By Todd Martin

    The hum of activity resembles more closely a day of summer camp than an outing to the library. That is pretty much the point.

    Killeen ISD librarians ditched the traditional summer hours at school libraries this year in an effort to provide for students a more active, more diverse time of fun activity together at the beginning of the summer.

    It's called Stream Camp and the four school librarians running it are excited based on the filled-up registration and the obvious excitement during the first of four scheduled weeks of activity.

    Librarians Dina D'Amore, Diane Hodniak, Mary Stonebrook and Denene Barnes, with four library aides and a pair of volunteers began at Haynes Elementary School and will continue through the month of June at Timber Ridge, Skipcha and Hay Branch elementary schools.

    They capped each three-day camp at 50 and spots filled up in less than a week of registration before summer even began.

    At the Haynes library Wednesday, students busied themselves with adult helpers designing, building, making, computer coding and after a snack doing it all some more.

    The first day featured robotics with Shadetree Mechanics robotics team members making an appearance. The second day included making slime. Other days will include other special features.

    All of the camp every week is filled with what is termed STREAM, an acronym for science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math. What was once STEM, grew to STEAM and has blossomed to STREAM.

    The 10 adults running the camp, "the STREAM team" spend three days at each campus from Tuesday through Thursday three hours a day through the month of June.

    "We want to make it all fun," D'Amore said. "Every day there is something different. The summer libraries were not making a big impact and we agreed we needed something different."

    In one week, registration filled up with 200 first- through eighth-graders and a waiting list that grew to 38.

    "We're trying to get them interested in coming to the library," she said. "We want them to see the library is not just a dry, dusty place," she said.

    Turning away and lowering her voice, the librarian confided that learning was happening, students just didn't realize it as they designed balloon-powered vehicles and remote controls for computer games.

    Fifth-grader Aiden Harper and third-grader Noah Mills worked on a "Makey-Makey" program to design a game controller.

    They figured out that Play-doh is an OK electricity conductor, but better with a touch of salt. They also explained that bananas are even more powerful conductors, especially the darker, ripened ones.

    "I've always liked building things," Harper said. "I love coding. I like to make the code and then see it come to life." Stream campers used a website called Scratch for coding.

    The two boys claimed the days in the library working with circuits, robots and games was even better than going to the pool.

    Another pair of campers - fourth-grader Caden Parker and fifth-grader Jordan Hamilton worked on origami paper swords. They used online video to figure out how to form the crafts.

    "It's fun," said Hamilton. "There are a lot of cool activities, like doing origami and building robots."

    "I like the origami," said Parker. "I like trying new things. It's worth it, a good day in the summer."

    "I think it's fun to see kids have a good time," Hodniak said. "It's directed play. They are learning and playing. They just don't realize they're learning."

    June 6, 2018

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