b696_edge_robotic_arm_kitFor the past five years, I’ve been running an after-school technology program with teens in grades 6- 8. We’ve done lots of different projects like READ posters, stop motion animation, digital art, photography, and podcasts.

This spring we’re trending into a a very different territory for us: robotics. I’m excited and scared about this venture and it will be a learning experience for both me and my staff and the teens. While our session doesn’t officially begin until February, I thought I would share some of the robotic kits we are considering purchasing.

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With December drawling to a close, now is the perfect time to reflect on some GREAT programs done in the last year.  The list is mainly from the YALSA blog, but I’ve included some outside sources as well.

Anime Fest: This event is geared to bring Otakus together and teach teens about the Japanese culture. Some of the activities they plan include anime ear headbands, eating with chopsticks, suminagashi art, and dressing in yukatas.

Cupcake Wars: Cupcake decorating with a twist. Teens are asked to use a book as inspiration to decorate their cupcake using only four ingredients.

Digital Camera Scavenger Hunt: A fun photo scavenger hunt that sends teens outside of the library. Not only does it sound like a lot of fun, but it gets the word about the program out into the community.

DJ Mixing: Let your teens experience being a DJ by mixing and scratching using a DJ Mixer & iTunes/Mix Vibes Plus. Great way to pull in boys and non-regulars.

Doctor Who: Not an actual program, but there are tons of crafts, games, & decoration ideas to make an awesome Doctor Who event.
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Members of my Teen Advisory Group (TAG) are lovingly called minions. While it started as a joke I called my core group long before TAG got started, I decided to make it mean something when TAG officially began. The point reward system encourages them to get involved in the teen department beyond TAG and quieted the fights over who claimed the title of “top minion”.

IMG_0512How it works

To become a minion you have to attend at least one TAG meeting. No matter how active a teens is, they cannot earn any minion points until that first meeting. Here is how the point system works:

  • Come to a program: 5 points
  • Bring a friend: 10 points
  • Write a review for the website: 5 points
  • Record a review for the website: 10 points
  • Create a book trailer: 15 points
  • Create a book poster: 10 points
  • Submit something to the Teen Creations: 5 points
  • Participate in Summer/Winter Reading: 5 points
  • Complete all 3 levels if the Reading Program: 5 points

I do assign other points for special projects as well. For example, this summer I had the teens help me create the Summer Reading Promo Video; each minion that was involved earned 20 points. I’ve also given points here are there for teens that have helped me clean up, decorate the department, or some other small job I’ve needed done.

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