Science plays role in summer reading programs at Alle-Kiski Valley public libraries
Not only will kids continue reading with public library summer reading programs, they will be brushing up on their science skills with this year's theme, “Fizz, Boom, Read!”
The nationwide theme selected by the Collaborative Summer Library Program combines reading with science experiments to help bridge the learning gap for students during summer vacation.
“I think it's the trend in the education community that's motivating all of this,” said Susan Wilson with the Community Library of Allegheny Valley. “At our weekly meetings, we'll do an experiment.”
The program began June 14 in the Harrison Branch.
Along with the science experiments, the program incorporates the arts and, of course, reading.
The library offers programs during the day and evening to accommodate all schedules. Students can register in person or over the phone with the library.
Wilson said she's excited to combine the subjects during the program.
“Continuity is what they're finding is helping with the children through the summer,” she said.
Wilson said students will be able to earn prizes through their reading.
“It kind of comes full circle,” she said.
The “Fizz, Boom, Read!” portion is for kids kindergarten through fifth grade. Another component for teens is called “Spark a Reaction” and is science-related.
Karen Crowell, children's librarian with the Oakmont Carnegie Library, is looking forward to incorporating science into the reading program.
“With the STEM initiative that's been sort of up and coming, it's nice to see,” she said.
STEM is an initiative in schools across the country that focuses on teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare students for careers in those fields.
“I just hope it brings more people in that might be interested in a different facet,” she said.
Crowell said kids will get a chance to learn about all things science — from plants to automobiles.
The “Fizz, Boom, Read!” program began June 7 in Oakmont, but registration is open through the end of June.
Vanessa Groholski, children's librarian with the Vandergrift Public Library, said its summer reading program will be similar.
“I've noticed a lot of the children commenting on it saying, ‘oh, cool, science,' ” she said. “I do think it's catching their interest to do the program.”
Vandergrift's “Fizz, Boom, Read!” program will be for kids 3 to 11 years old. The “Spark a Reaction” program will be for kids 12 to 14 years old. Registration runs through the end of June.
The program will be held July 1 through 30. A materials fee of $3 is required to help cover costs.
Groholski said all of the reading prizes will be science-related. Prizes will include mood changing slime, a lava lamp and squish balls that change colors. Other material related to science will be available.
“We always try to pull out all the books that are related to science and have them on display,” she said.
This is only the second year for the library's teen program and she hopes to see an interest in the “Spark a Reaction” program.
“I hope we will get more teens out,” she said.
Along with the “Fizz, Boom, Read!” children's program and the “Spark a Reaction” teen program, Springdale Free Public Library will also be offering a program for adults this year.
“Each week will be a different theme,” said Patti Wise, children's librarian.
The adult program will kick off at 6 p.m. June 25 with a crime scene investigation activity in conjunction with the Carnegie Science Center.
“They will come to show everybody exactly how CSI folks figure out the answer to the crime,” Wise said.
The adult program will consist of a book club, crafts and prizes.
Wise said the other programs begin June 24. Registration is required. Each week participants will get to learn about a different area of science.
“We're going to cover things that are yucky, like germs,” she said. “And sweet things, like how the wind works.”
Science and reading won't be the only skills participants work on this summer in Springdale. The younger kids will work on writing skills, while teens will work on public speaking skills.
Wise hopes incorporating other areas of study into this year's programs encourages participants to “branch out and do some research and reading into other topics.”
Wise said she always encourages participants to get a library card so they can take books home.
“It helps with their reading skills over the summer, so when they go back to school it's not like they are a couple months behind,” she said.
Fritz Fekete, communications consultant for the Pennsylvania State Educators Association, said the association is pleased to see science incorporated into summer programs this year.
“The STEM subjects are more and more, not only in demand, but encouraged,” he said. “Traditionally, we haven't had much opportunity for kids to participate in science-oriented summer programs.”
Fekete said it's important for students to continue learning during the summer.
“We've run across that children who don't read over the summer do tend to be a little bit behind when they enter school in the fall,” he said.
Fekete did credit the schools in the greater-Pittsburgh area for their programs.
“I would say that in schools, the Pittsburgh area has some of the finest and best programs in the country regarding science and technology, engineering, arts and math,” he said.
He stressed the importance of getting students in any kind of learning program during the summer, whether it be at a library, YMCA or community organization.
“The teaching community certainly encourages the use of those programs,” Fekete said. “We encourage parents to help their children succeed by enrolling them.”
Emily Balser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-7710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.