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.


This march during Teen Tech Week, students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District will have the opportunity to touch the future by learning coding and computer programming skills.

TTW 2016 NPPL2Thanks to a grant provided by YALSA and Best Buy, students in our district will be given access to robots that they can use to learn coding skills and complete challenges.  We will also provide students with access to the Never Alone game, which is a computer game where students can learn about the mythology of the Inupiat culture. This cultural connection may encourage our Alaska Native students to pursue a computer sciences degree so they can create games that highlight aspects of their culture. This will provide an opportunity to reach out to the underserved Alaska Native community present in our schools.

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I am very excited to bring gaming into my school library during Teen Tech Week, sponsored by YALSA.  With a grant by Best Buy, I am able to purchase Bloxels video game creators, Breakout Edu games, and Versa Tiles.  Each resource will bring gaming to my library at a different level.  Since students of all grade levels and academic abilities will participate in the Bay Shore Middle School Teen Tech Week program, these resources will allow me to customize unique experiences for them.  These gaming resources can also be used to create curriculum-based activities and assessments, as well as professional development experiences.  Through games students learn how to think critically, collaborate, strategize, and develop problem-solving skills.


VersaTiles are hands-on manipulatives that students can use independently or in groups.  Through a series of 12 questions, students determine the correct answers and then place the tiles in the appropriate spaces.  If the students are correct, a hidden picture pattern is revealed.  I plan to create a series of questions about book awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Pura Belpre Award, Geisel Award, and the Printz Award) to familiarize my students with.  They will use all of the print and nonprint resources in the library including reference materials, circulated books, the OPAC, and the Virtual Reference Collection).   To learn more about VersaTiles visit:

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An important goal of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library is to reach teens with visual impairments across the state of Washington. Due to a generous Teen Tech Week grant from YALSA and Best Buy, I hope to accomplish this goal by creating a successful adaptive gaming lab for teens with visual impairments.

WTBBL Youth Services Librarian Marian Mays outside the library

Individuals with visual impairments commonly face significant social, economic, and educational barriers. One of these barriers includes the lack of affordable gaming opportunities with adaptive technology for the visually impaired. Games adapted for the visually impaired are slim and often present a financial hardship to teens, families, and educational institutions. Gaming is extremely important since play fosters crucial social, emotional, and cognitive skills in individuals of all ages.

Adaptive gaming can provide visually impaired teens with a greater sense of independence and ownership in the gaming process and their personal lives. With successful adaptations, visually impaired teens can facilitate teen led gaming opportunities of their own. Gaming and play also fosters joy and new relationships between teens. Allowing our teen patrons to be connected is crucial to our mission since many visually impaired teens experience feelings of isolation from their peers. We hope that this gaming lab will also give us the opportunity to inform teens new to the library about our broader services.

Our gaming lab will include a wide variety of games for every type of gamer. Braille board games, braille card games, tactile games and puzzles, Legos with baseplates for added stability, handheld audio games, and audio games for Windows and Mac are just some examples of what our gaming lab will have to offer. Teens will have the opportunity to play these games and provide feedback on their accessibility.

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Still looking for programming for Teen Tech Week? Check out the Twist Fate Competition, an art and writing competition for 13 to 17 year olds . This is a great match for the Create It At Your Library Teen Tech Week theme. The challenge will run from March 6 through April 6 and is hosted by DeviantArt, the world’s largest community for visual art, and by Wattpad, the world’s largest community of readers and writers.

“The Twist Fate challenge provides libraries and classrooms across the globe an opportunity to link connected learning, creativity and technology and gives students a chance to improve their skills and get to know supportive, social communities that can help connect them as mentors, fellow artists, and friends,” YALSA President Candice Mack said.

Youth are invited to submit entries on the website of either DeviantArt or Wattpad. The best stories, comic panels, illustrations or other creations will be chosen as finalists that will be reviewed by a panel of editors who will decide which ones to publish in a book. And, the book will be made available to the public in libraries across the country.

The editors are: writers Sara Ryan (author of “Bad Houses,” “The Rules for Hearts” and “Empress of the World”) and Lauren Kate  (author of “Fallen,” Torment,” “Passion,” “Rapture,” “Fallen in Love” and “The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove”), Walt Disney Animation Studios story artist Brian Kesinger and Antero Garcia, assistant professor of English at Colorado State University.

Twist Fate is being sponsored by the Connected Learning Alliance (CLA), National Writing Project (NWP) and Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). has a series of videos giving more details on the challenge.

“Wattpad and DeviantArt are home to some of the most active and inspiring creative youth communities on the net. They offer a rich and motivating context for young people to connect, learn, and get feedback from others who share their interests and passions,” said Mimi Ito, co-founder of the Connected Learning Alliance and UC Irvine cultural anthropologist who specializes in learning. “This challenge is an opportunity for more educators and youth to tap into this creative energy and experience how social online platforms can fuel learning and engagement in the arts.”

Encourage youth at your library to participate!

For more information, visit or