Summer Learning @ Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to the 2017 Summer Learning Resource Grant the teens at the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library had a FANTASTIC time this year – and so did the staff!!!

The grant provided by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation  made it possible for a small staff of three to offer our teens a variety of activities.  They got to experience how videogames work with Makey Makeys, assembling and coding a Robolink drone, connecting servos and programming  a Arduino nano board, & plenty more.  Our teens had a summer full of fun activities with tools most had never seen or played with before.

Every Thursday evening the library offered a new program that implemented STEAM learning in a fun and interactive way.  The first program had teen constructing cardboard armor with duct tape, scissors, and craft supplies to withstand a water balloon battle.  Each teen could research different methods and designs to craft their armor using the library’s public computers. The teens had a blast in covering their armor in tape, crafting tall helmets, armbands, and leg braces.  The teens split into two teams and tested their armors durability and strength. Some were winners, some not so much, but all had a fun time. The next summer program had teens weaving recycled t-shirt rugs for our local Friends of Animal groups fundraiser.   Each chose colors from materials donated to weave together.  The teens utilized small hula hoops as their base to weave. Almost all of the teens then gave their creations to the Friends of Animals, Fixin’s For Fixin’ Fundraiser, but each also learned how to care and weave a mat for their own pets at home. 

The third summer program had an emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, while exploring the creativity of art.  Teens attended an art course 101 painted with watercolors using the Paint Yourself Calm technique, learning stress coping mechanisms and color soothing effects. Each teen used colors of their choice and painted miniature galaxies within circles using watercolor painting materials purchased with grant funds. Many teens showed a great interest in continuing this program, so we will be starting a teen coloring and watercolor sessions in the fall. We have already committed to purchasing more art supplies to facilitate teen interest this fiscal year and will be taking surveys on what types of visual arts they would like to experiment with.

Another program we had covered wildlife native to Tennessee. The teenagers of the afternoon program got to learn about the different animals of our region when Ms. Ashley Webster of the US Corps of Engineers visited the library.  For interactive learning the teens got to play Animal Tracks Bingo to learn more about the animals and receive prizes for their winning Bingo cards.  After the presentation, Kate Chalman library director, helped the teens use a Makey Makey device that allows you to turn everyday objects such as bananas and cups of water into touchpads that can be used to play games such as Bongos and Piano on the computer. After demonstrating the basics and explaining how electrical currents work, each teen took turns in experimenting with different fruits, play dough, and creating their own sensory boards to play.

‘Science with Mr. Brian’ was one of our most popular STEM programs. Teens learned the basics of physics while making catapults and pom pom shooters.  They deciphered binary code while creating glow in the dark bead bracelets. They learned about how light combines and does not always make the colors that we are used to seeing in art. Each teen took home an exploding boomerang, a binary bracelet, all of their constructed experiments, and bouncy balls for fun.

To encourage more technology learning, the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library held ‘Code a Drone’ with our very own Robolink Codrone and ‘Learning Raspberry Pi with Mr. Hyde’ sessions. Both of these programs taught our teen patrons the basics of computer science and allowed them to utilize the library as an interactive resource for learning. All the materials for both of these projects are now available as part of our new Maker Space cart and there are instructions with each set.

The drone came disassembled so teens first put together the remote as a team to navigate and upload code to the drone via blue tooth.  Next teens inputted lines of code into the free Arduino system to signal the drone when to fly, how far to go, in what direction, and where to land.  This was much easier said than done, but kids had a great time learning by doing. No matter what skill level the children were at they were still able to upload a few lines of code with the examples and online tutorials provided.  The drone was also functional with the use of an app for kids wanting to take it for a quick spin.

‘Raspberry Pi with Mr. Hyde’ involved connecting Arduino mini nano boards to module airplane servos and LEDs.  This allowed the participants to program the lights and servos with arduino’s open-source electronic prototyping platform.  The teens enjoyed assembling their servos with ‘eyes’ capable of detecting light and coding LED lights to blink at different rates per minute.  As a retired programmer , Mr. Hyde offered to teach the class as long as we bought the materials. The Teen Summer Learning Resource Grant made these two programs possible and provided us the materials to keep on teaching these courses and adding to our curriculum.

The last programs the library sponsored were a lecture on ‘Anthropology and Social Justice’ that was presented by PhD student Krista Billingsley. Krista Billingsley spent all of 2016 in Nepal, a country located along the northern border of India. There Mrs. Billingsley studied how the internal armed conflict between the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists — and the Nepal government between 1996 – 2006 had affected people of different ethnicity and caste systems in rural and urban areas.  In explaining her work, Krista also discussed the topics of gender vs. sex, racism and its history, and how modern anthropologist are documenting all possible viewpoints to understand why inequality still exists. The teen took place in an open discussion on what they could do as teens to make a difference and how  to express their opinions in society. 

Hello, my Name is Kathrine Chalman, and I’ve served as director of the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library since July 2015. Having earned a Masters of Information Science Degree from the University of Tennessee, and started a number of library programs for teens, children, and adults this year, including a Story Time for Kids, Teen Board Game Night, Coffee and Coloring, and Young Adult Book Club. I recently taught a basic coding course at the local high school and am eager to share ideas and learn new programming methods.  With the completion of the library’s 2017 Summer Reading Program, I plan to start additional teen programming, including art and more coding courses. The Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library 2017 Summer Reading Program set record breaking numbers in both attendance, community partnerships, and programming outreach.

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