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Lou Henry unveils book vending machine

Lou Henry unveils book vending machine


WATERLOO – A schoolwide assembly Wednesday afternoon unveiled Lou Henry’s newest reading tool. It’s a vending machine, but it’s likely to be parent- and dentist-approved.

“It doesn’t hold candy, but it holds books,” Ann Thomas, the school’s technology integrationist, told the crowd of about 500 students and staff.

Students screamed and cheered as the wrapping paper came off the machine and revealed a variety of children’s books.

Thomas turned the idea – suggested last fall by Lou Henry’s Principal Jake Youngkent — into reality.

Book vending machine

Ann Thomas, technology integrationist at Lou Henry Elementary School, stands with a student who received the first book from the school's new book vending machine at a schoolwide assembly Wednesday afternoon. 

“I like a challenge,” she said.

The Bookworm Vending Machine, created by Global Vending Group based in New York, runs on specialized gold coins. The coins will be a part of a literacy inventive program at Lou Henry.

“We feel pretty proud since this is the first book vending machine in the state of Iowa,” Thomas said. “I took the funding request to our amazingly generous PTO, who funded nearly the whole thing.”

She worked with the company’s marketing team to create custom shelves, wheels and wrap that displays the Lou Henry Little Hawks logo and colors.

“I think it’s a fun idea and it’s unique to our school,” said Nicole Reem, a fourth-grade teacher at Lou Henry.

The 650-pound machine can hold 200-300 books.

“We believe that the combination of vending books and your own personalized reward system could bridge the gap between literacy and engagement,” according to the company’s website.

“I think it’s really cool, and I really like books,” said fourth-grader Kashara Richard.


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Related to this story

In a special election on March 3, Waterloo voters will be asked to approve a revenue purpose statement with a simple majority to allow Waterloo Schools to spend penny sales tax (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education or SAVE) funds.

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