STEAM kits can be picked up at the library any time during regular business hours, follow along at home using the instructions in your kit and the Youtube videos below! Every month we will be adding new projects for you to take home so there’s always something new to learn. 

Current STEAM projects: 

STEAM heart model 

STEAM water strider 


Past STEAM projects: 

Cheese making 

You will need to gather from home one gallon of whole milk (not UHT), a teaspoon of salt, one cup of unchlorinated water, 1/2 teaspoon measure, large colander and bowl, a spoon or ladle, a long knife to cut curds, a food thermometer, large pot, stove, and large microwaveable bowl and microwave (or second pot, water, and heat safe bowl).  We will use the rennet tablet and citric acid from the kit.

Here is a link to a good set of written instructions with pictures for microwave use. Use the whole rennet tablet instead of 1/4th of a tablet like in this set of directions.

If you are not going to use a microwave, here is a set of stove-top only directions.  Again, use the whole rennet tablet instead of 1/4th like in the directions.

Here is the list of ingredients in the rennet tablet.  WalcoRen natural rennet tablets: salt, natural calf rennet powder with min. 97% Chymosin, activity: 925 IMU



STEAM week 7: Circuit Bugs


The kit from the Everett Free Library should include one clothespin, one battery, two wires, two LEDs, and ten chenille sticks (pipe cleaners).  You will need electrical tape and maybe scissors from home.

Today we will be making a small series circuit for our bug’s eyes.  A series circuit is a circuit that has multiple resistors in a chain.  In this example the resistors are the lights.  The lights are connected in a line with only one path for the electricity to follow.  These will be like a strand of Christmas lights.  If one goes out everything will go out and you will need to find where the break in the circuit is.  

Start by testing each LED.  Touch one wire to each side of the battery.  Make note of which wire (short or long) needs to touch the negative (-) side and which needs to touch the positive (+) side.  The short side probably needs to touch the negative side and the long side probably needs to touch the positive side.  I found it easy to bend the side that needs to touch the positive end.  

Split the short bare end of the black wire into two bunches.  Wrap one bunch around the short wire of the LED.  Check to make sure your light turns on with the battery.  If it works, wrap your connection in electrical tape.  Do the same with the short end on the other LED.  Check with the battery to make sure that both lights turn on when connecting the free bent wires to one side of the battery and the copper wire to the other side.  If both lights come on you are ready to move on to the next step!  

Split the short bare end of the red wire and wrap one bunch on the free wire of one LED.  Check to see that it lights up when you touch the red and black wires to the battery.  If it does, wrap your connection in electrical tape. Do the same with the other free LED wire.  Check to make sure that both batteries light up.  If they do, you are ready to move on to the next step!  If they don’t, check your battery both directions and check all your connections.

Once your lights work with the wires connected to your LEDs you are ready to make your bug!  Place the LEDs on the end of the clothespin that you pinch with your fingers.  Tape the side with wire to the outside of each side of the clothespin.  The joined section of the two lights should be between the sides of the clothespin.  Check your lights with the battery to make sure that all of your connections are still secure.

Wrap each wire down the individual sides of the clothespin.  End with the long end of exposed wire wrapped around the end of the clothespin that pinches clothes.  This is the tail end of your bug.  You want to keep it out of the groves so that it will reach the battery.  Check your lights with the battery pinched in the clothespin and tape the wires in place.  If everything works you are ready to decorate your bug!

Wrap your clothespin in the chenille sticks in whatever colors you like!  Half lengths work well for legs.  Feel free to add wings, legs, antenna, and tails!  Just make sure that you have room at the tail end to insert and remove the battery.  You will turn off the eyes by removing the battery.  Have fun!

As always, we meet Wednesdays at 2 on Zoom.  The meeting id is: 874 4889 0214.  If you are trying to access the Zoom meeting and having trouble, please call the Everett Free Library at (814)652-5922.



STEAM week 6:  Suspension bridge

The kit from the Everett Free Library should have one piece of cereal box, four toilet paper tubes, and a baggie with two pieces of string and several rubber bands. You will need from home some tape (painters tape is good to avoid residue on your floor or table), scissors, and a hole punch.

A suspension bridge is a special kind of bridge that is held up by cables instead of pillars underneath.  They can often go over wider areas and withstand earthquakes better than traditional bridges. 

Start by trimming your cardboard to the size you want your bridge.  Be sure to leave enough length to make ramps from the ground up to the bridge.  You can experiment by adding more pieces of cardboard to your bridge to make it longer.  See how long of a bridge you can get! 

Bend each end down to make the ramps.  Use the hole punch to make several holes along each edge.  Be sure to have one in each corner where the ramp bends down.  Use the rubber bands to make the vertical cables.  Pinch a rubber band in half and thread it through a hole.  Loop the bottom end up around the edge and thread it through the top loop and pull it tight.  Thread one string through the rubber band loops on each edge.  Set aside.

Cut two slits in one end of each toilet paper tube not quite 1” deep and not quite 1” apart.  This will be where the string sits.  These will be your towers that support the cables of the bridge.  

Lay out each part of your bridge.  Arrange the towers near the ramps.  Turn them so that the slits are parallel with the string.  Thread the strings through the towers and pull them tight.  Tape each end down to your floor or table.  The bridge should be suspended in the air.  Tape the ends of the ramps to the table or floor.  Now it is ready for cars!


STEAM week 5: Milk plastic


The kit from the Everett Free Library should have a wooden skewer and a piece of wax paper.  You will need to gather from home 1 cup of milk, vinegar, a microwaveable bowl, a strainer and corresponding bowl, paper towels, a spoon, and a teaspoon.  You may wish to make a larger batch by doubling, tripling, etc. this recipe.  You can also make one batch and immediately make a second if one does not yield enough material for your shapes.  Optional items are cookie cutters or small molds in fun shapes, food coloring, and glitter.  Markers or paint may be used for decoration later. 

I recommend watching this short video from the American Chemical Society on the development of milk plastics for commercial use.

Today we are not making clear plastic film like in the video but rather a hard plastic for toys, tree decorations, beads, etc. 

Start by pouring one cup of milk in a microwaveable bowl (or pan for stovetop) and heat it until it is warm.  You want the milk to be nearly steaming, but not too hot to touch.  Times will vary for different machines.  Just check your milk to be sure it does not boil over.  When your milk is warm add four teaspoons of vinegar and stir.  You should have separation of the solids in milk and the liquid whey.  This shows you that milk is a suspension of opaque solids rather than a white liquid. 

Stir until you have complete separation (when the liquid is no longer white).  Spoon out the solids onto a paper towel or pour through a sieve lined with a paper towel, cheese cloth, old tee shirt, etc.  Drain away as much liquid as possible and then knead the white solids.  When you start kneading it will probably be crumbly.  Keep going until you get a sticky paste with few small lumps.  You know you are done kneading when you can make a ball and it doesn’t fall apart.

You can add color to your plastic at this point if you wish.  You could also add glitter or other tiny items.  Shape your plastic how you want it to be.  I made several beads by making balls and threading a wooden skewer through them for the holes.  You could use cookie cutters to cut out shapes or use small molds.  Let your shapes dry on the waxed paper.  This may take two days or more depending on how large your items are.  After they are dry you can color them with markers or paint.  Maybe make some ornaments to hang on your window for each season. 


STEAM week 4:


Twisting cord:

This will be easiest starting with materials that do not have any twist to them.  Raffia will be easier to start with than multiple stranded string but is very possible to use either.

Start by folding one long piece of raffia in half.  Pinch the loop as big or small as you want it in your non-dominant hand.  Use your dominant hand to do the twisting.  Start with the piece closest to you.  Roll it between your thumb and first finger toward you.  Then flip it over the other piece away from you.  Move your thumb holding the loop down a little bit to keep the piece you flipped over in place.  Start again with the piece now closest to you.  Roll it between your thumb and first finger toward you and flip it over the other piece away from you.  You want to create the twist on each individual strand in the opposite direction of the twist of the finished cord.  The opposing forces will help keep your cord from unraveling.  Continue until your cord is as long as you want. 

You can add beads to the individual strands while you are twisting to keep them in place on your cord or over all the strands to allow them to move.  You will know you are doing it correctly if your cord does not unravel when you let go of it.  You should be able to set your project down and pick it back up later without it coming undone.  After your cord is as long as you would like it you can tie off the end or tie it around your wrist or ankle.  Your cord will unravel some after use if you do not tie it off. 

Try again with three strands or more.  Just twist the strand closest to you over the other two and continue as before. 

If you choose to use a pretwisted material for your cord you will need to twist them in the direction they already are.  Make sure that all of your strands are twisted in the same direction.  They will not be nice to work with if they aren’t. 

STEAM week 3: 

Making a worm farm:
Gather your materials. Kit from the Everett Free Library should have 1 bag of sand, 1 2 liter bottle, 1 ~16
oz. bottle, a brown paper bag, and a bag of worms. You will need to gather from home a shovel of dirt,
scissors, duct tape, water, a hammer and nail or other way to make some holes, and some food scraps.
Use the nail to poke some small holes (smaller than your worms) near the top of the large bottle. These
should be close to the skinny tapered part, 1-2 inches below the cap. Use scissors to cut the entire top
of the big bottle off below the air holes. This should be close to but above where the taper ends.
Add about 1.5 to 2 inches of sand to the big bottle. Place your small bottle on top of the sand in the
center of the big bottle. Add a layer of dirt about 2 inches deep around the small bottle. Add a small
layer of sand about 0.5 inches deep. Be sure to keep your small bottle centered. Add another layer of
dirt, a small layer of sand, and end with dirt. This should get you near the top of the bottle. Do not fill
quite to the top.
Add a little bit of water. You will be able to watch it migrate down through the layers. You do not want
standing water in the bottom of your bottle but you do want it damp throughout. If your dirt was very
wet you may not need to add water. Watch this and keep your worm farm moist. Now you can add
your worms! Watch as they burrow down into the dirt. Add some food scraps to feed the worms.
Vegetable matter is good. Meat and dairy can make your worm farm smell.
Tape the top of the bottle back on. You can unscrew the bottle cap to add more food or water to your
worms. Place the bottle in a brown paper bag to make a dark place for the worms to be just like in the
ground. Keep your worm farm in a cool place like a basement.

STEAM week 2: Flower and leaf prints

Making flower and leaf prints: Find a hard flat surface like a counter or cutting board on the floor. Lay a sheet of construction or watercolor paper (printer paper will work but isn’t as nice because it doesn’t soak up the moisture the same) on the surface. Lay your flower or leaf face side down on the paper. You want it to be flat. If you have a flat flower such as a pansy you can place the flower directly on the paper and then pinch off the stem part. If you have something that does not flatten well such as a dandelion you can pull the individual petals off and place them on the paper. You can tape the petals or leaves down just make sure that the tape is not between the paper and the petal or leaf. Once you have placed your flowers and leaves cover them with a paper towel. I like to use a pen or pencil to draw around each one so I remember where they are. Next use your hammer to gently pound on each petal or leaf. You will need to be careful to cover each spot. Any spot that you miss will leave an empty place on your print. You can carefully pull back the paper towel to check your print. The paper towel will have a reverse of the print on the paper. If you have white spots on the paper towel you will have empty spots on your print. Carefully lay the towel back down and pound the empty areas. After you have finished that you can remove the paper towel and flowers and leaves. If they are stuck to your paper use a finger to gently roll them off. It may help to wait a few minutes to let them dry partially if they are very stuck. Now you have a picture!  


STEAM Week 1: Seeds

Planting sunflower seeds:
These are the white and black striped seeds in the packet. You will need sever small containers to plant
the seeds in. Empty one bag of potting soil in a container to mix. Add some water and mix. Use only
enough to make the soil damp, not soaked or dry. Put some soil in each container and tap gently to
settle. Add a sunflower seed and push down a little bit to cover lightly with soil. A child’s first knuckle is
a good measure. Set the pots in a warm place in your house. Outside is still too cold. This will allow the
seeds to germinate. These seeds will probably take 10-14 days to sprout. Check daily and draw a
picture of what happens on your log sheet.

Planting bean seeds:
These are the black and brown mottled seeds in the packet. You will need the baggie that the potting
soil for the sunflower seeds was in and a paper towel. Dampen the paper towel and squeeze the extra
water out. Make the towel damp, not dripping and not nearly dry. Add the bean seeds to the towel and
fold in half. Put everything in the baggie and seal most of the way to trap the moisture inside. Check
daily and draw what happens on your log sheet.