Scoop Q and A: Clark-Pleasant Middle School STEM lab media specialist

Students at Clark-Pleasant Middle School can get creative and work on their STEM skills at a lab in their school.

The school has a STEM lab in the library.

Stacey Kern, media specialist, tells you what you need to know about the lab.

What is the lab?

A designated space in the library media center where students are encouraged to explore STEM and STEAM topics and create independently. The plan is to add different and new activities to the space as it develops according to student interest.

How did you get the idea to have a STEM lab?

I attended maker space sessions at library conferences, participated in maker webinars and read several books on the topic when I heard that some other school libraries had opened their own maker spaces.

What activities can the students do?

Our most popular activities have Snap Circuit and Little Bits kits, which allow students to explore circuitry. We’ve also had success with simple engineering challenges employing the use of plastic cups, cardboard, Legos and even discarded library books. I am really excited to get started this year as we have some new Rube Goldberg machine challenges and robotic challenges.

How often can students use the lab?

Right now we hold weekly Munch then Make sessions that allow students to participate after they finish lunch. New this September will be weekly Maker Monday after-school sessions. Students have also been able to access the space a bit during classroom visits to the library media center.

How is it funded?

So far, we have funded the space with Barnes and Noble book fair profits as well as some school funding. We have also been able to operate with generous donations from families and staff.

When did the lab become available to students?

We opened the space in January.

What do you hope students get from the lab?

I would love to see students taking the time to explore through participating in maker activities and then going on to build on those activities through independent study. The idea is that activities in the space are there because students express interest in them. I would love to see our students facilitating sessions where they teach and learn from one another.

What was the process of getting the lab ready?

Once I educated myself on the topic and researched maker activities that fit with a modest budget, I talked to my building principal. He supported the idea of starting small and building the space as interest grew.