TTW: Start with What You’ve Got

Feel less than tech savvy? Concerned that you are not techie enough to pull off a Teen Tech week program? Well, don’t be! While it is fantastic to have the double bonus of offering coding or robotics during Teen Tech Week (March 9-15) the reality is that many of us do not have the skills, budgets, the time or the passion to learn them.  Remember the foundation of Teen Tech Week is to promote our library’s digital offerings. Additionally it is more than likely that you have more digital skills than you give yourself credit for. And if you don’t have those skills you can probably get a teen to help you work out some of the kinks.  Start by thinking about what skills and tools you have rather than what you don’t have. For example you may not have a gaming system, but your library almost definitely has public access computers.  Are they easy to block off for teen use? Have a minecraft challenge, you can create a challenge using the demo version, or have an open source gaming party. There are some free online coding academy’s that have become popular with younger teens. Creating book trailers is still popular, and basic screen casting software is free and easy to use. Or create some animated GIFs, the software for this is also free and easy to use, and almost everyone has some sort of digital camera, on their phone or otherwise. Make some related to how teens feel about favorite (or hated books) and post them to your social media pages.

What types of digital services do you have? Teens are frequently excited and surprised to learn they can download free books, do research using the databases, access 24 hour chat reference or have papers proof read for free using the library’s online tutoring service. It isn’t difficult to create a digital scavenger hunt; you can keep it simple, just create some questions that the teens have to answer using your digital resources. It is easy and free to add a QR code component. Create a bingo card where they have to tell you one thing about a digital service per square. The beauty of the scavenger hunt or bingo is that they are self directed programs use little staff time once created and can frequently be recycled with a little updating.

What to get more hands on? If you have a limited budget you can create some catapult challenges, there are many different designs to be found on the web. Surprising how engaged the teens become when you make it a challenge, especially if you have prizes. If you have a little money to spend you can build brush bots and have brush bot races. The materials can be sourced for a reasonable price online or you can buy kits depending on the size of your budget.

Still at a loss? Check out the Teen Tech Week Forums for ideas, or add some of your own.

Carla Avitabile
Teen Tech Week Committee

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