Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Ollie Robot Challenges for Teens by Michelle Biwer

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At my library we have a few Ollie robots and the SpheroEdu app which controls the robots installed on our programming iPads. I purchased the Ollie robots for a few reasons:

  • Special tires so robots can also be used for fun, outdoor programming
  • Move up to 14 mph, much more impressive to most teens these days than something with a lot of functionality but slow like Lego Mindstorms
  • Can be driven easily with an app or can be programmed with text and block based coding (fun and educational!)
  • Access to a large collection of educator activity plans and coding, which can be easily edited to suit your needs

ollieAt the beginning of my last teen robotics event, I used a “Get to Know Ollie” program from Sphero’s database. This code programs Ollie to narrate all its functionality, from user control over lights to the accelerometer and sensors. Playing this demo code gave the teens an idea of what they would be able to control when programming their robots, and introduced them to the block based code system used by the SpheroEdu app.

I asked the teens whether they had experience with Scratch or any kind of block based coding. They were all familiar with Scratch so I skipped going over the basics of writing your own code. I assigned them their first robot challenge, to program the Ollies to move in the shape of their choice. I handed over the iPads with a basic code for movement preloaded so that they would only have to edit the code and not start from the beginning. I was delighted to see that not only did they successfully manage to make the Ollies move in their preferred shape, but they also programmed their robots to change color and say hilarious shaped-based jokes.

For their next activity I asked the teens to program Ollie to dance to their favorite song by changing the robot’s color and moving it to the music. I showed them this awesome Imperial March dance code as an example of what they could program. They really enjoyed this challenge and were most proud of finishing this activity. Since only middle schoolers attended the program they made sure to grab their parents before they left the library to show off their robot dance!

Teen made Ollie dance to Shooting Star!

Completing these two activities ended up taking us an hour to complete, so we ran out of time for the last activity. I was going to ask the teens to create an obstacle course for their robots to race. Instead I have scheduled that as a separate challenge for another day.

– Michelle Biwer

Book Review: Secrets and Sequences: Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes, a guest post by Callum (age 10)

If you follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething), then you’re familiar with my extremely entertaining 10-year-old son, Callum. He’s a big fan of graphic novels and recently has started pulling books out of my TBR pile. It’s fun to get book mail and have so much of it either appeal now to him or know it will soon. He’s excited to write his second review post for TLT (you can read his first one here). I suspect we’ll see more from him in the future. He’s already been on the cover of a magazine and on an episode of The Longest Shortest Time (episode 50, “Mom, It’s Time We Had The Talk”). He loves when people react to stuff I tweet about him. He says it all adds to his “fame.” Have I mentioned he’s super entertaining and loves attention? Anyway, here’s his review.

 

Publisher’s description

secrets-andStately Academy is no ordinary school: it was once home to an elite institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper, Eni, and Josh won’t rest until they’ve learned the whole story, but they aren’t the only ones interested in the school’s past. Principal Dean is hot on their trail, demanding that the coders turn over their most powerful robot. Dean may be a creep, but he’s nothing compared to the guy who’s really in charge: a green-skinned coding genius named Professor One-Zero.

 

 

 

 

Callum’s thoughts

This story is about three kids and an evil principal. They’re coders. One kid in class says, keep an eye on your mom to one of the coders. Their mom is a teacher at their school. Later, the principal kidnaps her. They say, you can have your mom if you give me this turtle-ship-thing. Change of plan! The turtle has a screen and the kids need to drive it for the principal. The daughter of the teacher says it will be okay and they’ll go get help.

 

So they drive to this huge castle and there’s a crazy green-faced man named Doctor One-Zero. They go see him and he pretty much puts the kids in a cell and makes the principal drink this stuff that makes him see green. He explains all this code to the kids and the girl’s visualizing it. Then there’s a flashback to when he was younger and he never asked for help or needed help and became evil and went to jail. He escaped and went all over the world trying to see where he fit in. He was on top of a mountain in a green moss cave, meditating and eating nothing but moss. He came out changed with a new name—Doctor One-Zero. They think of a way to get out of the cage. They’re going to go get the ship but One-Zero is flying it away. They’re figuring out how to get out of there. They take a bus back to the city and parents were worried. Back at school, there’s people practicing fighting. They are going to make an army of turtle-things to attack Doctor One-Zero.

 

The art was good and so was the story. Both boys and girls were main characters. One of the main characters is black. It ends on a cliffhanger, so there will be more in the series.

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626720770

Publisher: First Second

Publication date: 03/07/2017

Series: Secret Coders Series #3

#MakerSpace: 1 Year Later

We have spent the last year at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) turning our Teen Space into a Teen MakerSpace. Today on School Library Journal I’m sharing with you 11 things we have learned 1 year later.

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The Beginning of Our Journey

Here is the original article in School Library Journal, which includes some of the decisions we made and why, our project timelines and more.

The Middle

Here is a look at many of the activities we have done in our Teen MakerSpace, including outreach. Some of the challenges we have faced, including printing. You can also click on the MakerSpace tag below to find more MakerSpace posts.

1 Year Later

What I’ve learned, what we’ve changed, and more.

 

TPIB: Photo Shrink Jewelry Charms

shrinkydinks4Although we have some permanent stations set up in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we also occasionally rotate in some different stations to make sure our teens have a variety of activities to engage in. One of our permanent stations includes a bank of iPads which we encourage the teens to do many things with, including create digital media and do photo manipulation. If you have read many posts here at TLT, you know that I am quite obsessed with photo apps and photo manipulation and creation. It is one of my favorite things to do (my phone currently has 14,000 pictures on it and that is not hyperbole). And I then like to find creative things to do with those photos: like turn them into shrink plastic jewelry.

If you are thinking Shrinky Dinks – well, you are right, kind of. Shrinky Dinks are a brand name, there are other types of shrink plastic. And there is shrink plastic that you can put right into your printer, which is my kind of shrink plastic. So this summer, we made photo shrink plastic jewelry with our teens. Today I’m going to tell you how.

Supplies

shrinkydins

  • 2.25 circle punch. I use this one, but you can also just shape fill a 2.25 circle on your computer’s graphics program and a pair of scissors. I like the circle punch because it is a clean circle and it is quick.
  • Standard single hole punch (1/4 inch)
  • Photo printer shrink plastic, as pictured above. There are a few brand options, just make sure it says photo or printer friendly.
  • Some type of technology and a printer
  • A heat source: I recommend a toaster oven
  • A brown grocery bag or lunch sack
  • A metal tray (this usually comes with your toaster oven)
  • Oven mitts
  • A hot pad or trivet
  • Jewelry making findings and tools

Step 1: Creating your images

Before your can print and shrink your images, you need to create your images. For example, you can use Instagram images. Or use any variety of apps to create the images you would like to create(see below for a list of my favorites). When creating or choosing an already existing image, you want to make sure of two things:

1) That they will fit into the 2.25 inches size nicely and

2) That putting a hole in the top or on the sides – more about this in a moment – won’t obscure the important parts of the image. For example, if you are doing a photo with people you’ll want to make sure that you won’t be cutting off their heads when you put a hole in the top.

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For my example bracelet, The Mr. had created a series of Doctor Who inspired silhouette drawings to decorate The Teens room. I took pictures of those pieces of art and used a variety of apps to add backgrounds, text, etc. I then uploaded the images to my laptop so that I could print them.

Step 2: Printing your images

You’ll want to follow all printing instructions on your shrink plastic. For example, you will want to reduce the color intensity because the colors gets darker when the images shrink.

shrinkydinks8

For making jewelry charms, after much experimentation, we have found that 2.25 inches is a good size to begin with pre-shrink. In addition, a standard hole punch at the top shrinks down to a good size for a top loop and threading onto some type of jewelry finding. You can alternately put a hole on the left and right side using your hole punch to make a fitted charm bracelet where you loop thread or o rings through both sides of the charm.

After you print your image you’ll want to make sure not to touch the image so that the ink doesn’t smear or smudge.

Step 3: Shrinking your images

Again, you’ll want to follow all the package instructions for using the shrink plastic. Typically you set your toaster oven to 325 degrees. You’ll want to place your images on a piece of brown paper bag that fits inside your toaster oven; this just makes it easier to remove for cooling. The paper goes on the metal tray which you put in the oven (though it also works if you lose the metal tray which I’m not saying I did but the image below proves). When you take the metal tray out you can remove the paper and set it on a heat safe surface to cool. We used a left over piece of ceramic tile, but any type of hot pad or trivet will do.

shrinkydinks6

The shrinking happens pretty quickly so you need to stay right there and watch your items in the oven. They will briefly curl up and it will scare you because you think, “Oh no, they’re going to fold in on themselves.” And yet somehow they don’t. When they are flat again, wait like 2 beats more and then remove the tray to cool.

We have done this in the library with teens and you want to make sure you have an adult supervising the toaster oven at all times. The items get hot and letting them cool down is essential.

Step 4: Turning your images into jewelry – or something

In the most basic sense, you can thread a single charm onto a basic hemp cord and you have a necklace. You can also string beads between several charms and create a necklace or bracelet. I happen to be lucky and my Assistant Director does chain mail as a hobby and this is a fantastic way to make a charm bracelet. Here are a couple of our creations to give you some ideas.

shrinkydinks3  shrinkydinks

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Don’t want to make jewelry? Don’t put any holes in your plastic, shrink like normal, slap a magnet on the back and you have one of a kind magnets.

There’s a Book for That

And because we try to have a book for every activity we do or station we create in our Teen MakerSpace, we were very excited to find this book:

shrinkshrankshrunk

A Couple of Notes

We experimented with other shapes, but found that circles worked best and didn’t have any rough edges that could poke.

You can technically do this with traditional shrink plastic and hand drawn images as well. For example, we found that our teens loved to make their initials or names.

Some of Karen’s Favorite Photo Apps

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

App Review: Prisma

App Review: Aviary

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Image Chef

Tech Talk: App Review – BeFunky

Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

Meme the Apps

More Photo Crafts

Instagram crafts

10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas part 1 and part 2

Share it! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

MakerSpace: Challenge Cards, getting teens to try new activities in the Teen MakerSpace

challengecards We are having tremendous success with our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) and are very excited to see the teens in our community using the space and learning new things. We have learned that certain items are more popular than others, with the button makers and 3D pens being hands down everyone’s favorites.

We have also seen that some of the elements are a little less self-directed then we imagined them to be. Sometimes, our teens want prompts to help get them started. And after a little bit of searching I learned about “Challenge Cards”. Challenge cards are a great way to help get teens engaging with some of our Teen MakerSpace elements. They basically work like a writing prompt, giving just that little push needed to get the creative juices flowing.

We currently have Challenge Cards for our stop motion animation station, the LittleBits, and Legos. Some of the Challenge Cards we found online, others we created ourselves. Our Lego Challenge Cards are a combination of those we found online and those we created with the help of teens sitting in the Teen MakerSpace.

In the future, we hope to develop (or find) some coding challenge cards. And because our iPad bank is perfect for learning photo manipulation and meme creation, I think we will also be developing some Photo Challenge Cards.

We laminated our cards and created signage, making them available right next to the station so teens can grab a card and go. We have found that it has prompted some of our teens to try new activities in the space and recommend them.

Here are links to some of the various Challenge Card examples we have found to date or created for ourselves. If you know of others you would like to share, please add them in the comments.

MakerSpace: Stop Motion Animation 101

Later today I am presenting a webinar on Stop Motion Animation for Florida Library Webinars. Here are my slides. I have been doing stop motion animation with my teens for about 3 or 4 years now (and at two different library jobs). It has proven so popular that we included a stop motion animation station in the Teen MakerSpace that we created at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (Ohio). I use a couple of movies created by our teens there as examples in this presentation. I am in awe of how creatively they think.

Some additional notes:

1. If you use an iPad or a smart phone, you’ll want a stabilizing agent as well. You can buy a tripod. For an iPad, you can use a wire book holder that you use for display.

2. We upload our videos/movies to a YouTube account. This makes it easy for us to share them and for the teens to find them so they can share them with their friends/family.

3. You can download the Stop Motion Animation challenge cards here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/313555018/Stop-Motion-Challenge-Cards

4. There are 16 Storyboard Templates to Download for Free here: http://www.sampletemplates.com/business-templates/free-storyboard-templates.html

5. The Scribd slideshow can show up kind of wonky depending on your screen dimensions. You can view and download it here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/313555719/Stop-Motion-Animation-101-Webinar

Mistakes Were Made: What I Learned About Installing an iPad Lab in a MakerSpace

This is the tale of a clever teen, a librarian, and the great iPad lock out of 2016. You see, I went to check on the status of our new iPads in the Teen MakerSpace when I realized that one of my teens had been more clever than I could have imagined. I couldn’t even open up the iPad because they had changed the lockscreen passcode. I, and everyone else, were effectively locked out of this iPad. I was both impressed and annoyed with this teen’s cleverness.

Luckily, I had previously forgotten the passcode so I knew that there was a fix for this, though I wouldn’t say it is a quick and easy fix. I had to connect the iPad to a laptop and restore it to its original settings and then set everything up again; this is where I learned that I had incorrectly set up the iPads and they weren’t all attached to the same iCloud account. So I ended up having to restore not one, not two, not three, but four iPads to their in-box settings and set them all up again.

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So I thought I would share with you some of what I have learned about setting up public iPads in my Teen MakerSpace. And if you have any wisdom or experience to share, please do so in the comments. This is new territory for me and mistakes have been made.

1. Set up a “dummy” account in Gmail (or some other email server) to connect all your iPads to

Do this first so you aren’t scrambling to get all these accounts in order as you are setting up. You’ll want to make sure all your iPads are connected to one account. I recommend keeping a document with all account addresses, passwords and passcodes in one place. We keep ours in the MakerSpace Manual.

makerspacemanual2. Set up an Apple ID

In order to buy apps or to use the Cloud, you’ll need an Apple ID. You’ll want to set this up first and make sure that all of your iPads are connected to it as well. This way, if you buy an app, you have purchased it for all your connected devices. You can have up to 10 devices connected to one Apple ID I believe.

3. Setting up restrictions

Under settings you can go in and put restrictions on your iPads. Be sure to write down your Restrictions Passcode and to use a separate passcode from the screen lock passcode. You can go through and restrict music, tv, video, Internet and more to the age appropriate settings of your choice. You can also limit things like Siri. If you work with teens you know they are going to spend a great deal of time asking Siri dirty questions, so you might just want to turn it off.

4. Turn off the screen lock

You can set up your iPad so it doesn’t go to a locked screen and ask for a passcode ever if you would like. You just have to make sure that someone goes through the area periodically and turns off the screens when not in use. If you do use a screen lock passcode, post the code on a sign in the your space so people can know what it is and don’t have to keep asking staff.

5. Downloading apps is easy when your iPads are connected

As I mentioned above, I believe the staff member at the Apple store told us that you could have up to 10 devices connected to one account. We talked briefly before about connecting devices with your email and Apple ID, but you’ll want to make sure you do this so that you have access to all the apps on your devices but only have to purchase them once. And should you have to restore an iPad, you can easily download the apps again. In fact, if you connect your iPads occasionally and sync them, when you restore them they will restore to the most recent sync and not all the way back to factory settings.

Here are a few other things we are learning:

  • Even with screen protectors, you have to wipe the screens clean several times a day to help keep the finger prints down.
  • We charge our devices over night so that we don’t have to leave the charging cords plugged in as a temptation. In the future we will look for a better charging station or a way to mount and secure the charging cords, but we are not currently set up that way and it would be very easy for someone to walk off with a charger.
  • We did buy lock boxes with cords which keep the devices safe throughout the day.
  • Teens like to take a lot of pictures and make videos. I did not investigate whether or not you can turn the camera off because part of how we use our devices are to teach photo manipulation and green screening, which means we use the camera. But we do go through a couple of times a day – and every open and close – to make sure and delete photos and videos. So far the highest number I have had is 129 photos of the same teen.

Here are a couple of other great discussions and set up tips I found regarding iPads in the library:

iPads in the Library: https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/ifought-the-ipads-and-iwon.html

iPad Dos and Don’ts: http://learninginhand.com/blog/classroom-ipod-touches-ipads-dos-and-donts.html

Integrating iPads into Library Service: http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2012/03/continuing-the-conversation-integrating-ipads-and-tablet-computers-into-library-service

And here’s what to do if a teen locks you out of your iPad, because it apparently can happen: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204306

MakerSpace: Unconventional Printing

makerspaceLook, we all know that I am obsessed with photo apps and pictures of my kids. But it’s not just for me, it’s for the teens – I swear. One of my favorite teen programs I have ever done – and I have repeated it several times – is a program called Renovate Your Room. The concept is simple: teens love to decorate their rooms and I love to decorate my house, so we make stuff to decorate. It’s a fun way to get teens creating and while they do this they are engaging in self expression, creativity and more.

As I move more into a MakerSpace model with an emphasis on STEAM programming, I have added more tech to the process, but the end product is still the same: creating original artwork by teens to decorate their space. I would love to be able to create images and cut them into glass or vinyl or even wood, but that kind of equipment isn’t in my future. But I have found a variety of ways to print my images onto things other then paper to take my creations up to the next level.

The first step of the process is to get teens hands on tech to create images. You can do this using a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone. You can use a variety of apps and programs, which I frequently review because I am in fact obsessed. To be completely honest, depending on what I am trying to create, I will often use a variety of apps. Very seldom do I produce something in just one app or program because most of the times they do different things. That’s part of the learning process, figuring out what creates what effect and deciding the best tools to use to create the final product you envision. Sometimes trial and error is involved and that’s okay.

Then, after you create your image, you have to find a way to make art out of it. The most basic thing to do of course is to print it off and frame it. But I have been exploring ways that you can take your creation to the next level with some unconventional printing.

Printing Onto Burlap

unconventionalprinting3Just by chance I stumbled across these burlap sheets that you can feed through your printer. They have a more standard burlap brown color and I bought a white burlap sheet. They came in a set of 3 sheets for under $3.00, which was a pretty reasonable price. I will say that for me, they came out crooked every. single. time. But that’s where you are forced to get innovative. I trimmed the edges to straighten my printed piece out and then fixed it with matting, Washi Tape and more.

It worked pretty well. The only thing I will say is that it works better with shapes and words as opposed to pictures with more finite detail, like faces. I think it would look amazing with silhouettes.

 

Transfer Paper, part 1

unconventionalprinting4The other day I was helping some teens on the teen areas as they set up and tried to print images on transfer paper. This was my introduction to the process and I am totally hooked. So I bought a pack of transfer paper and it comes in a pack of about 10 sheets for $10.00, basically a dollar a sheet.

I then made everyone a t-shirt. And I do mean everyone. For Thing 2’s shirt here to the left, I made my image using the Fused App. She is obsessed with The Flash and is always showing us how she runs fast like him so I incorporated that into my design. After creating my image I downloaded it and added the text using PowerPoint. I used PowerPoint because that is the program that I have on my laptop, any graphics program will do.

To make your image transfer successfully you MUST FLIP IT INTO A MIRROR IMAGE. This is incredibly important if your final creation has words or numbers. If you do not flip your image, it will come out backwards on your final project. No bueno.

Transfer Paper, part 2

unconventionalprinting2A great number of my previous Renovate Your Room projects involved Mod Podging pictures onto canvas. It works, I’m not dissing the process. BUT YOU CAN GET A BETTER FINAL RESULT if you use photo transfer paper.

In order to successfully use the transfer paper to get your image onto a canvas, you should remove the staples from the canvas and put the canvas on a flat surface so that you can get good leverage to iron your photo transfer on. Getting good leverage it very important to the transfer process. After your photo transfer is complete, you can use staple gun to staple the canvas back onto the frame.

Again, if you have words or text you’ll want to flip and do the mirror image thing. I made the canvas above using a combination of 2 apps: Aviary and Hipstamtic. I used the Eiffel Tower sticker in Aviary to create the base image and the Shangai filter in Hipstamatic to make the cloudy pastel effect. I adore this filter.

I did go ahead and Mod Podge over my final image to kind of seal everything in. I also went ahead and painted the edges to kind of blend everything together. In future planning I would size my final image so that the edges folded over the frame edges to give it that gallery frame effect.

Print Your Insta

unconventionalprinting1After finally setting up a wireless printer in my house – to practice MakerSpace stuff – I learned a very hard lesson: If you print your Instagram photos directly from your smart phone photo album they are automatically resized to 4×6 in size. This is not the effect I am going for. But do not fear, if you want the small square sized pictures – there is an app for that! Print Your Insta is a theoretically free app (more on this in a moment) that you can use to print your Instagram pics at home in a 3.5 by 3.5 size. I said theoretically free because you do have to pay for the $1.99 upgrade if you want to remove the watermark off of your photo. I do so I paid the small fee.

I have printed a large number of my Instagram pictures now and they are all over my house and I am in love. I bought a larger frame – I believe it was 16×20 – at a thrift store and made a collage of my prints which now lines my hallway. We have also created our own magnetic frames using duct tape, magnets and clear contact paper to create pics for the fridge. That process is outlined here.

Clear Vinyl Sticker Paper

This is a thing I have not yet tried, but it is right up my alley! You can buy clear vinyl sticker paper and use it to make stickers to label jars, boxes, etc. You could also make personalized candles, cups and more. There is a tutorial here, here and here.

Have fun finding creative ways to take your MakerSpace dabbling up a notch by engaging in some unconventional printing. You don’t necessarily have to buy fancy laser engravers to achieve some MakerSpace type of creations, you just need to engage in some unconventional printing and teach teens how to take that and apply it creatively to the every day objects of their lives. My library doesn’t have the space or budget for laser printers and wood engravers at this point, but we can definitely by some different types of printing mediums and help teens learn to create their digital images and then use some more traditional crafting processes to make their own creations.

And my house is looking great as I experiment and explore at home to take this information back to my teens!