Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

netLAB: Raspberry Pis

Back in August of 2013, in my system we had to pitch ideas in order to get funding for the 2014 fiscal year. The library system had already been earmarked special programming money, and divided among three locations and with a huge amount already spoken for with various continuing projects, every penny is precious. Karen and I had already pitched and been granted Makerspaces in the previous year, and I had huge success with duct tape and craft mobile stations, and wanted to expand. This time around, I put together and was granted $2,000 to put together what has ended up being called netLAB. 

Similar to the mobile Makerspace, netLAB is my mobile coding and tech lab that will be able to expand to incorporate a variety of different faces. The first one I’ve put together is netLAB: Raspberry Pi. It’s a series of lessons using these awesome little hands-sized computers that look like this:

Trying to maximize my money, and knowing that I wanted to expand the tech classes beyond the Pis, I talked to our IT department about getting ahold of older monitors and outdated PC towers that no one was using. I lucked out and was able to get 7 towers plus 9 monitors without cost, so I’ll be able to grow later, and use the normal sized monitors with the Pis. With my money, I ordered:

  • 8 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits (which include not only the Pis and cases, but an 8GB SD Card, LED leads, WiFi dongle, and other fun bits and pieces)
  • 8 normal sized keyboards
  • 8 usb mice
  • 8 surge protectors
  • 8 7 port USB Ultra Hubs to expand how many things we can plug in at one time
  • 3 Tuffy rolling carts that look like this to move things around

While waiting for things to be ordered and to come it, it was time to research what I wanted to do and how to do the classes. First things first would be the Pis, and I knew that it couldn’t be open to all ages- there was no way I could teach some of the younger kids to plug in lights, and there’s no way they would sit for it. Also, being in a shared space, we had to work with what was already planned out- and I lucked out that I was able to take over the neighboring computer lab during the summer nights in order to teach the class. That Guy, my husband, is helping with teaching the class, and we came up with the lessons, and I broke them up into three different sections, and made them ages 10 & up. The final marketing looks like this:

And we’re looking forward to the adventure! After the end of the summer, plans are to evaluate how the classes went, and see whether we’ll just offer what we currently put together on a rotating basis, or expand the Pi sessions into a basic, medium, and advanced level. I also have huge plans for the towers that I scavenged from the IT department- think LAN gaming and computer coding….

If you’re looking for things to do with Pis, take a look at these:

Or for where to start:

What tech are you doing within your library? Are you using Pis or Ardinos? Teaching any classes to teens on tech? Share in the comments!