The “Rental” that Changed the Library

This year, I transitioned out of classroom teacher and moved into the role of technology integrator at our middle school. Our district re-purposed the role of the “librarian.” My jobs include organizing and managing the library, supporting teachers with their use of technology, helping students with their technology and find ways to infuse all of it together.

One goal I have been working on this year is transforming the library. I did not want it to be a place where students just came to check out books and left. I’ve tried a variety of things to engage the students and make them “want” to come hang out/work in the library.

When I received my Mobile Lab package from Cue STEAMPunk (http://www.cue.org/steampunk), I spent the next two weeks trying to manage who could be in the library when.

I saw the opportunity to rent the STEAMPunk kit which consisted of 5 robotic balls, chargers and quick start lesson plans and I was instantly intrigued. Again, with working in a school, it isn’t like we had tons of money waiting to be spent. I was excited to be able to bring something new and exciting to my students.

When it arrived, I opened it up and began playing around with the Sphero-trying to learn its ins and outs, tricks and how to troubleshoot potential errors. Within minutes, it was passing time and the hallways were filled with students. I instantly thought, what a great time to introduce my Lane students to the Sphero and began driving it around throughout the halls.

Students stopped in their tracks, conversations ceased…everyone wanted to know, what was it and how was it moving. I quickly had students follow me back into the library. I briefly explained that I rented the Spheros from an amazing company — http://www.cue.org/steampunk — and I had them until December 4th. Instantly students were asking when they could come in and try them.

I made a sign up sheet for students to come in during lunch and their recess time. I’ve had students come up at lunch already this school year to work on coding or with some of the other tech tools I’ve had, but the excitement for the Spheros were different.

For the next week and a half, my library was packed at lunch. Students knew I only had five Spheros to work with, but they’d come up anyways and share while their friend ate lunch and vice versa. I had students spend time in the library that were never in there before this. Students interacting with other students they rarely speak to and an overwhelming sense of students wanting to learn more.

The Spheros were a great launch into our Hour of Code. I have numerous students asking for them for Christmas in hopes we can continue our lunch time Sphero Sessions. I also have now made the library a “cool place to hang out.”

So thank you to everyone at Cue for your amazing STEAMPunk Mobile lab and allowing me to inspire many 6th and 7th graders to want to learn more!