2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Pi in the Sky – Combining AstroCamp with Legacy Gaming

The 2019 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant allowed us to make the most of our summer kids and teens program Nerd Camp. Nerd Camp was five days at each of our branches where the campers were able to perform from NASA’s and Stennis Space Center’s AstroCamp as well as a day of retro video gaming using Raspberry Pis, monitors and controllers purchased with our grant. By partnering with Stennis Space Center, we were able to increase the learning opportunities for rural and under-served teens and youth and present them with NASA created projects to pique interested in space-related learning. Stennis provided eight hours of training in science as well as many projects that we integrated seamlessly into our program. This training allowed us to pass the knowledge on to youth service specialists and volunteers within the program. The coverage created by this allowed for all our volunteers, our summer intern, as well as our youth specialists to engage with the youth and ensure a higher level of help and learning.

These activities mixed into our existing ideas and program well and flowed directly into our retro gaming and raspberry pi ending extremely well. This showed how science and technology can pair with programming and computers and the use of the pis showed a common use that simple computing knowledge can achieve. Also, this built excitement for science and technology within an underserved community that dovetailed into the summer reading theme of “A Universe of Stories.”

With our five Nerd Camps across all five of our branches, we saw a preponderance of engagement from the community. Our community is an economically diverse one. Because many of our youth patrons get free lunches at school during the year, we wanted to be able to offer that for the days of our camps. To do this we partnered with various restaurants at each branch to provide lunch for the youth and volunteers at each camp. This allowed our partners to have an impact in the community and for the youth at our camps to have a provided meal. While we were able to provide lunch every day at our camps, there was a time we struggled to find partnerships. In the end, however, we locked in both local eateries as well as chains to have lunch provided. Also, through working with McAllister’s Deli we were able to provide snacks and iced tea to two camps as well. During our time in the Canton branch we utilized the summer free lunch program that we offer through the school district at the branch to provide meals for the campers. This allowed us to focus on finding partners for our other four branches while ensuring that the youth at Canton had food provided.

Engagement during camp was a wonderful success. At the Madison branch, we saw a turnout of 20 children. This number was steady through all four days of our camp. At our Camden branch, which is a rural community that serves a population of 900, we saw 10 campers daily. During these days, we were able to have the youth design and fire rockets, learn about computer and gaming, and be exposed to STEM concepts in a fun and engaging way.

 

Dawn Collins is the Youth Services Director for the Madison County Library System.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Summer STEAM Squad at the Lockport Branch Public Library

Lockport Branch Public Library was very grateful to be selected for the 2019 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant. The Lockport Branch Public Library is one of nine branches of the Lafourche Parish Public Library System. We are located in southernmost part of Louisiana. Our area is largely rural, with nearly 27% of households without internet access, making the library necessary for our patrons’ recreational and educational needs. Recent library programs have shown a marked increase of interest in S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), but many adolescents and teens lack the resources, skills, and mentoring needed to expand their knowledge to succeed in future career paths and to benefit their communities.

A teen plays with lego bricks.

My Planet Rover w/ Lego Mindstorms

Our YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant focused introducing teens to various aspects relating to STEAM, and generating interest in new technologies for a better tomorrow. With the grant, we were able to provide programs throughout the summer to the central area of Lafourche Parish. Each program theme tied into this year’s Summer Reading Program theme, A Universe of Stories.

A teen plays with lego bricks.

My Planet Rover w/ Lego Mindstorms

In the past, our teen program attendance rate has been lower than our children and adult programs offered during the summer months. To entice teens, we hosted 6-STEAM related programs over a 2 month period. Our teens were able to construct and build a Dobsonian telescope, create original bilingual hybrid media pop-up books, learn coding for web design, build and code with Lego Mindstorms, and learn the importance of clean water and sustainability. One of our main goals was to educate teens on STEAM related careers, as they are mostly exposed to agricultural and oil-field related careers. We strived to provide a safe space where our teens could learn math and engineering skills in a fun and non-formal way. Another main goal was to improve teen program attendance at programs during the summer reading program. Comparing this year’s attendance to last year’s, the Lockport Branch showed substantial improvement in program attendance.

A teen does a water purification experiment.

STEAM Squad: Water Purification

Teens play with popup books.

Hybrid Popup Books

In the future, we would like some of these programs to travel to school events in our parish, such as school job fairs, to reach more teens of Lafourche Parish. We hope to also partner with our local Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU Ag Center, which provides Louisiana citizens with research-based educational information that will improve their lives and economic well-being) to offer more programs about the importance of health and sustainability. 

 

 

Katie Cheramie is the Central Area Administrator for Lockport Branch Public Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Building Interest in Technology Programs for Teens

 The City of Warren is located in Southeast Michigan. In 2017, it was estimated that 31.4% of youth under the age of 18 in Warren live at less than 100% of the federal poverty level. Technological literacy is an important skill that can empower youth to have successful lives and careers. Youth who are affected by poverty are likely to fall behind their peer group in their ability to comprehend and manipulate technologies, limiting their future educational and career prospects.

The inside of a completed Google AIY kit.

The Warren Public Library was fortunate to receive a Summer Learning Resource Grant funded by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Our goal was to introduce teens to new kinds of technology, specifically virtual reality and artificial intelligence.  We used the grant money to purchase two Oculus Go headsets, four AIY kits by Google, and books about applied science.

Previous teen tech-based programs at the library have had low attendance. It is difficult to discern why this is the case, but we made a few decisions to help us try to raise teen attendance numbers throughout the summer. 

First, we decided that our technology programs would focus on “process” learning instead of “product” learning. Our goal was to familiarize teens with the technology tools, not to teach them to be experts. For this reason, we allowed them to experiment with the tools with very few specific goals in mind. This made the process more fun and lower pressure because the teens knew there was no right or wrong way to go about using the tools.

The Voice kit is on the left and the Vision kit is on the right.

Second, we brought the tools to programs that were not technology based. For example, the Oculus Go sets were available at our monthly Teen Spot program, Anime Club, and our summer learning closing lock-in. This allowed us to introduce them to a much wider audience. Specifically, it helped us to reach teens who would not have been interested in signing up for a “tech” program. 

Third, we did not focus on “educational” activities. Because our main goal was to interest young people in newer forms of technology, we felt that any use of the tools was educational. For example, while we did download Oculus Go apps that allowed users to “tour” the Anne Frank House, we also downloaded roller coaster simulations and adventure games. 

Finally, we asked our Friends of the Library to volunteer to assist with our teen programs this summer. While this was originally for practical purposes, it actually had an interesting effect. Many of the Friends are retirees who are not familiar with technology.  The teens’ greater comfort with technology led to collaboration and learning opportunities for everyone. 

The Oculus Go headset and control.

Although some programs still did not meet target attendance numbers, overall Warren Public Library had more successful teen programs than in previous summers. Perhaps most telling is our “Space Age Tech Day” which introduced both the Oculus Go sets and the AIY kits. While only six teens attended, it greatly improved over our previous technology event for teens, which had zero attendees.   

 

Julianne Novetsky is the Library Technician at Warren Civic Center Library.

 

YALSA Digital Equipment Grant Winner: Teens Take Ownership of Books

Though I spent years as an elementary school teacher and school media specialist, then as a children’s librarian in a public library system, it was with YALSA that I really found my niche as a librarian. I love working with teens, and I’ve learned so much from my peers.

Now when I see an email from YALSA, I’m quick to read it. I believe the collaborative grants YALSA has with Dollar General are some of the best. When I read in the spring about the $1,000 Digital Literacy Equipment Grant, I knew it was just what my school library needed.

We have some great makerspace tools in the media center, but a number of them would be more useful with digital apps. Our one iPad, however, was too old to install apps, and it only came with the basics from however-many-years-ago. I knew we weren’t getting enough from the technology we had.

I would have used my personal phone and/or iPad mini, but the district no longer puts employee devices on the wifi network (a ban since lifted). Our media center is directly in the middle of the school—and on the first floor. It’s a dead zone for any Internet-based technology not on the network.

Cue the hero music–I knew just what we could use with that $1,000 grant opportunity! I’d solve both problems with a couple of the most recent iPad minis (I like the friendly size of the minis), get sturdy shockproof cases for both, and give the students practice with an Apple pencil, too. This was cutting it close to the $1,000 limit, but I figured if I went over budget, I’d chip in the rest. Teachers are always paying out of pocket for students and I’m no exception!

School was out in mid-June when I discovered that our media center was one of the libraries selected for the grant. Oh, and I was reminded that we’d need to do a project, using our new grant equipment, to promote the Teens’ Top Ten book awards. I was actually in Arizona on vacation when I had to sign the paperwork before the deadline (thanks, Mom, for printing the contract for me!).

While awaiting the funds, I thought through the best way to create the project. It was going to be difficult—school would be starting, and the teachers were getting to know their students and establishing routines. The start of a school year is always busy, and I had new responsibilities, too. What I also have, though, is a supportive school administration, a great working relationship with an understanding English Language Arts teacher who always puts reading first, and my regulars: students that frequent the media center (even multiple times a day) for books to read.

I notified YALSA that we would make a digital book about the Teens’ Top Ten nominee titles, using the Book Creator app, and that it would incorporate the use of green screen pictures and videos using the Green Screen by Do Ink app.

First, we created the basic digital book in Book Creator. After considering—and trying—a few options, we kept it simple: an image of the cover along with the title and author on the left side of each two-page spread and a video for that book on the right. With 25 nominated books, that meant a 52-page book with the front and back covers!

Then we used the Green Screen by Do Ink app. The app uses layers to create the composite image. One layer is the main part of the video: we used videos of students standing in front of the makerspace’s green screen. The middle layer is the background image or video—the part replacing the green screen. Although we didn’t do this, another layer with animation or other features  could be added.

After a few failed attempts, we decided to prerecord one video for each nominated book using the iPad’s installed Camera app. I gave each student an annotation for a nominated title. The students practiced reading their annotations—and discovered how difficult it is to speak when you’re in front of a camera!

We selected an image or a video to be used as the background layer for each book’s final video. It had to match the feel of the story. It was fun trying to decide the best way to capture the theme of each book. Pixabay is a great source for images that can be legally used. Some artists allow free use of their videos, too. Continue reading

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Ford Memorial Library

At the Ford Memorial Library we are striving to provide tech education and resources to teens and young people in our rural area. With the recent expansion of our building we have been able to implement more tech infrastructure including a much faster network and internet connection, as well as our new mobile tech lab (pictured). This summer we have run a number of programs and activities to facilitate the goal of increasing tech literacy among our local youth.

Teens sit in a classroom for a presentation. Teens work on laptop computers.

Our teen intern, Harrison, was a key part of that process this summer. We hired him initially based on his previous customer service experience and interest in technology. We believe he shares our vision for bettering tech infrastructure in the area, and in addition to helping us with programs we also allowed him space to pursue his own projects. He created a video for our YouTube channel, taught a class on iOS, and did a considerable amount of research and outreach to help us bring an electric vehicle charger to our new parking lot.

From Harrison:

In my time at the Edith B. Ford Memorial Library, I have gained a plethora of knowledge. While participating as the Teen Intern at the library I took part in activities associated with our Summer Reading/Learning Program. During this endeavor, I managed time that involved setting up, cleaning up, as well as managing start and end times with the movement of youth groups. I also developed science-related activities for youth groups regarding astronomy. Further, at the end of the Summer Reading Program, I creatively displayed literary works and coordinated their movements on our shelves. Additionally I set up and moved technological equipment such as those used for photography, videography and gaming. Likewise, I put this equipment to use while taking photos, recording videos, and setting up and logging gaming equipment for patrons. In conjunction with technology, I assisted patrons using their devices as well as those owned by the library. Additionally I assessed the uses of technology both from a modern point of view as well as from an archaic point of view. Furthermore I gained insight into consumer relations and customer service. This was achieved by taking phone calls from patrons and local libraries and completing actions that are required to assure a seamless experience among our surrounding communities. 

My personal project was to bring an electric vehicle charging station to our area. This project was something that was of interest to not only myself, but to some of the other library staff. This involved researching options as to the companies that would make both logistical and practical sense to work with for our current plans for what the end product to this project would be. After assessing companies to work with, I chose one and began our endeavor towards a solution to this lack of a charging station in our centrally located area. It started with an email to the company, which led to an organized business call with the company to assess costs as well as rebates which our non-profit library could benefit from. This led me to discover the tasks of a business in operating alongside companies to gain a desired outcome. This led me to contact the director of the library and start the process of getting a quote as to the installation of a charger in the parking lot of our library. This was a great learning opportunity for myself in order to gain insight as to the operations of a business.

 

Luke Hodde is an IT Specialist at Edith B. Ford Memorial Library. 

Want to grow interest in computing at your library? Host a meet-up!

This is a guest post by Marijke Visser from ALA’s Washington Office

The ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT Aspirations are working together this year to provide monthly topics through the “Community Champion Learning Series for Libraries“. This month our focus is on connecting libraries with local young women passionate about computing.

If your library values equity of opportunity and has a common goal to increase the meaningful participation of girls in women in computing locally, serves as a hub for resources and programs within the community and you have an interest in supporting local girls/women with the opportunity of computing and the “Aspirations” programs, you may be interested in hosting a local NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community meet-up at your library.

In person meet-ups have several benefits for the library host and for the local Aspirations in Computing Community members that attend. Click here for more information and next steps.

Visit the archives here for past and upcoming topics. Questions for NCWIT? Email aichelp@ncwit.org.

Using Podcasting to Build Self-Confidence and Teach Teamwork

Having worked closely with teens in public libraries for thirteen years, I have discovered they are among the most creative of age groups. Who else would think of a Harry Potter character jumping out of library shelves for a promotional video, or representing themselves and their friends with anime drawings? Teens are always full of surprises, just waiting for a chance to be expressed. Libraries have growing numbers of culturally diverse teens involved each year and that adds more fun to my job, but library programs aren’t always keeping up with change. Youth programs should help build teamwork and confidence, and teens should be encouraged to speak their minds and find their voices. Podcasting can encourage youth to speak about their diverse cultures and viewpoints, foster self-confidence, and develop new technology skills they can use for life. Teaching teens how to podcast is a great way to empower your teens and give them a platform to voice their opinions and unique experiences.

The first step toward great podcasting is to prepare a room with the necessary tools, the appropriate seating space, and a relaxed ambience. I know from experience that teens will open up and speak their minds only with someone they are comfortable with and in a place where they feel safe and relaxed. I chose the Discover Studio, a makerspace lab where we teach technology programs at the Boca Raton Public Library. The Discover Studio is a private space with nine Mac computers and GarageBand preinstalled on each. My goal is to design this as a program—not a formal class—and I envision this as a gathering place for the teens to hang out and tinker with their creative projects. In this studio, we also have high-quality microphones that the teens can share. Audacity will do the job if your lab has Windows computers, but GarageBand is my preference since it is intuitive and has many built-in features and effects. It also comes with a variety of sound clips ready to use.

My podcasting programs offer three sessions, each scheduled once per month. Most of the teens participating in podcasting are our regulars—some of them already know each other from joining in other teen programs and book clubs. For easy recording, I divide them into groups of four or five.

Teens huddle around a computer to create a podcast.

Photo from the Boca Raton Public Library’s Facebook – June 21, 2018

With an appropriate setting prepared, it’s time to get to work on the teens’ podcasts. Giving these youth the freedom to choose their own topics is an absolute must for a successful program. My teens have told me they love music, movies, manga and anime, food, actors and actresses, YA books, sports, travels, poetry, cultures, fashion, video games, crafts, and current socialissues.. But don’t assume your local teens have the same interests; you must ask them! To start, it might help to use icebreaker activities so they can get to know each other and get comfortable with you. I also set up a flip chart and make a list of what they want to talk about. (In the case of my teens, I suggested they vote for three topics they wanted to focus on.)

Each group member should choose a “role” in the first production. They can be a host, co-host, guest, music manager, or podcast editor. It can take the shape of popular formats such as a standard podcast, a forum, or a radio talk show. Setting up a timer is an effective way to keep track of time and make sure that no one  dominates the discussion. In a rewarding session everyone has a chance to contribute, and it’s your job to facilitate that outcome! The podcast can start with introducing themselves and the topic (or name of the podcast) to the audience, unless the teens come up with a more creative beginning.

Now that you and your teens are involved in the podcasting, it’s time to  focus on content. Ideally this is a forum where all teens have a chance to share their unique cultures and backgrounds as well as their individual thoughts and experiences. In one of my sessions, the teens enjoyed talking about food in their respective cultures. The host asked each guest to take turns talking about delicacies. I was surprised to learn so many new dishes from what they shared in a one-hour program: Poulet Aux Noix or chicken and cashew nuts is a Haitian dish. Popular in middle-eastern countries like Greece and Turkey, Baklava is a rich sweet dessert filled with chopped nuts and syrup or honey. A student from Thailand mentioned Thom Kha Gai, a chicken coconut soup.

It’s helpful to let the teens unwind and talk freely first to get the creativity flowing, and wait to edit the piece afterward. Don’t worry so much about music and effects that might distract from the main content. If necessary, you can help them insert music later. Somewhere along the line, you’ll  need to cover the basics of using the app of your choice, and all podcast sessions should include a quick lesson on copyright, creative common license, and public domain.

Teens work in a computer lab.

Photo from the Boca Raton Public Library’s Facebook – June 21, 2018

During our session, a spirited discussion about manga and anime followed the food talk. The teens talked about their favorite manga or anime and recommended the series to their friends. K-pop music and Korean drama is another engaging topic for teens. In creating a podcast, teens learn how to produce content that fits with their interests and displays their unique talents. They can read poetry they write, perform impersonations, retell stories, or share rap music—whatever fits their own style.

I see podcasting as one of our greatest tools to build self confidence in teens. Since podcasts revolve around topics that teens are passionate about, they tend to talk more freely, showcasing their skills, interests, and talents. Finally, they have the experience of someone listening to their point of view and caring enough to ask what they think about an issue.  This is a forum where their opinions count (including a diversity of individual opinions and cultural differences) and their creativity can shine. Teens have a chance to work together as a team to brainstorm ideas and create a quality product. They can also use the technological skills they learn to produce podcasts of their own!

Learn more about podcasting with teens:
http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/teentechweek/ttw08/resourcesabcd/techguide_podcst.pdf
https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=prime-time-podcasts

Where can you publish podcasts with no cost?
Apple Podcasts: https://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/for/podcasting
PodBean: https://www.podbean.com/start-podcast
Archive: https://archive.org/
Buzzsprout: https://www.buzzsprout.com

Sukalaya Kenworthy is a Youth Services Supervisor at the Boca Raton Public Library. She holds an MLIS from the University of South Florida and an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Central Missouri. When not leading book groups or teaching Maker, Robotics, and Coding classes at the library, Sukalaya watches Korean drama, attends church, reads juvenile and YA fiction, and tries her hand at new Thai recipes. Sukalaya was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Libraries Welcome All Families: Makerspace Mondays!

The AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation is now focusing its work on equity, diversity, and inclusion projects that include library partnerships. This blog post is the first in this new series.

The YALSA Call to Action Futures Report challenges libraries to “leverage new technologies and become kitchens for ‘mixing resources’ in order to empower teens to build skills, develop understanding, create and share, and overcome adversity.” In Hampstead, MD, a small town in Carroll County, the media center at Shiloh Middle School assumed that “kitchen” motif on Monday afternoons once a month, as Media Specialist, Holly Furhman, and Amanda Krumrine, Library Associate II, Carroll County Public Library (CCPL), partnered to provide a variety of STEM experiences to middle schoolers on Makerspace Mondays.  

Makerspace Mondays was born out of the realization that tweens attending this middle school did not have transportation to the CCPL during the week or on weekends when Maker programs were offered — due to lack of public transportation in the community, dual working parents’ schedules, and the distance of the nearest library branch to many neighborhoods.  The goal was to expose students to a variety of Maker opportunities in a relaxed environment.    

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Why Makerspaces Are So Important in Public Libraries

From large urban libraries to small rural ones, makerspaces are happening. Spaces like these are important because they give people of all ages the opportunity to gain knowledge on their own through hands-on exploration. The possibilities are endless and can range from being tech-based, such as 3D printing and multi-media, to art carts and building stations.

Libraries are Always Ahead of the Game:

In 2015, The Teen Tech Week theme Libraries are for Making highlighted the fact that indeed libraries have always been “centers for “making” and “creation” for as long as we have been having crafts, programs, and classes! Everyone seems to think that a makerspace needs to be high-tech and technology driven, but all it really needs to be is a program or space that enables and encourages teens to explore, create, and share.,” says Christie Gibrich, Senior Librarian at Grand Prairie Library System. (Young Adult Library Services, Volume 13, Number 2)

Our Art Cart

I work at the Reading Public Library, District Center in Reading, PA located in Berks County. We are fortunate to have a space dedicated to teens called the Teen Loft. In that space, teens have simple makerspace areas that I have created based on the interest of the teens and the resources many lack at home. One of those spaces is our Art Cart. We take for granted having access to simple things such as crayons, markers, paper, scissors, and glue. Our building makerspace consists of K’Nex, Legos, Moon Sand, and more. We also have a monthly themed makerspace challenge to keep things interesting such as our Granny Square project and decorating bookends that we featured for Teen Read Week this year. In many circumstances, these are luxuries for our patrons because their parents and guardians cannot afford them. They look to us for a space to relax and socialize with their peers. Programs are great and fortunately, we can provide them daily, but there is something about being able to have the time to explore on your own terms. Makerspaces provide that opportunity and support resources in our collection.

How Do I Start a Makerspace?

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Research Roundup Blog – Year-Round Teen Services

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you. To match the theme of the fall issue, this column focuses on year-round teen services by examining current articles that share opportunities to mentor teens and support their leadership development.

“The Value of Continuous Teen Services: A YALSA Position Paper” available at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/value-continuous-teen-services-yalsa-position-paper. In April 2018, YALSA published a position paper recommending school and public librarians “support healthy adolescent development, teen interests, and work to help mitigate the issues teens face by providing year-round teen services.” Current research also points to the value of including teens in the planning process to ensure authentic learning experiences and provide young adults with opportunities for leadership and personal growth.

“Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills” available at https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/. A popular new idea in year-round teen services involves teaching basic life skills. Adulting 101 programs might have originally been planned for older patrons, however librarians are reporting high attendance from teenagers. Teresa Lucas, assistant director of North Bend Public Library in Oregon, and library assistant Clara Piazzola “created a monthly series of six programs focused on cooking, finances, job hunting, news literacy, apartment living, and miscellaneous topics such as cleaning an oven and checking engine oil” (Ford 2018). Programming costs are minimal and oftentimes community members volunteer to teach specific areas of expertise. Adulting 101 series provide a meaningful service to teenagers preparing for their future.

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