Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

#MakerSpace: Typewriter Fun

We got a typewriter for our Teen MakerSpace. Yes, a typewriter. This may  not seem like a very high tech gadget to get for a MakerSpace, but it has proven to be a glorious addition. The idea came to me when I went to a Pinterest conference and they had a scrapbooking merchant who had a bank of typewriters set up and it seemed like such a glorious idea. This belief was further reinforced when we went to ALA and there was someone making zines using a good, old fashioned typewriter. So our hunt for a typewriter began.

Behold our typewriter station

Behold our typewriter station

It actually took us months – several months in fact – to find an old-fashioned manual typewriter in quality condition. I scoured thrift stores, antique stores and online apps like 5Mile. We eventually stumbled onto a man not too far from our hometown that bought and restored old typewriters. We went to his home, which he works out of, and walked down the steps into a basement full of 100s of typewriters put on display. He was a true maker, he owned his own 3D printer which he used to print parts and restore parts of the typewriters. He talked with us about things like type-ins, which are a real thing and they sound amazingly cool. He also sold us our super excellent old-fashioned manual typewriter, which it turns out the teens love.

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So you have a typewriter, now what?

As I have mentioned before, we have found that having creative prompts and displays greatly helps our teens think about ways they can engage with our various Teen MakerSpace stations. So we brainstormed activity ideas and put together a challenge sheet:

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Some of our activity challenges include:

Photo Manipulation

Type a favorite quote, poem or even just a short letter on the typewriter. Using an iPad for our iPad station, take a photo of your quote. You can now use various apps to change the look of your work. When you make something you like, you can print it out and do a variety of things with your artwork including, frame it, transfer it onto a canvas, or make it into a button. Here are some examples that I made.

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It’s interesting to take a plain white piece of paper with some typewritten text and see all the various ways that you can change it.

Button Making

As I have mentioned, button making is widely popular in our Teen MakerSpace, so of course which use our typewriter to make buttons.

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Book and Zine Making

An obvious use for the typewriter is to use it to make a mini book in our book making station. We also have resources on making zines that would work nicely with a typewriter.

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You can tear up strips of typewritten words and mod podge them onto a collage or onto a frame. You can type on a piece of origami paper and fold it into a secret message. One teen made shape poetry using the typewriter. There are really a lot of fun and creative ways that a typewriter can be incorporated into a MakerSpace.

After growing up on computers, it’s interesting to see the teens trying to use a manual typewriter. It’s slower than a computer, so there is a bit of an adjustment the teens have to make. It can lead to lots of my gosh you’re so old jokes (for the record, we did in fact have color television when I was born thank you teens). There is a bit of awe and novelty to it. If you can get your hands on one for a reasonable price, I highly recommend it.

A Note About Cost: You can buy a typewriter at Michael’s as part of the We R Memory Keepers line, but it is around $200.00. We kept waiting and it is almost always exempted from any of the coupons, so those don’t help. They do sell replacement ribbons which are universal so they work even on our much discounted antique typewriter. I recommend asking around in the community to see if someone has one to donate or to check resale apps and lists like Ebay or 5Mile.

Take 5: YA Lit Titles for Makers and MakerSpaces

Collection development is an active process in which I, like all librarians, actively seek to build balanced collections of all types of books. Because we have an active and popular Teen MakerSpace, one of the things I actively look for are “maker” related books. These can be books that include any type of maker related activity, including djing and music production, coding, hacking, robotics, film making and more. Here are 5 new (and newish) books that somehow relate to the concept of making.

Dotwav by Mike A. Lancaster

dotwavPublisher’s Book Description

Fifteen-year-old Ani Lee is a skilled hacker researching a strange .wav file that she’s downloaded when it behaves as no file ever should.

Joe Dyson is a seventeen-year-old American transplant recruited into secret teen division of the British intelligence service who’s looking into the disappearance of a friend caught up in an underground music scene that might be more than it appears.

When Ani and Joe’s investigations intertwine, they discover that the .wav file and the music are linked—someone’s embedding the file into tracks to create a mind-controlled teen army.

But who’s behind it? And why? And how do you stop a sound? (Sky Pony Press, September 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

If you love books where teens act as spies or secret agents, this book is for you. It is also a fascinating look at how technology can be combined with music production to . . . what exactly? Control populations? Subvert? Like I said, fascinating. Lancaster writes interesting premises, and given the leaps and bounds being made with technology these days they terrify as well as fascinate. Also, there is a female hacker in this book (whom I adore) and this would be a good companion novel with the Find Me series by Romily Bernard, which also features a female hacker.

Titans by Victoria Scott

titansPublishers Book Description

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about. (Scholastic, February 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

Teenage girls that build mechanical creatures to race while smashing the patriarchy? Why yes please. I loved so much about this book from premise to characters, and it is the most classicly maker feeling book on the list. From problem solving to hands on building, this book is maker culture on full display.

Replica by Lauren Oliver

replicaPublishers Book Description

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever… (Harper Collins, October 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

Full disclosure, I haven’t finished reading this one to completion yet. But put this on your list of suggested reads for Strange Things fans. Also full disclosure, I’m a big Lauren Oliver fan.

Gamescape by Emma Trevayne

gamescapePublishers Book Description

The planet is dying. Centuries of abuse have damaged the earth beyond repair, and now all the authorities can do is polish the surface, make the landscape look pretty to hide the disease within. Two prominent yet mysterious businessmen couldn’t fix it, either, but they did something even better. Together, they invented Chimera, the most complex and immersive virtual reality video game the world has ever known. The Cubes in which Chimera is played quickly became a fixture of this landscape: part distraction, part hospital, and almost wholly responsible for holding up the failing world economy.

Miguel Anderson is also dying. He isn’t the only one who plays the game–everybody does–but Miguel has more reason than most: When players leave their Cubes for the day, the upgrades and enhancements they’ve earned for their virtual characters leave with them. New lungs to breathe poisoned air, skin that won’t burn under the sun are great and everything… but Miguel, born as broken as the earth, needs a new heart–and soon–if he wants any hope of surviving just a little longer.

Then the two Gamerunners announce a competition, with greater rewards and faster progression than ever before, and Miguel thinks his prayers have been answered. All he needs to do is get picked to lead a team, play the game he’s spent years getting good at, and ask for his prize when he wins. Simple, really.

At first, things seem to go according to plan. Mostly, anyway. Inside his Cube, with his new team–including his best friend–at his back, Miguel begins his quest. He plays recklessly, even dangerously, for someone whose most vital organ could give up at any moment, but his desperation makes him play better than ever. The eyes of the world are on him, watching through status updates and live feeds, betting on his chances. With greater rewards, though, come greater risks, and the Gamerunners seem to delight at surprising the competitors at every turn. As he ventures deeper into a world that blends the virtual and the real to an unsettling degree, Miguel begins to wonder just why the game was invented at all, and whether its stakes could be even higher than life and death. (Greenwillow, September 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

I haven’t read this yet, but gaming, game design and coding are all very popular topics with teens in my Teen MakerSpace. For more video game related reads, check out this list.

Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

boyrobotPublishers Book Description

Boy Robot is the first in a planned science fiction trilogy that follows a group of synthetic cell human teens with special abilities as they fight against the government organization that created them and now wants to destroy them. (Simon Pulse, November 2016)

Karen’s Thoughts

On my TBR list

Have some other titles to add to my list? I would love for you to drop me a comment. I’m always looking for new ones.

Scenes from a Teen MakerSpace Open House

Yesterday in celebration of The National Week of Making, we officially introduced our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) to our community by hosting an open house. Our Teen MakerSpace is normally only open to teens ages 12 through 18, but we wanted to let the public know what we are doing with (and for) their teens, so we spent the day making with our community.

The Set Up

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We spent the better part of the last 2 weeks getting prepared. I designed and ordered cool TMS (Teem MakerSpace) backpacks to hand out. We made logos to put on water bottles. We made lists and checked them twice. We bought supplies. We made signage. We organized. We recruited. We stressed. And then we celebrated.

The Welcome Table

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Teens could enter to win a Maker Kit and we handed out our backpacks.

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A teen volunteers at the TMS Open House welcome table

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The Activities

Because our Teen MakerSpace is small, we held our event on two floors. Some activities were upstairs in the TMS, but many were downstairs in the large meeting rooms to accommodate a greater number of people.

For every activity we do, we made sure to have a variety of books available on the various topics for our guests. In addition, we made sure and included some higher tech making with more arts and crafts, in part to accommodate the large number of anticipated guests without totally destroying our yearly budget, but also because we have learned through the course of the last six months of being open that our teens like to do arts and crafts just as much as they like to get their hands on technology.

String Art

We just discovered string art. Actually, it came about because my assistant director had a HUGE amount of craft string in her basement that she handed to me and I have never been good at making friendship bracelets so I needed a way to use these. Seriously, I have always found friendship bracelets hard to make.

Supplies: Foam core board, straight or push pins, templates, string.

Note: We found it easier to glue the pins in place using a hot glue gun.

Glue your pins and place and just string it up. It’s time consuming, but everyone was happy with their completed projects.

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A butterfly made by The Teen

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A string art heart in process

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She was very excited by her completed project. Also note how she filled in the background to make a complete art project.

Lego Fun

The best part of all our Lego fun was the Rube Goldberg machine that we created with the help of a Klutz Lego Chain Reactions kit.

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A teen tinkers with Lego

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Another teen tinkers with Lego

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The amazing Lego contraption made with the Klutz Lego Chain Reaction kit

And here’s our Lego Chain Reaction in action.

Shrinky Dink Jewelry

I was surprised by how many teens asked, “What are Shrinky Dinks?” Honestly, introducing them to Shrinky Dinks was the greatest community service we could provide.

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This necklace was designed in honor of a video game. The charm apparently represents the character in the game’s soul. Bonus points if you know the game.

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Another fine necklace. Teens really liked to spell out their names in Shrinky Dink charms.

Post It Note Art

I am obsessed with Sharpie’s. Even more so since we got this cool Sharpie art book in our Maker Collection (more on this soon). So we thought a simple activity to do would be to create a Sharpie Post It Note Gallery. This turned out to be both incredibly fun and extremely popular.

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The Post It Note Art Gallery

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I asked someone to draw me a Tardis. I got two!

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The Post It Note Art Gallery with filters

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Teen drawing Post It Note Art

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More Post It Note art

3D Pens

Our 3D pens have proven to be very popular. In fact, they go so much use that we keep breaking them, which is not awesome. But here are our pens in action.

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A 3D creation in process

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More 3D artwork in process

Coloring Stations

You may have heard, but teen and adult coloring is all the rage. My co-worker hosts a monthly teen and adult coloring night and they get around 40 people at each event, so it was a no brainer for me to include a coloring station.

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The coloring station: We made bookmarks with templates we found in the book Words to Live By (Dawn Nicole Warnaar)

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A completed bookmark

Final Thoughts

It was a lot of work, but completely worth it. Our event was open from Noon until 7 PM and we were exhausted at the end. BUT it was so much fun and we enjoyed seeing all the cool creations.

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We are still loving our fingerprint art buttons!

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A teen creating something with duct tape

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Rainbow Loom and Post It Note art in action

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Exploring the Teen MakerSpace

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From the outside looking in to the Teen MakerSpace