At our library, we would like to fit more STEM ‘ into our programming, but I struggle with coming up with STEM projects that appeal to our service age group. Anything that sounds remotely like a classroom activity is dismissed by teens.

I was pleasantly surprised when the Science Experiments You Can Eat program passed through our TAG (teen advisory group) vetting! Perhaps the appeal involved using food, as our annual Teen Top Chef competition in the fall is one of our most popular events of the year.

713 Science Experiments You Can Eat

The program had the advantage of being inexpensive, because the supplies were all household ingredients and supplies.

The experiments we carried out included:

Straw through Potato

photo Read More →

This was our third Annual Anime Fest. Our goal when planning this program was to expose the teens to aspects of Japanese culture featured in the manga and anime in our collection, as well as to get them talking about their favorite anime and manga. The teens are geektastic in their exuberance for anime and manga, but they often don’t have friends who share their passion. We bring these people together, and the results are so fun to witness. In previous years we’ve learned samurai moves from a kendo instructor, made mochi (a Japanese dessert), listened to Japanese pop music, and created kokeshi dolls.

713 Teen AnimeFest

Our event features several staple activities every year. They include eating with chopsticks, dressing in yukatas (summer kimonos), watching anime (this year we watched Legend of the Millennium Dragon), and playing Naruto Wii.


We then bring in a few new elements to keep it fresh. Read More →

Across all age groups,’ spies seem to be universally loved, so we split this program into two sessions, one for kids and one for teens. Some adults did stop by and were encouraged to try the different stations as well.

This program was highly inspired by Rachel Moani’s Spy Training Academy program at Lacey Timberland Library.

713 Spy Games

For the program, we created Spy Games cards so everyone could assume an identity and check off every station they completed. All of the spy games are actually Secret Service code names for presidential family members or presidential nominee family members. Read More →

DJ mixing ‘ is’ essentially’ creating a continuous musical track by combining songs or sounds, mixed together using loops, scratching, or other techniques.’ The Teen Advisory Group tends to be drawn more to geeking out, crafting, and competition. But as this has a much cooler vibe than most, this program brought in some guys that had never shown up at our events before.

713 DJ Mixing

For this event, we bought one basic DJ mixer (the MixVibes Ion Discover DJ with MixVibes Cross) which works with your desktop computer’s iTunes. Basically it can pull all your iTunes songs straight into the MixVibes Cross software where you can then mix up the songs, scratch, loop, and create playlists. Some accomplished DJs you might know include DJ Jazzy Jeff, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, DJ AM, Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, Grandmaster Flash, Spinderella, DJ Skribble, Samantha Ronson, and Jam Master Jay, and while the DJ mixer software is simple to use,’ it has enough bells and whistles for a beginner to play with. Read More →

We have held this program four years in a row, and it is always a hit. We’ve worked out most of the kinks. Like the quote art program, this program is designed for teens who love customizing their world. Many businesses like Nike and RedEnvelope allow customization of mass-produced items, and almost every social networking site and electronic game is set up for users to define themselves via customization, so our library tries to plan a few programs a year that work on the same premise. While this is a gender-neutral program, most often this program draws more guys than girls.

713 Design TShirt

t-shirts of various sizes and colors
iron-on t-shirt transfers
wooden cutting board


Step One: Teens design their t-shirt in Microsoft Publisher or another graphic design program. I always stress that the teens can not sell their t-shirt if they use any image from the web.

Step Two: Teens print their image out on t-shirt transfer paper. It is critical to follow the t-shirt transfer directions. Our Library’s white t-shirt transfers images needed to be reversed (If you’re using Publisher, you can handle this in “Printer Preferences”) while the Library’s color t-shirt transfers did not.

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This program was inspired by the overflowing amount of quotation art on Pinterest, and it is one of the few of my programs that actually follows the cooperative summer reading theme “Beneath the Surface.” The program is very easy, but it does involve spray paint, which is always nerve-racking.

613 Teen Quote Art

Supplies needed:
acrylic paint (if using plain canvas)
paint brushes
cups of water
plain stretched canvas (wait for a sale. JoAnn Fabrics had theirs 50% off) or thrift store canvas paintings
spray paint in various colors (who knew glitter spray paint existed?)
vinyl letters of various sizes and fonts


Step One: Paint the plain stretched canvas a variety of colors with your acrylic paint to create a completely covered base layer of paint. It can be a sunset blend or dabs of a variety of colors all over. The base should be strikingly different than the chosen spray paint. Let the paint dry (takes approximately an hour). If you are starting with all thrift store paintings, skip step one.

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Our annual digital camera scavenger hunt is among the easiest of programs to run. It basically works like a promotional street team: the teens leave the library, work with people in the town to cross off items on the list (and, in the meantime, spread the word about the library program), and then the teens come back with the evidence on their phones and cameras.

613 Teen Scavenger Hunt

First, the rules:

1. Someone from the team must be in the photo. In group photos, everyone has to be in the photo.

2. All team members must be aged 12-19 (2-4 team members per team)

3. All team members must start at the library together (hunt begins at 2:05 pm) and arrive at the library by 3:45 pm with their camera. For every minute you are late, 5 items are disqualified

4. All items must be visible in a photo

5. All team members must act respectfully at all times—this includes asking permission for taking anyone’s photo

6. Once arriving at the library, a team member must describe each photo to a library staff member.

7. All photos must be on the same camera, but multiple items can be in one photo Read More →

After hours and with the lights off, our library has hosted several popular Hunger Games Laser Tag programs.

But this ended last fall, after I turned on the lights after the program to find many handmade “hideouts,” constructed from chairs precariously stacked three high atop a table, and other chairs covered in dirt and leaves from our plants.

613 Hunger Games Training

In hopes of lessening the danger to our library, I began planning a Hunger Games Training program, focusing more on the creative and strategic planning sides of the Hunger Games series. I still incorporated some danger into the mix by designing arrows. But with the lights on and nowhere to hide, the library easily survived the program.

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This is Stacy Lienemann reporting for my first in a series of posts on teen programs. My library received $1,000 from a YALSA/Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant and in this series I will discuss the programs that the grant helped fund.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  613 Teen Breakfast of Books

Breakfast of Books was the kick-off program for our summer YA programs. I hoarded two months worth of new books (I did not include series sequels as I did not want to be murdered in the library’s YA section) and have spent the past three months (thanks to NetGalley and YA publishers) reading nonstop. Read More →