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Fair Oaks second graders learn participate in STEM activities during School Library Month

Second graders at Fair Oaks Elementary School participated in various Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-related activities, led by Library Media Specialist Rachel Ortiz, during a recent visit to their media center during School Library Month. 

Students learned about and discussed important STEM lessons from Ortiz, including what a hypothesis is and the qualities of a good scientist. They implemented what they learned while conducting an experiment to learn what effect water would have on a Skittle.

The students began by sketching what they believed would happen when dropping a Skittle in a cup of water. Some students hypothesized that the Skittle would sink, while others thought that the Skittle would lose all of its color. The students then conducted the first experiment, illustrating their observations on their worksheets. Ortiz moved around the room, interacting with each student and encouraging them to use their different senses to make observations.

In their second experiment, the second graders worked together in small groups to arrange the Skittles in a circle on a paper plate, dumping water in the middle of them. They repeated their hypothesis and observation process, becoming very excited when their hypotheses were proved correct.

Following the Skittles experiments, the students broke into smaller groups to participate in other STEM station activities, such as working together to complete puzzles, building animals that could move, completing construction challenges, using Kiva Planks to learn about architecture, building with straws, cup stacking, building a fort using blocks and creating a mosaic out of stickers. Students were able to use their creativity and the important STEM lessons they learned from Ortiz. 

The opportunity to use their creativity in their school library is nothing new for these students. Scholars of all ages at Fair Oaks Elementary have the opportunity to participate in fun activities in the media center, such as the bookmark decorating contest earlier this year and picking out books to check out each week. 

“School libraries are important because they are a place for all students. They are welcoming spaces where students can feel like they belong. Fair Oaks is so lucky to have a great collection of books and we have a lot of STEM materials that can provide hands-on learning,” Ortiz said. “The library gives students a chance to find their strengths and interests, whether that be through a book or using some of our hands-on STEM materials. I really do believe I have the best job.”