LEDs are a simple, cheap, and fun programs for grades 3-adult.
We use LEDs to teach teens about how they are used in the world around them and circuitry.
Tip- Many teens do not know how to hand sew so you’ll have to teach them how to tie a knot, how to do a running stitch, and how to close a stitch.
EASY – LED Origami ($100 for 20 teens)
Materials: Origami paper, LEDs, tape, scissors, coin battery (We purchased batteries, and LEDs from Adafruit)
We found origami videos on Youtube and set out iPads. We found that it’s easier for teens to follow origami on video than in a instructional booklet. We did a heart origami and showed teens how to insert the LED in the fold of the heart with tape.
Intermediate-LED Hoodie & Backpack ($60 for 20 teens)
Have teens bring in a hoodie. Have teens begin sewing the EL wire on one side of the zipper. They should sew the wire in small increments all the way around the hoodie to the other side of the zipper. They should then cut a small hole on the inside of the pocket on the side with the slack. String the slack through the pocket, connect the battery pack and that’s it.
You can use hot glue on the EL wire. The backpack was made but hot gluing the wire. This also looks cool on baseball caps.
Intermediate-LED Wristbands ($75 for 20 teens)
Materials: Felt or fabric, conductive thread, LED, snaps, coin battery (We purchased everything except the fabric from Adafruit)
We live in a community where teens play A LOT of games but they don’t know much about making them so we decided to create a day long game making bonanza and we called it Challenge Accepted.
Attendance: 84 (6th-12th grades and adults)
Budget: $500 (Game Truck, lunch, dinner, snacks) We shared the cost of the game truck with the youth department. You can save money by only offering snacks.
11am-1pm: Create Your Own Super Mario Bros Level or Minecraft Mod
Teens STILL love Super Mario Bros and we used that to hook them. We used two different programs-Gamestar Mechanic and Pixel Press.
Gamestar Mechanic is done online through a website where teens play levels, similar to the game they are going to design, to acquire characters; obstacle; villains; etc. Teens can go through a tutorial to learn the basics if you are not comfortable teaching game design.
Game Mechanic costs $2/student and you can receive a free trial to test.
The teens really liked Game Mechanic and I highly recommend it.
The app is $2.99 and you can upload it to multiple iPads.
This game has a steeper learning curve than Gamestar and I would say it’s more appropriate for an intermediate gamer/coder.
Tynker is an app that allows gamers to make their own worlds.
Tynker requires a subscription.
You have to have your own Minecraft server which is difficult for a library.
Kano is a arduino that can do the same as Tynker. We used Kano because we already purchased them with grant funds.
You have to purchase Kano kits for $150-$350/ea
Kano provides step by step instructions which is great for librarians who are Minecraft novices.
1pm-3pm: Laser Tag/Game Truck
Game Truck is a big green truck that come to you to lead games. We wanted to do laser tag on the library’s lawn as a energy release from sitting behind a computer all day. It rained that day so we did video games instead. Teens REALLY loves Game Truck even though it’s just gaming in a big truck. I highly recommend it if you have it in your area. You get it for two hours and it costs about $400.
3pm-5:30pm: DIY Board Game and 3D Print your Pawn/Die
Cooperative games are all the rage and I wanted teens to learn how to create their own board game.
I printed a blank game board from Google Images and stapled it to foam board.
I added space for cards like Chance cards from Monopoly.
I included space for title; description; objective; rules; and place to design pawn or die
Teens were divided into groups of three or four.
Each group was given a game board, scratch paper, pencils, and colored pencils.
I allowed between 5-10 minutes for each item
Teens were asked to decide on the description; objective; rules; cards; die design; and title.
Teens were then allowed the rest of the time to create their board game.
One person was designated to design their pawn or die in Tinkercad-3D printing website.
We were able to print one pawn during the program and we told teens to return to pick up their piece.
We will print a pawn or die for each member of the group.
6-8pm: Dungeons and Dragons
We do not know how to play so we asked a staff member to be a dungeon master and to teach the basics of the game. Since libraries are full of nerds, chances are you have a D&D player among your co workers or you can ask one of your teens.
I’ve seen this thread on Facebook several times. Libraries are super excited to have a makerspace or maker activities and they apply for grants. When they receive the grants, library workers are told to purchase maker supplies but the librarian/library worker is new to the maker movement and doesn’t know where to begin. If you’ve asked this question on Facebook or you are developing maker activities and don’t know where to begin, I’m here to assist you.
My library was tasked with developing a makerspace last year and we had to purchase equipment so I’ve been in your shoes. Here’s a breakdown of budget constraints and what to purchase to make the biggest impact. This post will focus on equipment and not craft type making. This post will also focus on equipment appropriate for ages 8 and up.
Tip #1: Avoid consumables. Try to purchase equipment that can be used for months or years and avoid the one and done.
Tip #2: Always consider the number of teens you are serving. Avoid purchasing a robot that only 2 kids can use at once when you are serving 20. You can create centers/stations to accommodate a large group with a small number of equipment.
Tip #3: Consider “In App Purchases.” In other words, when budgeting, consider the cost of consumable supplies. For example, if you are buying 3D pens, you’ll have to continuously buy plastic and it can get expensive.
To get the full education benefits, teens should install the operating system and software. This takes time for staff to learn to be able to teach. This also takes time to do for a program. It’s also a lot of waiting around for it to download.
Once everything is downloaded, it’s basically a comupter. The educational part is the first bullet.
Suggestions-If you do a Raspberry Pi program, try to attract people who are familiar with arduino and not beginners. There’s an arduino that’s good for beginners called Kano and it’s the next bullet.
Kano-$150/ea-For this price, you only get the arduino and keyboard and will have to supply TV screens. $350 will get you a screen but if you only have $500, I wouldn’t suggest getting Kano.
Great for ages 8 and up
Great for beginners and intermediate coders. Advanced teens might get bored.
Kano provides clear step by step set up instructions will little assistance from staff.
Teens can create their own Minecraft mods and use drag and drop to code music, art, and games. All of this is self directed.
If you don’t buy the screen kit for $350, you’ll have to get TV screens.
Teens can assemble the bot in the instructions and once they understand the motors, they can create their own bot.
I suggest assembling the bot before your program because that can take more than one hour.
Violates TIP #2- I’d suggest three teens/bot
Budgets of $5000 +
If you have a $5000 budget, you can purchase anything from the $1000 list. The following list includes more expensive equipment.
3D Printer-$1300-$5000-I’m not an expert of 3D printers so I won’t recommend one. We decided on the Lulzbot after surveying many librarians. We actually have the Lulzbot mini because we had a small budget.
We’ve had it for one year and so far it’s been good. We did have to replace the extruder one time. It does clog sometimes but we’ve always been able to fix it. We are novice 3D printer enthusiasts and we’ve been able to figure it out.
I will recommend Lulzbot products. We use Tinkercad to teach 3D printing and we have teens follow the instruction booklet and they do it with ease.
The filament lasts a long time.
The only potential issue is that our Lulzbot isn’t enclosed but we watch it very carefully and so far teens don’t touch it while it’s going.
We do a murder mystery once a year because the teen love it and it’s cheap. It does, however, take a lot of work.
Every year we change the theme just to keep it fresh. The 2016 theme was a Pajama Party and this year’s theme was Library Horror Story. We chose this theme after a recent survey at school visits. One of the most popular TV shows among these teens was American Horror Story.
Budget: $175 (All of this was the cost of pizza, chips, dessert, and beverages. You don’t have to serve food.)
Attendance: 32 (Mostly high school)
Theme: We marketed the murder mystery as Library Horror Story but the actual theme was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. We did not tell teens it was based on the Christie novel but our teen actors were aware.
We stuck to the overall premise of the Christie novel. We sent out invitations to our teen regulars and included additional invites to give to friends. In the pictures below is a character card where teens could come dressed in character and they were asked to stay in character the duration of the party. Of course this was optional. The invite also included one clue.
It was marketed as a dinner party. We began with dinner and the remainder of the party was traditional party games-charades; celebrity; sardines (hide and seek). The party ended with the guessing of the killer and the motive.
If you are familiar with And Then There Were None, great. If not, it’s difficult to describe so I suggest you watch the movie or the recent two part tv movie.
We had seven teen volunteers and five of the teens were suspects. The other two teens were the wait staff. Each suspect had to stay in character for the duration of dinner (3o minutes). After 30 minutes, we played a recording-very similar to the novel. FYI-we created a perfectly timed playlist on Youtube and the recording was part of the playlist. We played the playlist through dinner and the wait staff informed our suspects when to sit to get ready for the recording.
During each of the party games, the suspects were being killed off one by one. If you are familiar with the novel, you know that all the suspects die but one faked their death.
Participants can create whatever their hearts desire with cardboard-cars, robots, Harry Potter. They decide how the want it to move. Their creation can blink or swing. It can move with a voice command or a motion sensor. Then, they attach a servo and lights and code it using drag and drop.
If you have a larger budget or you own a cutting machine (doesn’t have to be a Silhouette), screen printing can be a fairly easy project.
We had teens design a picture with the free Adobe Illustrator Draw app.
Teens emailed their design to staff.
We uploaded their design to the Silhouette software and printed it on adhesive vinyl.
Teens placed the vinyl on the shirt and sponged fabric paint over the stencil.
When it dries (use fans to speed up the drying process), teens pealed off the vinyl stencil.
To make this a career exploration program, talk to the teens about logos/branding. Have teens create their own company and ask them to design a logo for their new company.
Faux screen printing can be a program in graphic design for all skill levels by teaching the Adobe Illustrator app.
Expensive/Advanced Faux Screen Printing 2
Repeat steps 1 & 2. Instead of cutting on vinyl, cut on stencil material. To give teens real life experience of screen printing, you can purchase a screen printing board. This does get a little messy but messy is fun, right?
Intermediate Faux Screen Printing
If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can purchase stencil material on Amazon. Teens can draw their design on the stencil and use an Exacto knife to cut it out. Tape the stencil on the shirt and sponge fabric paint.
Easy Faux Screen Printing
If your library has a die cut machine, pre cut shapes or letters to use as stencils. You can also purchase stencil designs.
We have found that teens love murder mysteries so that’s why we do one every year. To keep it fresh, we do a different type of mystery every year.
There are several advantages to a murder mystery program. They are incredibly cheap to host. You can purchase a kit but if you have the time to write your own scripts, you can save a lot of $$$. Our murder mysteries run between $50-$100 and this is food and supplies.
Teens like to perform and chances are you have thespians among your regular teen members. Get your teens involved in the writing process. We either have one teen write the entire script on Google Docs or invite teens to assist. Once we have the script completed, we get our teen cast together and give them a script and tell them to learn all their lines. We made the script open to improve so that teens didn’t have to learn their lines word for word. This takes the pressure off to be perfect. We have a dress rehearsal two hours before the event because teens are busy and flaky and if you have too many rehearsals, you are running the risk of no shows.
By the title, you can tell that this year’s theme was a slumber party. This was during the
time that the TV show Scream Queens was on air so we wanted to capitalize on the trend. We presented it like a real slumber party thrown by the stereotypical popular mean girl, Tiffany Van Luxe. The cast included the hot jock boyfriend, the emo sister, the jealous best friend, the creepy neighbor, and the wannabe. The activities were that of a traditional slumber party including hide and seek, truth or dare, make overs, and lip sync battle.
We had our main character, Tiffany, come in costume a couple of weeks prior to the event to shoot promo pics and videos. We then promoted the event with her pics on our social media accounts. We also asked our other cast if we would take an image of them from their social media to use as posters to place around the library. The post featured their face and a tagline that asked if they were the murderer.
We snail mailed invitations that resembled a real slumber party invites to all our regulars. Mailed invites are where we always get the majority of our attendance.
We had a book display promoting the event with the preverbal “chalk” outline in the stacks.
During dress rehearsal, we took pics that could be motives. These pics were put on Instagram through out the party. During the party, we told teens to check our Instagram account for clues.
Tiffany Takeover. We had “Tiffany” take over our Instagram for the week with her snotty comments and pics.
During the party, we told teens that if they take a selfie with Tiffany and post it on their social media, she would give them candy. This is a great way to spread the word about your parties through teens.
Of course teens were encouraged to come in PJs by announcing that the best PJs would win a cash prize. We of course rigged the contest so that our mean girl host chose herself (Yes this was a bit mean but also funny).
After we figured most teens were in attendance, we welcomed them by introducing the cast and their bios. We told them that from now until the end of the party, the cast would be in character and that one of them is going to murder Tiffany, the host. Their job is to pay attention and to try to guess the murder and the motive. We also told them to check our Instagram for a vital clues through out the party. (This is a great way to get teens to check/follow your social media account).
The party began with dancing. The cast went around to all the guests in character. I
included a link to our script at the end of this post. We then did all the activities listed under “theme” and Tiffany was murdered during the lip sync battle by a someone in costume just like Scream Queens. Teens were then given a sheet of paper asking them to name the murderer and the motive.
One group guessed the murderer but not the motive because as you can guess, teens were caught up in the party and not paying attention to the clues. Even though no one technically go it right, which no one ever does at our murder mysteries, they still had a great time. Check out our script on Google Docs.
Most popular activities: hide and seek and truth or dare.
Attendance: 28 teens and a budget of $60
Food served: donuts, potato chips, and flavored water and Tiff Clique Punch.
The furniture is finally assembled and now it time to arrange the room. Here’s how we arranged The Hive:
Since we have an overwhelming demographic of artistic teens, half of the makerspace is dedicated to art. The paintings on the wall were created by our staff member who also teaches our weekly art classes. We will add teen created artwork to the wall. The letters were purchased at Walmart
We have all types of artsy supplies. Supplies include watercolors, all types of pencils/markers, plain/graph/comic paper, and coloring sheets. There’s an art notebook for teens to fill pages. The shelving unit was purchased at Ikea.
There’s a dry erase wall from floor to ceiling. If you are able, I suggest investing in a dry erase wall-teens love it. I’ve seen comic strips and a list of their favorite bands that took up the entire wall. It’s great for passive activities such as polling, listing faves, or program suggestions.
We hung a guitar for teens to remove on their own and play. The guitar hanger and pick holder was purchased on Amazon.
There’s pillows and rugs for teens who like to create/make on the floor. We have clipboards available for use. We will also have a quarterly anthology where teens can submit their short stories, poetry, and artwork. Our Creative Writing Club will organize and assemble the anthology for teens to look through while their in the room.
For the techy side of the room, we mounted three iPads. You are able to restrict adding and removing apps, and getting on the internet. We want to encourage teens to explore apps and not watch videos on Youtube or check in on Facebook so we restricted our iPads. iPad mounts were purchased from Amazon.
The Silhouette pictured is old and our new more awesome cutter will arrive any day now!! When it arrives, it will be housed on this table. I talked about the cutter and the certification in my previous post. See the above link.
Our 3D Printer is the Lulzbot and we purchased the cart on Amazon. Once again, teens will be required to be certified before they may use it. We set up an account through Tinkercad and Projectignite.autodesk.com. You can have teens set up accounts with your email, set up lessons, and track progress. Teens can log on anytime, at the library or at home, take five hours of lessons and then we will teach them how to send their designs to the printer. Once they are certified, they can print on their own.
This shelf contains robotics and maker crafts such as Ozobots, rubber band looms, and Lego Mindstorms.
We have two tables down the center of the room for making. We covered the tables with chalkboard paint. Tables were purchased at Ikea.
We have a book for each piece of equipment we own so that teens can learn on their own during open lab. We also have crafting books in the art corner. The books are reference books and they will stay in the room.
We are trying to stay away from paper flyers because they take up valuable table space. To alleviate this, we have dry erase boards on the walls and a large screen in the front of the room. All digital flyers are created on Canva. Canva is great because you can set your own dimensions to fit any screen. The screen will feature upcoming events, completed projects, and a leaderboard of teens who complete challenges. We have a sign outside the door displaying what’s going on in the room for the week.
FOR THE STAFF
Yay, storage! We kept our TARDIS because it’s a storage shelf that looks like a TARDIS. In it, we keep supplies that need to be replenished and techy equipment that only comes out on special occasions such as the Google Cardboard and the Makey Makeys.
The other cabinet stores our Chromebooks and iPads.
As you can see, we don’t have a lot of decoration on the walls. We have two painted guitars. The teens massacred the strings so we just removed the strings and turned them into wall decor. And the only other thing we have is a clock. We plan to fill the walls with teen created artwork.
We open Tuesday, September 6th and we’re excited for all the new amazing projects our teens will create.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or leave a comment below.
It has been a slow week by way of furniture. Our maintenance department is responsible for the assembly but they have been moving rather slowly so we only have two new tables in our room. We purchased most of our tables from Ikea and the great thing about Ikea is that they make extendable tables. We have four extendable tables that can accommodate four to six people. Often times we plan a program for ten and fifteen show up. That’s the beauty of these table, you don’t have to have haul in more tables, just extend it.
Playing With New Toys
Makerspaces always incorporate technology and if you are like us and don’t know how to use anything, you have to teach yourself before you can teach others.
We took a couple of hours every day to sit down and teach ourselves how to use the Ozobots, Makey Makey, Silhouette cutting machine, Google Cardboard, and wearable LEDs.
Ozobot-This is a small bot that you code with color. The bots are $50 each and all you need is paper and chisel tipped markers (red, black, blue, green). You can code the bot to spin, speed up, turn left, etc. It’s great for all ages and all levels.
Makey Makey-Use everyday items and turn them into game controllers. The kits are $50 each. It sounds basic and beginner level stuff but you can make life size games by turning people into the controller. Once you get the hang of it, you and your teens can have lots of fun. Check out the videos on the Makey Makey site. This is our favorite.
This machine can range in price depending on the machine you want. The Cameo 1 and the Portrait (pictured below) cost $220 and $179 respectively. The Cameo 1 looks fancier but they do the same thing so purchase the Portrait if you’re on a tight budget.
These machines cut paper, vinyl, fabric, and stencil material. You can make any decal your heart desires. For example, one of my teens wanted a vinyl decal of the Mockingjay symbol to put on her cell phone. Of course this is copyright infringement but I copied the image from Google Images, uploaded it to the Portrait, and cut it out. I don’t have a picture but it looks like she purchased it in a store. You can use the machine to make stencils for logo/t-shirt graphics, you can cut fabric to sew on clothes/pillows, etc. In the picture below, my co worker likes jackolopes. She drew it in the Silhouette software and cut it out using the machine. As you can see, teens can design their own pictures. Designing in the software can be difficult (It took my coworker Elise about an hour) but you can have teens design in Adobe (we the used Adobe Illustrator app on the iPad) and they can email it to you and you can upload it to the Silhouette software. I designed a TARDIS this way.
New advancements to Silhouette:
You no longer have to move the cutting machine to a computer to print. You can download the new software to create a cloud. Teens can save to the cloud and can print from one connected computer.
You can purchase the Cameo 3, coming in September, that will be Bluetooth! No wires needed!!
If you subscribe to Adobe Suite or Corel, you can design there and send your designs through the cloud.
Google Cardboard costs $15 each. They are VR (Virtual Reality) goggles made out of cardboard. You download free apps or purchase apps and insert the smart device into the goggles. This is by far cheaper than all other VR goggles and does a great job for the price.
You’ll have to purchase iPods, have your teens use their own phone, or trust teens with your phone. That is the drawback. Google Cardboard says it can hold any device 4-7″ and the video below was used with an iPhone 6S.
We obtained our ideas from Adafruit. Beware, Adafruit is a tough website to navigate.
September will focus on LEDs. See our programming section further down to view our curriculum for the month.
We taught ourselves Chibitronics, coin battery LEDs, and lastly Gemma (programmable LED through Arduino). If all those words scared you, don’t worry; it sacred us too.
This craft was made with the above battery holder and snaps to complete the circuit.
Gemma requires sewing and programming. You have to download the software from Adafruit. We couldn’t download to our work computers because of the firewall so I had to bring my personal Macbook. All you have to do is copy/paste the code from Adafruit.
In the video, the LED is blinking fast and I coded it to blink slower. You can add several LED sequins and code it to blink however you like. Adafruit’s Youtube channel is full of wonderful ideas.
Tuesdays-Appy Hour. Teens will lean how to make videos using Magisto and Stop Motion. Teens will create animation using Animator
Thursdays-Creative Writing Meetup. This is a teen led creative writing group.
Thursdays-Let’s Draw Something. Teens will learn different drawing/painting techniques or they can free draw.
Monthly Challenges-There will be a new challenge every month. All the materials will be set out and teens will be given minimal instructions.
Makerbees-This is basically a frequent maker card-Makerbees level 1. There will be five activities that teens can complete. Levels increase in difficulty as teens complete them.
3D Printing-Teens will have to be certified before they may use the 3D Printer. We set up a teacher account on Tinkercad. Teens must complete 5 hours of lessons and take a class with staff before they may print on their own.
Silhouette Cutting Machine-Teens will have to be certified before they may use the cutting machine. To become certified, teens must attend two workshops.
That’s all for the past two weeks. Next week we will hopefully have our furniture assembled and we can get our room ready. We will also learn how to screen print. The Hive is supposed to open on September 6th but it’s still a construction zone and I don’t think that will happen.