Posted in Makerspace

LEDs

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.

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Intermediate-LED Hoodie & Backpack ($60 for 20 teens)

Materials: Hoodie, thread, needle, EL Wire

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)

Please see the diagram from instructables.

When teens snap the wristband shut, the LED should come on.

led-wristbands

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Posted in Makerspace, Passive Programs

Bling Week

Teens like to personalize their stuff so why not turn it into a design workshop.

For Bling Week, teens designed skull caps, ball caps, and cell phone cases.  They used gems, decals, and letters.  Bling week lasted for three days and attracted 62 middle school and high school students.

Budget

If you have gems and letters invading your craft closet, by all means use them to cut costs.  I purchased hats but you can always ask teens to bring their own if you need to cut costs.

Skull Caps-$5.99/6

Ball Caps – $25/12

Decals-$10/25

Spikes-$8.44-VERY POPULAR especially for boys.  It’s a small bag so you might need several.

Mirror Mosaic Tiles $14-Also very popular

Letters-$6

Puffy Paint

Hot Glue & E6000 Glue

Skull & Ball Caps

Passive or Art Program

I put out examples for inspiration and on a different table, I put out all the supplies.  I printed out a coloring page of the hats and asked teens to peruse the supply table and design their hat.  I had three different stations including the pom pom making table, the felt flower making table, and the bling table (glue table).

I was by myself and this was a drop in passive program that lasted for five hours so I needed to provide instructions quickly and often.  So, I put the instructions on the inside of a paper plate.  I handed the teens a plate, the coloring sheet, and a pencil and told them that instructions were on the plate and to use it to carry their supplies from the supply table, their pom poms, and their felt flowers.

Career Readiness Program

Design is how this passive craft activity becomes a career readiness program.  If you are hosting this as a career readiness program, you can discuss design/fashion careers including types of careers; education needed; and salary potential.

  • Branding-Teens can work in groups and create a company.  They can then design a company logo and brand themselves by designing a hat using the supplies provided.
    • If you have a vinyl cutting machine (Silhouette or Cricut) teens can actually design a logo on a computer, print it out on fabric, and glue it to their hat.
    • Or, you can use your cutter to make a vinyl stencil then use fabric paint to complete the hat.

STEAM Program

To amp it up even more…

LEDs

  • BEGINNER-Teens can sew EL Wire into the baseball caps.  You can find cheaper EL Wire but the shorter the wire the better because a ball cap doesn’t use a lot of wire and you will have excess.  There will be soldering required if you want to cut the wire so if you don’t want that hassle, try to find the shortest EL Wire.
  • INTERMEDIATE-Teens can use LED sequins, a sewable battery pack, and a coin cell battery to easily sew LEDs into a skull cap.  Here’s a post where I used sequins on a shirt but it works the same on a hat. For an even easier activity, I used an LED to sew into the pom pom and you can see that post here.  Or watch the Adafruit Youtube video that I watched.
  • ADVANCED-Teens can use a Gemma (LED arduino) to sew into the skull cap and then use the software to code it.
El Wire clotes
EL Wire on hats and clothes

3D PRINTING

  • BEGINNER-Teens can design their first initial or a small word, 3D print it, and sew it to the ball cap.  You’ll have to design small loops on both sides of the print so that you can sew it to the hat.
  • INTERMEDIATE-If you have the budget, check to see if your 3D printer offers an extruder that will print flexible filament.  If so, you can print longer words that can bend around your ball cap.
3d printed hat
You can see the 3D printed tab she used to sew it to her hat

Cell Phone Cases

We did two activities; teens could bedazzle their cases or make a case with hot glue.

The supplies I used for the bedazzling table were the same supplies I used for the hats.

Dfpq%QT3T%q2Y+ttSbElMAI learned how to make a case out of hot glue from this Youtube video.  TIP: tape does not work on parchment paper; use a glue stick. Once again, I was by myself and this was a drop in passive program so I had instructions on the table.  I always to a step by step instruction sheet using pictures.  To make this sheet, when I practice the craft, I take pictures as I go then I put all my pics with minimal text on one sheet. THIS IS HAS BEEN LIFE CHANGING!  It frees you up to help, socialize, and take pictures of the teens and it teaches teens how to follow instructions.  You’ll be surprised how teens do not know how to do this life skill.

The glitter case was really cool but I couldn’t see myself doing this as a drop in because it requires glitter with 25 teens but if you can do it, I say go for it.

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Posted in Makerspace

Quick STEAM: DIY Skull Caps

WINTER IS COMING so nows the time to do winter craft programs.

In October, we are hosting a week of bling where teens will decorate ball caps, skull caps, and will make a cell phone case.  I’ll post that in mid-October but I decided to do a separate post on our skull cap crafts.

Supplies:

Puff Ball

We’ve noticed that our teens do not understand the concept of reading directions.  So we now put paper instructions for most of our craft programs.  Paper instructions are also helpful when you expect a lot of teens but only have one or two staff.  TIP-Use more pictures and less text for your instruction sheet.  As you are practicing the craft, take pictures of each step including the supplies you are using for that step.  Put your pics together to make a step-by-step instruction sheet.

Here are my step-by-step instructions:

LED in Puff Ball

  1. Push the LED through the puff and into the hat.  Always test the LED to see if lights up.
  2. Turn the hat inside out and fold back the prongs into a curl.  Be sure to remember which prong is the + side.  Curl it differently or mark it with a Sharpie.
  3. Using the conductive thread, sew the positive side of the battery holder to the positive prong.  Sew about three loops around the holder and the prong to make it tight.  Make sure your stitches are small, otherwise, your LED may not light.  Cut the thread and repeat on the negative side.
  4. Insert the battery and your all done.
  5. You may want to sew or glue the puff ball to the hat to secure it even more.
  6. If your LED doesn’t work, change to battery, check your stitching, or make sure the threads you cut don’t touch.

Flowers on the Hat

The final step is missing, sorry.  Simply wrap the felt and glue the ends.

 

Glue gems in a desired shape.  Pom poms could also be used to decorate your hat.

The glue in the picture takes about 15 minutes to dry.  You can use hot glue if you’re in a time crunch.

IMG_4254

Posted in Holiday Programs

Halloween Parties

Halloween Parties

It’s the end of August and school’s almost back in session so it’s time to start planning for Halloween.  Tired of your same old Halloween party?  Here are some Halloween themed parties that we’ve done at our library and some horror type activities that could fit for a Halloween party.

Poe Party (Edgar Allen Poe)

Believe it or not, teens like Poe.  Many middle schools and especially high school read his work in class and since teens like anything scary, they usually like Poe.

Please click the link to see our Poe Party.

Sugar Skulls/Day of the Dead

sugar skullsWe hired someone to facilitate this program and chances are there is someone in your community you can hire.  Sugar Skulls is part of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and you literally decorate skulls made of sugar.  If you bring in a facilitator, they will probably provide a short history lesson and bring all the supplies which is great.

If you want to do them without hiring someone, you’ll probably have to order the skulls and frosting from a speciality store because I don’t think they are available on Amazon.  If you just want to do a Day of the Dead party, you can find ceramic skulls and wooden skulls on Oriental Trading.

If you want to pair with a book, Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova feature The Day of the Dead.

Murder Mysteries

Murder mysteries are a popular program at my library that we do annually. We do ours in January but one could still do them during Halloween.  The great thing about murder mysteries is that they are cheap but the bad thing is that they require A LOT of staff time.   our murder mysteries always require teen participation (actors) and an original script and these are the time suckers.  If you aren’t worried about that, please click the links below to see our past murder mysteries.

Death at a Slumber Party

Library Horror Story

We had a Medieval Murder Mystery and the actors were staff.  For this program, we had a joke contest, a joust tournament (NCAA style), and they learned a traditional dance.  We also had one of the staffers read a story from Canterbury Tales-Miller’s Wife.  We served fried chicken, potato wedges, and “mead.”

This was my first murder mystery so I didn’t save the script but the characters were a queen, a king, a prince, a princess, and the queen’s maid who was having an affair with the king.  The queen is poisoned and the teens had to guess whodunit.  Everyone had a motive.  The queen’s maid was the murderer because of the affair but we didn’t make their affair obvious to the teens.  If they were paying attention, they would have seen the one clue.  This was actually one of the best murder mysteries simply because the staff really committed to the play.

The following programs we did not do at our library but they are still good ideas that we might try.

Spooky Nails

pumpkin spice 5

This is a bit girly but some of the boys did it for fun.

We asked staff to donate any unwanted nail polish.  We purchased black, white, and purple if no one donated.  We also purchased polish remover and cotton balls.

 

Not-Quite-Halloween-Yet-Still-Fall-Themed: Pumpkin Spice Party

pumpkin spice 11

Somewhere around the middle of September, everything at the grocery store has a pumpkin spice flavor, thanks Starbucks.  So we decided to turn this into a themed party!

Decorations: We held this around Halloween and we were in our teen room so however we decorated the room, that was our decor.

Promotion: Besides our normal newsletter and flyer promotion, we did a book display of orange/red covered books in a nice fall basket.

Food: Pumpkin Spice flavored hot & iced coffee; pumpkin spice donuts; pumpkin spice Oreos; pumpkin spice popcorn; pumpkin spice cupcakes.

Activities: We made pumpkin spice lip gloss.  Search Pinterest for DIY lip gloss. It’s really easy to make-bees wax, essential oils, pumpkin spice food flavoring, and we did crayon for tint. You can purchase little glass containers at Hobby Lobby or Michaels.

 

Haunted Gingerbread Houses

Halloween at Hogwarts-You can recreate the Deathday Party Harry, Ron, and Hermione attend hosted by Nearly Headless Nick in book #2/chapter 8.

Jack Skellington Party (Nightmare Before Christmas)

Goosebumps Party (for younger teens and if your Goosebumps books still go out)

Breakout EDU-The kit costs $200 and Google provides step by step instructions for several escape room ideas.

Posted in Big Programs

Teen Read Week: Short Story Contest

The theme for Teen Read Week 2017 is Unleash Your Story which makes it the perfect time to host a short story contest for your teens.  At my library, we run an annual short story contest and 2017 will be our 5th annual.  If you are interested in hosting a contest at your library, here’s how we organize ours-ZB Inked Short Story Contest.

What Should the Rules Be?

Rules are IMPORTANT for your participants and your sanity.  Make sure your rules are appropriate for your demographic and something you can handle.  Here are our more important rules:

  • Stories should be no longer than 4 pages.  You may be inundated with hundreds zb inked 2of stories and to maintain your sanity, limit the number of pages.  In previous years, it was a three page max but our teens complained and we increased it.  We also have the rule…
  • Teens may submit up to two stories.  Once again, please be mindful of your sanity.  We did this because our contest is not themed and our teens were conflicted between what story to submit.  One teen also found this as a loophole to the 4 page limit.  He was frustrated because he couldn’t condense his story so he submitted chapter one and chapter two as two separate stories.  He won first place that year.
  • The contest is only open to teens in our district.  Some libraries open their contest to anyone but we live in a lower income community and some of our submissions are good stories but poorly executed.  We also live in one of the wealthiest counties in the state with the best schools and many, not all but many, of our teens can’t quite compete.  We want the teens in our district to have a shot at winning. I know that sounds like we have no faith in our teens/schools but in previous years, teens in neighboring districts took all three awards so we decided to limit the contest.  We occasionally get the teacher who lives out of the district and asks if their kid can participate but we sadly decline their submission.
  • We only allow emailed submissions.  This is actually a new rule for this year.  We create an anthology of the winners and it’s easier to print from email than copy from paper.  If you are opening your contest to younger teens, 4th-5th grade, you may consider paper submissions as younger teens don’t have computers or email at school.
  • Grammar Counts.  We have a strict grammar rule and since then, the submissions have been thoroughly proofread.  We also tell our teens they will be judged on creativity, originality, and use of characters.
  • We have two grade categories: 6th-8th & 9th-12th. If just isn’t fair to make a 6th grader compete with a 12th grader.
  • Not all prizes are guaranteed.  In other words, there might not be a third place winner.  On low submission years, we didn’t have good stories but we said there would be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes awarded.  This year, we will not award bad stories.
  • We don’t sensor the teens.  We do ask that they use family friendly language but they may write about abuse, LGBTQ, violence, gore, mental health, etc.   We have received submissions about abortion and gay characters and we’ve never received any complaints from parents.  We do however, put a disclaimer on those stories in the anthology.
  • Other important rules: Have a clear cut of date and time for submission deadlines.  9pm to midnight is best because teens tend to work late into the evening.  Have one email for submissions and questions.  Express an acceptable type font and size-we do Times New Roman/12/double-spaced.  Express the date when you will announce the winners otherwise you’ll have teens asking every day. Give yourself two to three weeks to judge.

ZB Library Short Story Flyer/Rules

Prizes

zb inked
Contest winner with Stacey Kade

Prizes are up to your budget but whatever your prize, list it on the flyer.

  • We host an author visit every Spring and one of our contest prizes is to have dinner with the author.  Teens enjoy this because the dinner is usually limited to 10 teens and they can ask all the questions they desire.

Get The Word Out-CHEAPLY

We live in a community where we have to jump through hoops to promote our programs and services.  If you work at a library where people actually read their newsletter, congrats and you can probably skip this part.  If you aren’t so lucky, here’s what we do:

  • Schools. We usually just send flyers to English/reading teachers and librarians but this year we will also send free books.  We received a large donation from Scholastic and we will be giving out approx. 500 books.
    • Asking Publishers for Book Donations.  We simply visit all book publishers, find the school/library marketing contact, and ask for donations.  We always describe our program and intent with the books.  You’ll receive lots of no’s but you may get lucky like we did.
    • Teachers.  Ask a teacher, librarian, or principal from each school to judge the contest.  They will be invested in the contest and encourage their students to enter.
      • At our library, our teen staff chooses the top six finalists and we have teachers judge the finalists.  Teachers are busy so don’t give them more work.
  • Social Media.  
    • Try a Facebook or Instagram boost.  Boosts are cheap ($7-$20) and they reach hundreds of patrons IN YOUR COMMUNITY.  When you post on FB, you’ll see a blue button that says, “boost.”  Click it and follow the directions.
    • Weeks leading up to the deadline, I post creative writing tips.  This is a different way of reminding your followers of the contest without being annoying.
  • Wattpad
    • Wattpad is a website where people publish their short stories and novels.  LOTS of teens read and write on Wattpad so this year we will include it in our contest.
      • We’ve created an account and teens can easily share the story with us on Wattpad and it will count as their entry.

Judging

We use a rubric that you may use below.  We also deduct points for not including a full name, grade, and school.  We put this on the rule sheet.  We do this to make teens accountable for life.  In life, you have to put your contact info; might as well start now.

We take the average from every judge to determine our winners.  We also encourage judges to make comments.

Judging Rubric

When you’ve chosen a winner, take a picture and see if you can get it in your local newspaper so that your patrons will look out for your contest next year.

zb inke

 

Posted in Makerspace

Quick STEAM: eTextiles

Looking for a quick LED project on something other than paper? Try sewable LEDs on a t-shirt.

Supplies

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How To:

  1. Test your LED sequins first with alligator clips.
  2. As you can see from the picture, I used the pocket of the t-shirt.  If you are working with novices, I’d recommend you not use the pocket because it got a bit tricky avoiding sewing the pocket shut.
  3. Have teens design a picture on paper to plan where they are going to place the LED.
    1. Keep in mind that one side of the LED must connect to the positive side of the battery holder and the negative to the other side.  This means two different tracks.  I found using one sequins is best for novices.
    2. TIP-It’s best to draw a picture that has a mirror image and then place the sequins in the middle.
  4. Have teens lightly pencil draw their picture on the t-shirt.  This is to keep their sewing straight.  Remember to hold a place for the sequins.
  5. Thread your needle.  Don’t double thread like you do traditional sewing thread.  It will be too thick.  In other words, don’t pull your thread through the eye of the needle to create two strands of thread like traditional threading.
  6. On the under side of the t-shirt, secure one side of the batter holder by looping through three times.
  7. Sew your track to your sequins.
  8. IMPORTANT!!! Make sure the positive side of the sequins faces the positive side of the battery holder.
  9. Begin a new line of thread for the other side of the battery holder and repeat.
  10. Insert the battery and cross your fingers that it works.

 

img_4109.jpg

Troubleshooting

If your LED doesn’t work:

  • Make sure you have a good battery.
  • Be sure your threads don’t touch.  This is usually the problem.
  • Make sure your sequins +/- lines up with the battery.

 

Posted in Makerspace

3D Print Your Own Fidget Spinner

Being a programming librarian basically means that we have to always be ready for the next trend.  Last summer it was Pokemon Go and this summer it has been fidget spinners.  How can libraries capitalize on the fidget spinner craze before they go out of style?  3D print them.

IMG_4087

 

Disclaimer: this program was created a facilitated by my co-worker Elise and I was a mere helper.

SUPPLIES

PREP

  • Elise began by determining the dimensions of the center ring (where the ball bearing sits). We have a Lulzbot Mini and we use Cura to print.  The center ring dimensions are: 24.5×24.5×8 (circumference-24.5 and height-8).

If you are using a different printer, you can use the dimensions of the ball bearing you purchase and go from there.  We ran into issues with this method because Cura changed the dimensions when it printed.  We don’t know why and poor Elise had to print about 8 rings until she found the correct dimensions.

  • Soak your ball bearings in rubbing alcohol to clean them.  A clean bearing spins better.

PROGRAM DAY

Before the class began, the teens were told that their spinners would not be printed by the end of program.  We had teens write down their address and they were told that their spinners would be mailed to them the following week.  This eliminates the highly likelihood of them coming into the library every hour asking for updates.

IMG_4088

  • We use Tinkercad to teach the basics of 3D printing design.  All attendees who have never 3D printed had to take six basic lessons on Tinkercad.
  • Next, we had teens begin with the ring shape and had them change the dimensions to 24.5×24.5×8.
  • Teens were then instructed to design around the center ring.
  • Tips: Everything must be the same height and touching.

COMPLETION

  • We were able to print two spinners during the program.  Teens used a hammer to secure their bearing.
  • We informed teens to apply grease to get a longer spin.
Posted in Passive Programs

M&M Mosaic

A fun passive program is M&M Mosaics.  Teens can create a message of change using M&Ms.  Just put an example with instructions and supplies in the middle of the table and let the teens take it from there.

Here’s How:

  • Set vanilla frosting and craft sticks as glue.
  • Set out bowls of different colored M&Ms.

If you have a teen room, you can set the M&Ms in the middle of the table.  Beware, teens will eat the M&Ms even if you explain that they are germy.  If you are worried about them eating them, give them pre-filled bags of M&Ms and inform them that if they eat them, there won’t be enough to make a good mosaic.  I’d recommend giving teens a fun sized bag of M&Ms for eating before or after they complete their mosaic.

Posted in Makerspace, Unboxing

April Unboxing: Moss Robot

Moss Robot from Modular Robotics

  • $200-$349
  • The box says ages 8 and up but if you don’t have advanced teens, I’d say 10 and up
  • One box can accommodate 4 students

Vote for the Next Unboxing in the comment box:

If there’s a product that you are thinking about and would like for me to unbox, leave it in the comments below.

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Don’t Just Play Games; Make Them

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.

IMG_3620

 

  • 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.
  • Pixel Press-Adventure Time is an app that allows the gamer to add coins, obstacles, and levels.
    • 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.
IMG_3619
Pixel Press Adventure Time

Minecraft Mods

  • 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.
IMG_3624
Making Minecraft Mods with Kano

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.

IMG_3628
Inside the Game Truck

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

Game Day

  • 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.