Tag Archives: STEM

AASL Recommended Apps: STEM: Desmos Graphing Calculator

The app Desmos Graphing Calculator is made to help students understand advanced math concepts. The app does this by putting them onto a graph with an x-axis and y-axis, also called a coordinate plane. “The built-in examples cover subjects such as lines, parabolas, trigonometry, conic sections, parametric equations, transformations, statistics, lists, and calculus.” Students can change variables manually, graph several functions at once, and save/share their work.

Level: High School +
Platform: iOS | Android
Cost: FREE

Common Sense Media has this post about the ways the app can be used, as well as suggestions for ways to use the app with students. This quick post from App Ed Review features instructional ideas to incorporate the app into the classroom.

This video (under 5 min) shows a quick tutorial on how to use Desmos Graphic Calculator:

Spotlight Program: Citizen Science Partnerships

At CMLE, we so enjoy all our different types of libraries, archives, and other members! Seeing all the work you are doing is so inspiring; and we want to return the favor by helping you to find some of the great programming going on around the profession.

Each week we will share an interesting program we find. It may inspire you to do exactly the same thing; or to try something related; or just to try out some different programming ideas. (On November 9, 2017, we will drop a podcast episode on Library Programming; you can tune in here to check it out! Or, of course, subscribe or stream to enjoy any of the episodes!)

Citizen Science Program

As a mulitype system, we are always enthused about partnerships and sharing across different types of libraries. This program sounded really fun – and a great way to share resources and skills across academic and public libraries.

Citizen science programs can be great ways to bring people into your  public library, and to get them involved with your resources. Adding in the expertise of an academic institution to bring in expertise just builds the interest! (Note that this is funded by an IMLS grant – yet another great program from this organization!! Tell your federal representative and senators to keep funding for libraries!)

Can you do some science? Are you interested in exploring this? Let’s talk! We can help you to find a member to partner with, and you can offer some new, exciting programs to your community!


ASU Citizen Science grant project ASU’s 2016 Citizen Science Maker Summit: (from left to right) Narendra Das, a research scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Dan Stanton, associate librarian for academic services at ASU Library and co-investigator on the grant; Darlene Cavalier, professor of practice in ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and principal investigator on the grant; Catherine Hoffman, managing director of SciStarter; Micah Lande, assistant professor and Tooker Professor at The Polytechnic School; and Brianne Fisher, former ASU graduate student. Download Full Image

Arizona State University aims to position public libraries as key facilitators of citizen science, a collaborative process between scientists and the general public to spur the collection of data.

Through a new grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), researchers from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and ASU Library will develop field-tested, replicable resource toolkits for public libraries to provide to everyday people contributing to real research, from right where they are.

Despite growing interest from public libraries to incorporate citizen science programming into their role as go-to community hubs, Dan Stanton, associate librarian for academic services at ASU Library, says there are no documented road maps, best practices or models to follow.

“Our project team is well equipped to address this need, as there is substantial expertise in the area of citizen science here at ASU,” said Stanton, co-investigator on the grant.

Led by Darlene Cavalier, a professor of practice in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the grant brings together an interdisciplinary team of faculty and librarians to build on previous work around citizen science — a practice rapidly gaining in popularity, particularly at ASU.

In 2016, ASU hosted the Citizen Science Maker Summit, organized by Cavalier, who is also the founder of SciStarter, an online platform and ASU research affiliate, where more than 1,600 citizen science projects are registered online and open for support and participation. The projects include everything from observing or recording natural phenomena to developing software or instrumentation.

Cavalier also serves on the National Academy of Sciences committee on citizen science and is the co-founder of the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network.

“We know from previous research that too frequently the lack of access to low-cost instruments, coupled with an unmet desire to feel part of a community, creates a barrier to entry for would-be citizen scientists,” Cavalier said. “We are grateful to IMLS for supporting our effort to understand how the characteristics and capacities of librarians, their local communities and the scientists who need help from those communities can be supported through public libraries.”

As part of the grant, ASU will partner with six Arizona public libraries representing a mix of urban and rural and youth and senior populations.

The toolkits that will be developed for the libraries will offer multiple entry points that acknowledge varying library capacities and diversity of patrons.

Risa Robinson, coordinator of the grant and the assistant director of learning services at ASU Library, says libraries are ideal conduits for citizen science.

“Citizen science represents the kind of low-cost but impactful programming public libraries have always provided,” she said.

“With the increasing demand for science literacy, the growing interest in citizen science and the library’s strong community anchor, this partnership makes sense.””

AASL Recommended App: STEM: Disaster Detector

This summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity.

The app Disaster Detector from Smithsonian Institution “teaches players how to analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and how to implement tools to mitigate the effects of those disasters.” Students work to protect the citizens of the town of Smithsonville by predicting and preparing for natural disasters.

Level: Middle School
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE

On the app’s website, you can find 6-8th grade level curriculum to use in the classroom, as well as some resources specifically for Earth and Space Science. PBS Learning Media has a quick description of the app and how it incorporates certain Educational Standards. Blogger Larry Ferlazzo who specializes in ELL/ESL websites writes in this post that the app looks to be accessible to ELL students and “would be an excellent game for students to play who are learning about natural disasters.”

The Smithsonian Science Education Center, which developed the Disaster Detector app, has their own YouTube channel, which you can find here. Watch their quick intro video below:

AASL Recommended App: STEM: Swift Playgrounds by Apple

This summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity. 


Swift Playgrounds by Apple is an app for iPads that makes “learning Swift interactive and fun.” Apple created the programming language Swift, and this app helps students master the basics, no coding experience required! The app also includes challenges that encourage students try more advanced creations.

You could incorporate this app into your classroom or media center by using it during the Hour of Code, Genius Hour, or in your makerspace.

CNET has a review of Swift Playground you can read here, and it sounds like the app can be fun for all ages! And this article from The Verge shares that kids can use their own coding from Swift Playground to “control any number of real-world toys and machines,” including robots and drones! Sounds like fun!

Level: Elementary +
Platform: iOS
Cost: FREE

Learn more and watch how the app works in this video:

Engineering books for young readers!

Getting students involved and interested in STEM activities from a young age is so important! If you are a library person working with young people, this article from UCL Engineering lists some titles you may find useful to encourage an interest in STEM topics:

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
“For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity.



Detective Dot by Sophie Deen
“Nine-year-old tech whizz Detective Dot has a dangerous new mission from the Children’s Intelligence Agency – investigate teenage trillionaire Shelly Belly. Dot’s going to have to use all her coding skills, cunning and gadgets to crack the case.”



Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
“Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer.”



The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
“Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?”