On our first day of Teen Tech Week, we had fun creating tech cord covers and friendship bracelets; several students returned Tuesday to continue working on those crafts. On Wednesday, we brought out multiple rolls of decorative duct tape in different colors and patterns for students to use for creating decorative accessories. While we scaffolded the activity with handouts and videos of instructions for some crafty creations, many students used these resources as a springboard to devise their own unique duct tape artistry. Some students fashioned jewelry, while others made backpack and pencil accessories; some students designed duct tape bookmarks. One student who had learned duct tape crafting at a neighboring branch of the public library wowed everyone with a whale themed wallet she created in about twenty minutes! Students worked together as they showed each other techniques for measuring, folding, and shaping duct tape into something more than a sticky tool. Just like Monday, the hour was a time to socialize, design, wonder, imagine, and help each other.
On Thursday, we debuted our new purchases of Makey Makey kits and basic Squishy Circuit kits. Jennifer and Victoria Dodd (our instructional technology specialist and coach) whipped up our very own conductive and insulating playdough the week before to use with these kits. We readily acknowledged to our teens that we were new to these mediums for creating and experimenting and that we’d be learning side by side with them—this day was definitely one of tremendous learning and fun for all of us! We kicked off each lunch/guided study period of DIY time in the library by doing a demo of the MakeyMakey piano and bongo; Victoria served as the “ground” while Jennifer and I high-fived and tapped Victoria to make the music. This demo was both fun to demonstrate and for the kids to see in action; this was just one of many activities on Thursday that brought much laughter and delight! We then showed a couple of quick videos to spark everyone’s imaginations and then turned our students loose with the kits.
Again, the beauty of working with the squishy circuits and Makey Makey kits was that we learned by DOING and engaged in collaborative problem-solving. How often do most high school students get to do that in these test-crazed times? To see these teens thinking so intently, experimenting, and learning through trial and error in a relaxed setting was truly a joy and a way for us to grow the kind of culture of learning we want the library to embody. These are also elements and mediums for learning we want to embed into our library as learning studio redesign that is in progress. We had several students wanting to know if these kits would be available not only the next day but beyond Teen Tech Week to play with during lunch and guided study time, and our answer was a resounding YES. We were thrilled that the day sparked excitement and interest that will carry over into the spring even though Teen Tech Week has ended. It was also heartening for us to see that our first core group who attended Monday attended both the Wednesday and Thursday sessions—and while some of that group are teens we consider “regular” visitors during lunch and guided study, we saw a lot of new faces who now see the library in a different way and that we have fun, creative activities that speak to their interests as learners. These three days gave us a glimpse of what could be and should be for the library as we move forward with the physical and conceptual redesign to a comprehensive learning studio that invites students and teachers to learn, create, and experiment together . Stay tuned for the last post on Teen Tech Week–I’ll be sharing how we partnered with our friends from the Gwinnett Public Library to introduce the world of 3D printing to our teens!