School uses book vending machine to get kids reading
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Fourth-grader Lainey Rogers put in her coin and pushed the letters and numbers on the dial pad.
What fell to the bottom didn’t get stuck on the way down. She didn’t have to try and shake it loose, and she didn’t have to worry about grabbing the wrong treat.
But what Lainey did get was still a surprise — a book she had never read before, and one she could call her own. After all, picking out a book from the library had never involved a vending machine before.
The machine, called Inchy, the Bookworm Vending Machine, is the only one of its kind in the Sioux Falls School District, the Argus Leader reported.
John Harris Elementary students like Lainey were surprised with the machine about a week and a half ago, after teachers had them put together clues, hands-on activities and videos teasing that something big was coming, Principal Kersten Dobberpuhl said.
‘The kids really had no idea’
The idea came together this summer, after one of the school’s teachers tagged Dobberpuhl in a Facebook post about the concept.
The machine, estimated to cost more than $3,000, was a little more than what the school could afford, but the idea wasn’t something librarian Stefanie Hage could forget.
“My librarian just thought this would be a great way to celebrate students making positive choices,” Dobberpuhl said.
School officials rallied the John Harris community, relying on donations and magazine subscription funds to find a way to get Inchy on the campus.
When the time came for the big reveal, school officials even shared videos of Dobberpuhl surfing a cart full of boxed books down a hallway and had workers unload a giant box meant to symbolize Inchy from the back of dump truck to get kids excited.
“The kids really had no idea,” the principal said. “They just thought, there’s Ms. Dobberpuhl being wheeled through the library on a cart.”
‘It’s an amazing engagement tool’
The vending machine doesn’t cost money, but it does take gold coins given to students for being “Hurricane Heroes,” for exhibiting kindness and good behavior. Each time a student is recognized by a teacher, they get a chance to be entered for a book, with six names announced every Monday after the Pledge of Allegiance, Dobberpuhl said.
The excitement has given the library an extra boost of activity since, Hage said.
Hage will even be putting together a committee of students to make sure the books in the machine are ones considered high-interest. The machine has helped give students a sense of pride and perseverance for a job well-done, Hage said.
“It’s an amazing engagement tool we can use for kids,” Hage said. “What’s been really fun to watch unfold is the investment our kids have in not only wanting to meet those Hurricane behavior expectations, but also the way they’re having conversations around books and authors.”
The school will also be relying on grants, the school’s parent-teacher organization and donations to keep the vending machine full. The goal is to give out as many coins as possible, Dobberpuhl said.
For Lainey, the machine is simply a way to dive into stories she hasn’t read before, she said after choosing the book “Sisters” by Raina Telgemeier. Lainey was recognized the week before for helping clean tables in the cafeteria, she said. She wasn’t in town when students were introduced to Inchy.
And she enjoys the lessons Inchy is teaching her peers, she said.
“People don’t always have the chance to have books at their house. Maybe their parents can’t afford to have books or something,” Lainey said. “This teaches them to be helpful by earning (coins), so they get the chance to have a book of their own.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com