on the site. You can see what to expect in the sky, where to find your local constellations, or what the most liked Instagram NASA posts of 2017 were. Information is divided into school years so that you can check out news tailored to your specific age group. Also available are opportunities for internships for all levels of high school, for during the summer or over the school year. That barely scratches the surface of what NASA for Students has to offer. There are so many things to look for on this website that the best thing to do is hop on there and explore all the different tools and portals that interest you.—Eliza Falk

DIY Projects for Teens

DIY Projects for Teens

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For teens looking for their next project, DIY Projects for Teens is the perfect go-to site. It collects craft, experiment, and fashion tutorials from all over the web and puts them in easy to navigate lists and collections. Each idea is pictured with a link to the blog or site from where the idea originated. The downside is, this means you have to click through to get the directions, but it’s an easy way to collect lots of good ideas without having directions for each taking up space as users are reading through. The tabs at the top also make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for or narrow down projects in which they may be interested. The tabs have five categories: “DIY & How To,” “Creative Crafts,” “Fun Food,” “Style and Fashion,” and “Cool Videos,” which are then further divided by the types of crafts and ideas within each category. While the list titles can, at times, seem a bit like clickbait, the variety of options, as well as the fact that the links take you directly to the directions, rather than forcing you to click through ads or sign up for an account, make them very useful. The ideas are things teens are interested in, aren’t too difficult or expensive to do at home, and range from science and tech-related crafts to art and fashion ideas, so there’s something for everyone. For teens looking for a way to banish boredom or try something new, this site is a great place to start.

Exploratorium

Exploratorium

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This website offers a variety of interactive and engaging websites as well as activities to bring out your inner brainiac. Exploratorium provides an extensive selection of blogs, activities, videos, and websites to educate users on topics ranging from mathematics to language and speech. Activities, such as making rock candy and building a soda can mirror, keep users scrolling for hours. Meanwhile, users can find more informative, research-based articles under the “Blogs” tab. The website’s wide variety of topics makes up for the simplistic design, and its accessibility makes it very easy to locate information. Users can access all key information in the drop-down menu located at the top of the homepage. Exploratorium also acts as a directory for other links when users want to find more in-depth information. Overall, this site is a great place for individuals to expand their knowledge and apply what they have learned to their lives.–Jessica Irving

Kudos for Library Teen Sites

OCPL Teens

Oldham County Public Library

The Oldham County Public Library Teen page is minimalist in the best sense of the word. The large rotating banner at the top showcases their top teen programs and the row of visually appealing icons below link to everything from the Teen Librarian’s email to their newsletter and social media. The webpage is designed to educate teens on what the Oldham County Library has to offer without being overwhelming or difficult to navigate. It also showcases the wide variety of options available to OCPL’s teens. The anime club is highlighted using teen artwork. The writer and gamer groups are designated just for teens, rather than lumping aspiring teen authors in with the adult groups. The “Volunteer at the Library” and “Teen Calendar” tabs also demonstrate the importance that OCPL places on teen volunteering. They are giving interested teens a number of ways to get involved and give back, including through helping younger students with their reading, science, and math skills through buddy programs such as “Crazy Eights,” “Book Besties,” and “Maker Mondays.” Teens have a chance to earn much-needed volunteer hours and to act as mentors and role models for children while allowing the library to offer a wider range of programming.

In addition to offering teen-only groups and programming, they also go out of their way to make their online presence teen-focused. While it’s easy to get to the full system calendar and view all ages, the main teen page has a prominent link to a teen-specific calendar, as well as a monthly Teen Programming Newsletter. They also have dedicated teen Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts, allowing teens to stay up-to-date with announcements and updates about their programs without being inundated with adult and children’s news. The posts on their social media are written in a friendly, sometimes joking style that makes them much more personable than rote, and likely appealing to teens. The “Contact Mr. James” link is also wonderful, as it not only puts a name to the face that many teens likely see at programs and around the branches but also gives them an easy point of contact for any questions or concerns. The layout, design, and overall inviting nature of Oldham County Public Library’s teen page and social media make it not only easy to use but also presents the library as a place interested in and designed for teens.

Jessica Farrow is a youth services librarian with the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University.

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