Makin’ STEAM at the Water Library

May 14, 2014
Anne Moser in the Goodman Center

The UW–Madison Water Library is easy to miss along Lakeshore Path. The library is tucked inside Scott H. Goodnight Hall, a former dorm. It seems small, but you might be surprised at the vast collection housed by this library. The Water Library is a part of the UW’s Aquatic Sciences Center and boasts a collection of more than 30,000 water-specific works.

The library’s collection includes books, periodicals, conference proceedings, DVDs, magazines and a curriculum collection. Most of the collection focuses on water science, including water quality and quantity, water supply, limnology, freshwater science, wetlands and the Great Lakes, but other resources are aimed at more general scientific inquiry. The Best American Science Writing anthologies and Science News are popular among patrons. There is also a children’s collection housed within this academic library that cover the same water-related topics.

“The robust children’s collection is unique in a scientific library on campus,” explains Erin Anthony, the Water Library’s Project Assistant. “The children’s resources, which include books and curriculum sets, make it possible for us to reach a wider audience. The collection makes it possible for us to put the Wisconsin Idea in action through our outreach to children.”

Anne Moser, Senior Special Librarian at the Water Library, has built relationships with different constituents throughout the state which has led to ongoing opportunities to provide educational science outreach throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Blubber glove example courtesy of
Blubber glove example courtesy of

For the past four years, since Moser began at the Water Library, she has maintained a strong relationship with the Ho-Chunk Nation Head Start program in Baraboo, Wisconsin where she visits four or five times per year to offer Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) story times. Each story time is built around a theme and includes a craft and experiential activity. A recent addition to Moser and Anthony’s repertoire of experiments included a specially designed Blubber Glove. The popular Blubber Glove was an experiment in the Winter and Ice Can Be Fun! story time.  The glove is constructed from two gallon-sized storage bags, shortening, and duct tape and simulates how blubber acts as insulation in aquatic animals. This activity has been popular among children while teaching about the concepts of hypothermia and animal anatomy.

“The outreach activities of the Water Library have continued to evolve in recent years to focus on STEM education to preschoolers,” explains Moser. “We began a number of years ago with more traditional literacy-focused story times, with water-based themes. Slowly we have introduced more and more science inquiry as we followed the children’s lead.”

Anne Moser at a science fair in La Crosse, Wisconsin

Moser also recently participated in a fun event in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She set up a science fair for about 50 children from the area Head Start program and their guardians. At the fair, Moser demonstrated STEM-based activities including the Blubber Glove and a buoyancy experiment that gave the children an opportunity for some hands on fun. It’s not all for the kids, though: teachers, parents and guardians learned a little bit about how to get their hands wet, too.

Moser and Anthony already have big future plans for the Water Library. Moser will be delivering a couple of different scientific series, including one on pond science, in the Madison Public Library’s FIZZ BOOM READ program as well as the Madison Play and Learn program.

Want to know more about UW—Madison’s Water Library? Contact Anne Moser at (608) 262-3069 or visit the website here!