Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: The Robot Test Kitchen’s Reading List

The five of us in the Robot Test Kitchen all came to this project from different comfort levels with technology. Some of us couldn’t get enough of it, some of us were skilled at it, some of us were dragging our heels, and some of us were curious but trepidatious. Some of us were a little bit of it all. Now that our project year has ended, we don’t have the amazing instructors in the ILEAD program to guide us every few months, we’re looking for ways to keep on learning. Here are a few books on our reading list this winter:

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom By Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager
This guide is geared toward teachers, but that approach is really nice here, especially as an advocacy tool. It’s a great title for those librarians who ask themselves, “why robots? why STEM? why here?” because it looks at tinkering and making in the context of educational philosophy before getting into answering the “what” and “how” questions that will follow.

 

 

Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation by Dr. AnnMarie Thomas

Dr. Thomas is behind the super fun, super simple, super instructive Squishy Circuits concept. In her book, she interviews makers of all kinds to take a closer look at how childhood experiences can light a spark that can lead to creation and innovation. I love her playful approach to technology. It feels right and real to me.

 

 

 

Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators by Margaret Honey

Another one to add to your list, especially if you feel you might face resistance to the concept of integrating STEM programs, whether from others in the library, or within yourself. Treating each activity: designing, making, and playing, as different pathways into learning is a really interesting concept, and certainly something that we at the Robot Test Kitchen have seen play out in our programs.

 

 

Zero to Maker: Learn (just enough) to make (just about) anything by David Lang

If you’re on board and ready to start making stuff, this is the book for you. Lang walks you through his process of embracing the maker movement and learning that it’s “really not about DIY or do it yourself, this whole thing is about DIT or do it together.” What a great concept, right? What a library friendly concept!

 

 

 

The Maker Cookbook: Recipes for Children’s and Tweens Library Programming by Cindy R. Wall and Lynn M. Pawloski 

Written by librarians for librarians, this is a great grab-and-go programming resource. And while the title says Children and Tweens, I’m pretty confident that the fun factor of a lot of the programs will bring them up to the teen level, or could be expanded upon in a way that would make them appealing to your teens.

We’re Not Faking it, We’re Making It: from the Robot Test Kitchen

One of the features on the Robot Test Kitchen is a True Confessions series. In it, we discuss our personal experiences in this brave new world of integrating technology programming into our libraries. Sometimes it’s triumphant, sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The point of our True Confessions is to illustrate that no matter where you are with your technology skills and programming, you can move forward and you are doing it. In today’s RTK post, Jacquie shares her perspectives on a recent experience with both webinars and littleBits.

Working with my Robot Test Kitchen colleagues during ILEADUSA was a fantastic experience, and now that we’re continuing with this project I appreciate the value of this collaboration even more. When we’re given opportunities, chances are at least one of us can say yes. A couple of weeks ago Brian Pichman with the Evolve Project asked if any of us would be panelists during a webinar about Library Makerspaces, specifically talking about LittleBits in libraries. Due to busy schedules, I ended up being the one who was available.

As the webinar began, I experienced a moment of self doubt (which is unusual for me, but I know I’m not the only one to go through this) as I read the comments from the participants. So many of them have thriving Makerspaces, and are already using LittleBits in innovative ways that I thought, “Who am I to be a panelist and impart any knowledge to them?” I was already in and I accepted that plowing forward was the only option, so I gave myself a brief pep talk and carried on. I did talk about my experiences with LittleBits thus far, as well as plans for in-house use and circulation of kits.

Here are just some of the things I learned and ideas I gleaned:

  • The other panelist, Jessica Lamarre, shared the fantastic idea to use small pictures of the LittleBits components to make sure they get put back correctly, whether they’re housed in the original packaging or in a plastic tackle-box type container.
  • I learned that there is a LittleBits Synth Kit, which I think will be a great fit in my library for next summer’s Read to the Rhythm summer reading program.
  • There is an Arduino component so you can use Scratch extensions, there is a LEGO brick adapter, and they’ve even been used to power 3D printed cars. Is there anything LittleBits don’t play nicely with?

In the end, I’m glad I had this experience. I may not be an expert, but I have a lot to share. I’m not new to this either, but I still enjoy learning, sharing, and being inspired by the ideas of others. It was worth it to step out of my comfort zone, sit in front of a webcam, and share what I know because this is all so very important.

Whatever we’re working on, our ultimate goal is enrich lives and build communities. At the same time, if you’re reading this you’re part of a community. Whatever fantastic things get made or invented in our schools and libraries, however many kids are inspired to pursue new interests, we are part of it. Just as we’re giving people in our communities a chance to create and connect, we need to keep on connecting with each other. We’re not just making the makerspaces so the makers can come make, we are the makers too. So let’s embrace that maker spirit and realize that each of has a unique perspective and something to share. Your experiences and even the questions you ask can spark an idea for someone else.

Jacquie @infojacquie