STEM Roundup

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Many schools prioritize these fields since they teach valuable skills such as decision making, problem solving, and information literacy (U.S. Department of Education). STEM education classes also prepare students for a constantly changing world and give them opportunities for post-graduation careers.

Here is a list of a few sites hosted by ibiblio that are a great introduction to a range of STEM topics. To explore more, you can check out tags under natural science and mathematics and technology and applied sciences!

The Virtual Cell

The Virtual Cell provides an interactive cell biology learning experience that is both entertaining and educational. You can also access a very helpful pronunciation guide to hear the parts of the cell out loud.

3D Solid State Crystal Models

If you’re interested in physics and math, check out this site that provides interactive 3D models of crystals with cubic symmetry. While the science is complicated, the models are very fun to explore even as a beginner! It’s a great introduction to crystallography and virtual reality modeling.

The Celestia Motherlode

Here you’ll find a repository of add-ons for Celestia, a 3D space simulator. You can browse images of planets, spacecraft, and read through educational guides as well as access resources for students and teachers.

NASA’s Educational Media Archive was a collection of scientific resources for all age groups to learn about subjects such as aeronautics, mathematics, technology, and space transportation. This site included educational videos, web activities, and guides specifically for teachers and students. To access the archive, follow the instructions in this post!


TechniCalc is a site for teaching students, engineers, and academics how to use their handheld calculators. It contains resources for popular TI models and covers functions, programs, and even games.

Banned Books Week 2022

This year, Banned Books Week is September 18 – 24. Hosted by the American Librarian Association, this event celebrates the freedom to read and brings attention to current censorship efforts that exist in schools and libraries across the United States.

Why are books banned or challenged?

Book censorship occurs when groups or organizations limit access to materials they deem too unorthodox or inappropriate to be circulated. It is common in public schools and libraries where children are the target audience. According to the ALA, books have been challenged or banned if:

      1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
      2. the material contained “offensive language”
      3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

The Library Bill of Rights states “librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Banned Books Week aims to promote controversial books and ensure students’ right to intellectual freedom!

Reading challenged and banned books with ibiblio

Classics and new publications alike can be targeted by censorship efforts. ibiblio provides access to many challenged and banned literary classics, such as the books listed here provided by Project Gutenberg!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Ulysses by James Joyce

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

To learn more about censorship and banned books, check out the Banned Books Week 2022 website and view more frequently challenged books on this page from the American Library Association.

The Legend of John Henry

John Henry: The Steel Driving Man

Created by UNC students, this website hosted by ibiblio provides an introduction to the legend of John Henry using resources from the Southern Folklife Collection. You can listen to music inspired by the folk hero, read news about John Henry in academic scholarship, and explore extra materials for more learning if you’re interested.

The Legend

John Henry, a hero in Southern folklore, is known to be a formerly-enslaved man born in the mid-19th century who became a laborer for the railroads after the Civil War. As the story goes, John Henry was challenged to race against a steam drill to test his strength as a steel-driver; he heroically defeats the machine, but dies from overexertion shortly after completing the challenge. The legend originated in oral tradition around the 1870s and evolved into numerous versions as it spread across the country. You can read different versions of the legend here!

The Man

The real John Henry is thought to have been born in either North Carolina or Virginia and was a singer, banjo player, and dedicated laborer. During the Reconstruction era, John Henry was hired by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway to hammer holes into rocks and was known as the most powerful man to work the rails, hammering 10 to 20 feet of rails every day (head to this page on the site to learn more about the steel-driving process). He died shortly after racing against a steam drill from either exhaustion or a stroke.

The Music

An inspiration for laborers for many generations, John Henry is a symbol of strength and perseverance who has been embraced by countless groups as a working-class hero. You can listen to popular songs inspired by the folklore here, and make sure to read through the analysis if you want to learn more about the musicians and populations who were moved by John Henry’s story!

More Folklore

If you like the legend of John Henry and are looking for more folk stories, head over to the folklore tag to browse similar items in the ibiblio catalog.