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.

Free Image Hosting at Teens on Eye4You, the virtual island in Teen Second Life, wanted information about colleges-filling out applications, acquiring financial aid, etc. This weekend, October 20-21, colleges from all over the world will interact with teens to provide information about careers and their college. If your teens sign up for a free account at and teleport to the island, they can enjoy the fair as well. Speakers include representatives from NASA, Linden Lab,, Squirrelverse publishing and several other colleges.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Free Image Hosting at So is it really true that the astronauts were trying to finish all the biscuits before they had to exit the shuttle? Who knows. It’s one theory that was discussed on Eye4You Alliance island in teen second life in the space station amongst the teens that gathered to watch the Endeavor landing.

This photo shows a few avatars (there were about 25) that were watching the streaming NASA television channel and the view that they saw. These teens are from all over the world. They built the space station. The screen is taller than their avatar. They created a story together while watching this historic moment-wondering if they were really aliens instead of astronauts, referencing other spacecraft such as Apollo I, sharing in a part of history in a way that commenting via a blog or MySpace just isn’t the same.

Here’s part of the transcript.

Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen2: i can see the runway
Teen3: One minute.

Teen1: almost
Teen1: come ooooon
Teen4: its landing on tv!
Teen4: brb
Teen5: this is cool
Teen1: it already landed
Teen6: we have touch down
Teen7: yay!!!
Teen7: Wahoo !

Teen7: Lol
Teen1: yay!
Teen8: that was cool
Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen2: yay touch down
Teen2: 🙂
Teen3: WOOT!
Teen1: that’s so freaking awesome
Teen1: yoy

Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen3: YAY!!!
Teen2: yay
Teen5: what speed is it traveling at now?
Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen5: cool.
Teen3: WOOTNESS!!!!

Teen2: Yay!
Teen1: dude that thing was in space
Teen1: that’s awesome
Teen1: and what are those noises?
Teen10: w00t!
Teen4: well of course it was in space
Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
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Posted by Kelly Czarnecki