IMG_1082The Putnam County Library System – headquartered in Palatka, FL – will be celebrating the theme of “Create it at your Library” with an Invention and Creativity Convention March 4-12, 2016. Called Create Con, this competition is meant to showcase and award teen talent and encourages research, creativity, experimentation, and innovation. The Putnam County competition will start on March 4th at the Melrose Branch and conclude March 11th at Interlachen Branch Library. One talented teen (ages 13-18) will win the First Place Prize for the System: a 7” Kindle Fire and a $50 gift card. There is a also Tri-County (Putnam, Alachua, and Levy counties) competition that takes place at the Alachua County Library District Headquarters on Saturday, March 12th. The Grand Prize (awarded to the top teen from all three counties) includes a 3Doodler Pen and a $100 gift card. There will also be a school age division (ages 6-12) held locally with special prizes including a Makey Makey Kit.

IMG_1081There are many ways to compete including 1) creating a prototype or drawing of an original invention, 2) writing a research paper on a famous inventor or invention, or 3) a showing a creative project (artwork, website, app, game, etc.). Competitors are expected to showcase their work on a tri-fold display board. Create Con applications and guidebooks can be picked up at the library. Applicants are encouraged to contact Jeremy Yates, Special Projects Coordinator, at the Headquarters Library.

IMG_1078Area youth are also encouraged to attend monthly “Technology Petting Zoos” at each of the five branches of the Library System. They are so named because participants are encouraged to touch, play, and experiment with maker space equipment including 3D printers, robots, electronics, kits, video and audio equipment, and more. The library has also started hosting Maker Boot Camps at the Headquarters Palatka Library. These 1-2 hour courses will cover these like 3D Design, Basic Circuitry, and Intro to Robotics. They will make their way to the branch libraries this summer. In the meantime, maker kits are being assembled for patrons to check out at the Circulation Desk for use inside the library. These will include Snap Circuits and simple robot kits.

The Library System is also getting ready to install Raspberry Pi Coding and Gaming Stations in the Teen Zone of all five of its branches. These credit-card sized mini computers cost just $35 and come with their own free (Linux based) operating system called Raspbian. Our Raspberry Pis will also feature Minecraft Pi (a creative-only version of the game) and Scratch (for creating your own games and animations). For an average investment of around $100 a station, these stations are meant to kickstart the library’s Minecraft/LEGO Builder’s Club and encourage more teens to Hang Out, Mess Around, and Geek Out after school in the library.


Create Con Competition Dates and Technology Petting Zoos:

Melrose Branch Library: Friday, March 4th, 3:30-5:30pm

Bostwick Branch Library: Tuesday, March 8th, 4-6pm

Crescent City Branch Library: March 9th, 3:30-5:30pm

Headquarters Palatka Library: Thursday, March 10th, 3:30-5:30pm

Interlachen Branch Library: Friday, March 11th, 3-5pm

This is the second technology grant awarded to the Library System in the past year. In 2015, the Library System was awarded a $10,000 Innovation Grant from NEFLIN (the North East Florida Library Information Network) to start a mobile maker space and digital media lab and increase its STEAM program offerings.


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