People of a certain age will remember their visits to the school library as a quiet activity.
"When I went to school, you went to the library to check out books, and the librarian might be a bit of a dour person," said Kristi Jump, media specialist at Stevenson Elementary School and Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle schools.
That's not the case with Jump or Stevenson's media center, where the atmosphere is what Jump calls "organized chaos" -- and she loves it.
"It's a no-quiet zone," she said. "With the different activities we offer now in the media center, the students get so excited. I don't want to take that away from them."
Students still visit the media center to check out books, but over the last year, Jump has added activities youngsters can choose to participate in during the time they spend with her.
Those activities include a makerspace center, where students can use various tools and supplies to build their creations; a Lego wall; a collection of board games; and materials that foster STEAM learning. (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.)
"When they come into the media center, in addition to having time to check out books, the students can spend time participating in the type of activity they want, whether it's taking part in a makerspace project, building something on the Lego wall or playing with connector toys," Jump said.
The game shelf holds a variety of board and card games, from Trouble and Go Fish to Boggle, she said.
"One of the things I'm trying to do is provide activities that are crosscurricular," Jump said. "The students are learning lessons about or applying their skills in math, science or art while participating in the activities.
"Each child has the opportunity to find their own way to be a leader in an activity," she said. "Perhaps they'll be the mathematician or scientist, or they can be the engineer or creative artist."
The makerspace center offers students a chance to work individually or in a group on a design challenge, Jump said.
"The projects inspire creativity, innovation and collaboration," which are all 21st-century learning skills, she said.
"We're trying to make the media center a 21st-century media center," Jump said.
On a recent day, students built towers or structures using wooden blocks.
"They could do that basic project, or if they wanted to, they could take it a step beyond and try to see how many books they could stack on top of their structures," Jump said.
Most students chose to stack books on their towers.
"We worked on building a guard tower, so we made the tower as high as we could," said second-grader Audi Kumar, who worked with classmates Blayze McCurry and Griffin Kahn.
"We probably made the world record for tallest tower," Griffin said.
Stacking the books was a delicate operation, Blayze said.
"You've got to have steady hands," he said.
"The main thing is you don't want to go too quickly," second-grader Katie Moore said. "Take your time."
Katie was proud that she stacked 63 books on her structure.
"The most fun thing about it was stacking 63 books," she said. "That was my first time. It didn't work as well the second time; I just got 20 books on."
Leah Bosworth said she and her partner made it to 67 books.
"We built our structure like it was a house," she said. "I never thought we would get so many books to stay without falling over."
The collaborative projects help teach youngsters how to work with others, Jump said.
"They're learning about quiet leadership and not just being bossy," she said. "No one wants to work with a bossy-pants."
Throughout the year, Jump is using the activities to help promote a series of buzzwords that represent good character traits.
For the block-stacking activity, the buzzword was perseverance, she said.
Some of the items for the media center's new activities have been donated by the school's PTO, Jump said. She has received some donated items from Ashland College, where she is taking a makerspace class for educators.
Community members are encouraged to donate used items that can be added to the supply to enhance the activities, she said.
"Perhaps you have some consumable items like art supplies or cardboard that you're looking to throw away," Jump said. "We can make good use of those materials."
Building materials, blocks and board games that may be taking up space in one's closet or toy chest also are needed, she said.
Those interested in donating materials email Jump at email@example.com or call the Stevenson office at 614-485-4200.