For a fifth grade student, the universe is a big place to explore. Even the plant Earth is daunting, but thanks to Sedalia Middle School Librarian/Media Specialist Jeremy Fry and a Sedalia School District Foundation Mini Grant, the opportunity to discover what is out there or yet to be discovered is within reach.
“I love reading, I always have,” Fry said. “The goal of a librarian is to get students to fall in love with reading but it’s also my job to support what the teachers are doing in their classrooms through other outlets.
“There is a lot going on and I want my students to create and explore and let them do things,” he added. “I want to develop fun and innovative ways to extend the classroom in their time in the library.”
In his grant application, Fry wrote he hopes to create a Makerspace/STEM space in the library, turning a portion of the library into a place where students can explore as artists, builders, programmers, engineers, crafters, tinkerers and inventors, among others.
“A library isn’t just a place for students to check out books and sit quietly and read,” Fry said. “I love the fact that my students feel comfortable here and want to come and spend time and read, but I want to give them a space where they are doing more hands-on activities.”
“My students can read about electricity and then go to the Makerspace and explore circuits and lights and put their knowledge and what they have learned in the classrooms and books to the test,” Fry wrote. “A Makerspace/STEM space encourages creativity, innovative inquiry and reflection.”
The $768 Fry received will be used to purchase an OSMO kit that turns an iPad into an interactive artificial intelligence, a Sphero, or robot, that teaches students how to program, snap circuits, K’Nex Education building kits and Sky 3-D Virtual Reality Glasses and an iPad Touch.
“I am so excited to receive the grant,” Fry said. “One of the best things about it is that this technology can be used over and over through the years and it is not something that will just fall by the wayside.
“I adapted my schedule so one week the students will focus on library time and one week on technology,” he added. “During the technology time my students will be learning and using things like all of the ins and outs of Google, coding, research, and information technology.”
As both the librarian and instructional technology specialist at SMS, Fry is knowledgeable with the technology the students will be using.
“I have a lot up my sleeve for the future,” Fry said. “There are a lot of things I want to do with our Positive Behavior Support Intervention Program including a student news broadcast using a green screen and a SMS puppet/Muppet show that will have students making videos explaining student expectations that we can show throughout the year.
“It’s all part of the learning process and getting the students used to using the technology they have available,” Fry added. “I would really like to be able to bridge the gap between what the students have available at home versus what they have available here.”
Fry also hopes to pilot a before-school Coding Club for interested students, teaching them how to write their own video gaming codes.
“I can’t wait to get started with my students,” Fry said enthusiastically. “I spent most of last summer working here in the library trying to make it more ‘homey’ and where people actually want to be.
“I wanted people to come here, not because they had to but because they want to,” he added. “A library should always be a place where people can check out books but it should also be a place where they feel comfortable going beyond the pages and exploring what’s out there.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.