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.

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When we think of teens today, we imagine a young adult glued to their cell phone, speaking in a foreign text speech slang, and Facebooking people halfway around the world. But for me, the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind.

Our teens can certainly text, take a selfie, and play their favorite games online; but when I suggest they copy & paste a Google image, find an app for that, or read a book online, I get the most incredulous looks I’ve seen since high-school drama club. Statistics say that 40% of households in Lafourche Parish have no access to wi-fi. That students might get a maximum of 30 minutes in a computer class at school a week. I’m not the only one guilty of forgetting this and assuming every teen has a Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram account. They are considered the agents of technical suave. The reality, of course, is that for many of our teens, the library is their only digital touchstone. These teens might be Generation Y, but Y2K happened when they were infants. When I try to get them to read a popular book series or do a craft program, I get mixed results.

So I told them they would be building a website and doing photo/video editing for Teen Tech Week this year.

Oh my. Christmas has come early! Along with every other gift-giving celebration for many years to come.

“We can really do this? In the library?”


“For  free?”


“And we can actually do the stuff? Not just sit and listen to you?”

“Well I’m not going to make it for you.’

Shock! Awe! Horror (that they didn’t know about this sooner, why oh why didn’t they sign up for a news alert?) Can they really believe that I will allow, nay insist, that they touch the computers? Well, yes. As well as the tablet, video camera, and printer. I was quite serious about not doing the work for them.  A digital storytelling platform made by teens for teens. And that description hasn’t fit me for a while.

They have no idea that I might be more excited about this project than they are.

Kristen Angelette works with teens at the Lockport Public Library, part of the Lafourche Parish Public Library System in Lockport Louisiana.


The Haskett and Ponderosa Joint-Use Library, in Anaheim, California, are excited to launch the Teen Tech Week festivities!  Throughout the week, youth are encouraged to visit the library and partake in both passive and interactive programs. Teens will have the opportunity to learn how to convert everyday items such as fruits, vegetables, and kitchen utensils into a functional piano, keyboard, or other musical instruments using a Makey Makey. The Makey Makey’s have arrived and are currently being tested.

Students from the Fullerton College Robotics Team will also be visiting the library and leading a hands-on demonstration, exploring basic robotic mechanics.  Our hope is for the youth of Anaheim to have the opportunity to explore, create and innovate.

Our library staff members have been promoting upcoming Teen Tech Week activities at the local schools and after-school centers.  The library also has a TeenSpace Center and all youth are encouraged to attend scheduled programs. Also, the library has a large number of teen volunteers and all are invited to join us for the planned activities.

The library is also hosting a Tech Week “Technology Art Contest”. The contest is open to youth, ages 13-18, who are invited to create and submit an original drawing of their idea, meaning or interpretation of Technology. We want youth to have fun and be creative.

Wishing everyone a successful Teen Tech Week, hope all of your activities are well attended but most importantly we can make a difference in the life of the youth we serve.

This post is authored by Guadalupe Gomez, Branch Manager of the Haskett and Ponderosa Joint-Use Library. Gomez has been in the library field for over 15 years and continues to search for programming activities supporting youth in the Anaheim community.

Gilroy Library was fortunate enough to receive a YALSA & Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant.  This wonderful news has meant that I have the means to realize a fully-fledged TTW program for my library.

The dilemma with planning for TTW this year was not about what ‘could’ we do, but what couldn’t we!  With so many great activities to choose from it was hard to narrow down what we could feasibly offer to our teens for our TTW programming.

Working with this year’s theme ‘Create it at your library’ I decided to mix things up a little. I wanted to provide a variety of activities that focus on different skill sets.  After a lot of deliberation (and online shopping!), I was able to experience the joy of opening delivery boxes full of creative goodness.

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As a Teen Services Coordinator in rural Oregon, I know that my teens face a unique set of challenges. Our town, The Dalles, is a small one, with a population of 15,000. And like many small towns with limited resources, our students are struggling. 65% of our middle schoolers and 45% of our high schoolers are eligible for free lunch. In 2014, 36% of our high school students did not graduate on time – one of the worst graduation rates in the entire state of Oregon. So my goal going when applying for YALSA’s Teen Tech Week Grant was simple: I wanted to create exciting, engaging programs that would get our teens thinking about their futures.

Teen Tech Week @ The Dalles-Wasco County Library

Tinker Tuesday

Tinker Tuesday

Image by Derek Wiley

For Tinker Tuesday, we’ll be partnering with The Dalles High School’s competitive robotics team, The Bazinga Bots. The team will talk about what it’s like to build robots, participate in competitions, and discuss potential career opportunities. Afterwards, the teens will be able to “test drive” the competition robots, as well as build simple robots of their own.


Wired-In Wednesday

Wired in Wednesday

Image by M.A. Hoak

For Wired-In Wednesday, we’ll be partnering with Hage Electric: a local company. They’ll be speaking with the teens about what it’s like to work as an electrician and what certifications they would need to pursue a career in the electrical field. Afterwards, the teens will be able to create “make and take” neon light signs for their rooms with electroluminescent wire.


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Explore. Create. Compete. is our goal for Teen Tech Week. We will celebrate with a variety of activities – there’s something for everyone!

Recognizing the need for teens to be able to explore new technologies and tools is a vital part of the Arlington Public Library’s philosophy when serving teens. Youth Technology Centers (YTC) in two branch locations are working with under-served populations.  We currently offer programs and opportunities for teens to explore technology in a welcoming environment.

This year, the Library is hosting our very first Maker Competition that will bring together teams of teens that will work to complete challenges using various maker materials, such as Makey Makey, Lego Mindstorm, and Littlebits kits; art and crafting supplies; coding instructions; and digital media arts such as short film and music.  Teens will have to problem solve and think outside the box in order to complete and create projects given the materials and a set of challenges around a theme. What they make and how they make it will be completely up to them. Entries will be judged by a panel and awards will be given for most creative, most marketable, and best use of technology.  Judges will either have experience, expertise or careers related to STEAM.

The goal of the maker competition is to allow teens to develop team work and leadership skills and to engage their creativity.  As an added benefit, they may be exposed to new career paths, hobbies and skills they didn’t realize existed! Mastering the challenges will give teens a sense of confidence, independence, and faith in the concept that STEAM activities can parlay into a marketable skill or career.

In the months leading up to Teen Tech Week, the YTCs will provide opportunities for teens to explore the various maker ‘tracks’ and allow time for teams to ‘train’ for the competition. We will reach out to neighboring schools that may have maker clubs or to recruit students that are new library/YTC users.

Stacy Garcia is the Library Service Manager for the Arlington Public Library (Arlington, TX.).


The Paris-Bourbon County Library was honored and delighted to be selected as a grantee by YALSA for Teen Tech Week.  As the Teen Services Librarian, I am using the funds furnished by Best Buy to purchase technology for a collaborative project more than a year in the making.

Teen Advisory Board members work on an art project using Bare Paint and Makey Makey.

Paris is a small, rural community in Kentucky, but we are fortunate enough to have repository for local art and history in the Hopewell Museum.  The Hopewell and its director Leah Craig have been close library partners for a while now, but we wanted to particularly focus on creating a long-term collaborative program that benefited the community’s teens.  About a year ago, we began to discuss an idea for a monthly camp focused on combining graphic art, Scratch’s programming software, and maker technology to create interactive artwork.

My goal with this project was, and continues to be, to inspire creativity and critical thinking in middle and high school students by asking them to produce an interactive work of art.  To that end, we used the funds provided by YALSA and Best Buy to purchase Makey Makey devices from JoyLabz, as well as a couple dozen Bare Paint’s conductive paint pens (which are totally awesome, by the way). My plan for this project, now dubbed Create It! Camp, is to encourage students to experiment with Scratch and Makey Makey, creating a program that interacts with an original piece of art created with conductive materials.  The Hopewell Museum will host Create It! Camp and will also cover transportation costs with a generous scholarship provided by our local Rotary Club.

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For 2016 Teen Tech Week the Spring Valley Branch will be offering a daily afterschool project for pre-teens. Inspiration came to us from our previous experience with conducting MAKER Camp activities during summer.  We allocated our grant funds for the purchase of various MAKER kits to supplement our current educational resources.

Each project will have a hands-on activity and a 21st century digital skills component. Pre-teens will have time for self-discovery and will also practice digital literacy competencies needed to participate and collaborate. They will post their observations through an online journal. The concepts to be explored will include music, gaming, mini-robotics, alternative energy, 3D printing, and binary time.

The first project will consist of using a Musixel kit to learn about frequency and volume in music. Every day after school pre-teens visit the library to use the Wi-Fi and public computers to browse social media sites. Incorporating music to the activities just seemed like a natural course of action. This will also be an opportunity to recruit our student workers to lead the project.

The second project will involve the use of Makey Makey kits and snap circuit kits to learn about conductivity, circuits, and the basics of gaming. Library laptops and iPads will be made available to connect the Makey Makey kits to allow for play and exploration. To enhance the experience participants will try their hands at mini robotics by creating their own BrushBot. The daily activity will culminate with a BrushBot race. Student volunteers will be recruited to monitor each station.

The third project will touch on the basics of alternative energy sources. Each group will use kits to build a working wind turbine or a solar powered marble machine. An invitation will be extended to college faculty from the engineering department to be a guest speaker for this project.

The fourth project will give pre-teens the chance to experience using handheld 3D printing pens. Each group will have 15 minutes to develop an idea and 15-30 minutes to materialize their concept. The last project will delve into expressing time in binary format. Pre-teens will work in groups to complete an RGB Bamboo Binary Clock Kit.

The success of each project will be measured by feedback shared on the online journal and participation statistics. Additionally, we will provide participants with a survey so we can receive feedback that will guide future programming.

The Spring Valley Branch is part of the San Diego County Library system and is located in the Southeast region. The Spring Valley Branch serves a diverse low-income population and act as a safe space for kids and teens after school. We are also one of the branches with the highest afterschool programming offered within our system. Ariadna Jimenez-Barrios is the Youth Services Librarian for the Spring Valley Branch


The Altoona Area Public Library is excited to be a part of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week! In celebration, we’ll be focusing on alternative fuels and greener energy as we build hydrogen fuel cell cars. Our goal is to reach out to an under-served tween and teen population within our community, by providing educational, and fun, activities that will continue throughout the rest of the year. We are going into the schools with promotional material to help advertise for the weeklong events and other programming for our local teens.

During the week the teens, and ultimately the librarians as well, will be learning about alternative energy sources and how we can use them one day in other applications in our lives. While the cars we will be making run on hydrogen cell based fuel, our plan is to open up conversation about all types of energy. One of the planned meeting sessions will involve actually building the cars, from kits purchased from Educational Innovations, where teens will work in groups to learn together. On the final meeting session, we will be filming the cars in motion and posting the videos to our website and our Facebook page. We will be using our Creation Lab for many of the elements of this project, furthering the use of technology. It is our aim that this will add some excitement to new programs going on at the library within the teen department, especially with Summer Reading fast approaching.

Our plan is to also set up displays throughout the library about alternative and green energies. By doing so, all of our patrons, not just the teens, will be engaged in what is going on during Teen Tech Week. We want to inspire the patrons of our library, no matter their age, to consider the impact that alternative and green energy sources have on our future and what steps we can take now to ensure it’s a good one.

We’re looking forward to seeing other activities that participating libraries will be doing and getting our teens involved in even more library programming. Our teens have expressed a strong interest in technology based programs, so this will be the perfect segue into future plans with an engaged group that we hope will only continue to grow.

Elin Woods is a very new teen services librarian, two weeks and counting, but is excited to start a new path within the world of libraries. She acquired her MLS from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in August ’15, after a long stint in event planning, and has experience working in both academic and public libraries. In her spare time she loves baking, being out in nature, and reading depressing British classics.

Greetings from the Louisville (Ohio) Public Library!  We were thrilled to receive a Teen Tech Week Grant from YALSA and Best Buy for 2016.  This grant will move us towards our goal of introducing local teens to the engineering and computing required to build robots.

One of the goals for the library is outreach, primarily to teens.  One way we’ve pursued that is through a partnership with the Louisville City Schools.  We’re the perfect partner to help them launch their push for STEM curricula.  As a part of this collaboration with the schools, for the Teen Tech Week Grant 2016 we focused on robots.  We bought more littleBits to add to our collection (because you can NEVER have enough littleBits!), a Robots Shield Kit for use with our Arduinos, Cubelets (which we can combine with the Cubelets our Children’s Department already owns), Sphero 2.0 (a mate for the one in the Children’s Department), LEGO Mindstorms EV3, and four solar robot kits.  The point was to make our current tech spread further, last longer, serve more patrons and do more and cooler stuff.

Our thinking was that because kids dig robots (and who doesn’t?), they would serve as a gateway technology.  It’s true—we’re out to get them hooked on STEM.  We could start them with simple kits and remote controls, and work up to more complex mechanical and electrical engineering and programming.  One of the long-term goals we’re working on with the schools is a competitive robotics team 5-6 years down the road, so we started with the middle schoolers.  If we can foster an interest in robotics, the school can work up the infrastructure to support a team, starting with after-school activities at the library and developing a school-sponsored club to meet at LPL, then developing sponsors to support a competitive team.  Besides the tools and equipment—including a CnC machine and laser engraver, plus impressive computing power— in Louisville Public Library’s makerspace, called the Library Lab, our city boasts plenty of local businesses with the engineering knowledge and equipment to really help our teens form a competitive team.

To kick off Teen Tech Week events, last week, one of the Adult & Teen Services staffers, Michael, took some of our makerspace tech (a 3D printer) and Teen Tech Week robots (littleBits and Sphero 2.0) to the middle school and high school.  Over the course of each day, Michael met 300 teachers and school kids, all of whom were dazzled by our tech!  We got a flood of congratulations and inquiries after his visits, and now similar visits to both elementary schools are planned, in conjunction with LPL’s Children’s Department.  The whole town (pop 10,000) is buzzing about the library—our makerspace, the Library Lab, our tech, and our programs.

The Teen Tech Week robot invasion of Louisville, Ohio has begun!  But rather than the robots taking over town, we hope that the teens take over the robots!

Deborah Long is the brand-new manager of the Adult & Teen Services department at the Louisville (Ohio) Public Library.  She inherited the Teen Tech Week Grant for 2016 from her predecessor, but cares for it as if it were her own.