why is it that i never really know what i'm doing?

i went to school. got the 27k in debt to prove it. they taught me all kindsa nifty stuff.

and yet, what do i do when an 8 year old pees on the floor in a stream from the self checks to the kids computers? (and just how big is an 8 year old's bladder anyway?) what do i do when a man with garlic and steak breath professes his undying love to me. again. for the 3rd time today.
this is a chronicle of what i did, when the crazy happened. which, in a public library is much more often than you'd think. and which, they also don't teach you about in liberry skool.

check out my YouTube Channel for live videos of liberry craziness!


oh, and there's also a book review or two.



Friday, August 22, 2014

makercamp!

so, for the past two years, i've listed my library as a makercamp affiliate. super affiliate, actually;) if you aren't familiar with makercamp, get thee to the website ASAP! i'll wait.

this is an amazing resource for librarians and educators. here's how my experience with them last and this year went:

in may 2013 i contact makercamp (make magazine and google+) when i heard about it and asked them what the projects would be for the july/august camp as they were not yet listed.

they said, 'we won't be listing them until a week before'
i said, 'crap, that ain't gonna work for me. i have expectations of 20+ kids and gathering supplies and such isn't easy without a lot of advance notice.'
they said, 'don't worry! they will all be projects with stuff you have laying around the house and really inexpensive!'
then, they said, 'hey, dude, wanna be an affiliate?'
and i said, 'i can't answer that without knowing what the projects will be!'
and they said, 'congratulations, you're a SUPER AFFILIATE!'
and then, they sent me a humungo box of amazing stuff. witness said stuff:


 so, i was like, 'yeah, ok, i'll totally be a SUPER AFFILIATE, now what the hell are the projects???'

turns out, that i was right, LOTS of the makercamp projects, while using household materials are SUPER impractical in a library setting with 20 kids. i mean, who the hell has 20 babyfood jars, 20 feathers, 20 copper wires, 20 LEDs, 20 batteries and 20 battery holders laying around to make wind triggered lanterns? not me. i mean, i'm working on it and all, but shit. it takes a while to eat that much damned baby food.

on the other hand, we created Hacker Haven from this bountiful pile of goodness by putting out all this awesome stuff and just letting people play with it. and Hacker Haven has been one of the most successful programs i've ever set up and i've created a ton of partnerships from it and we've gotten the MACH1 makerspace off the ground and now i even have a MACH board! yes! go makercamp!!!

so, i was game, and a few of the projects worked really well in a library like learning to solder (only one kid got burned!), 2 liter motor boats and balloon blimps. and then, halfway through the summer, LEGO sent me a LEGO educational kit. seriously, wow. what a cool program! so, this year, i signed up again even though they did not promise to change ANYTHING:)


and, they made good. they haven't changed at all with the timeline. they still make you wait until a few days before the project to see it. as a librarian, it sucks to scramble and try to get materials for that many kids with no budget and no advanced planning, so this year, i incorporated the projects into existing programming.

we added to Paper Engineering, Hacker Haven and some of our other programs, i waited an extra week and did the prior week's projects to give myself more time to gather all the crap and i only did projects that made sense for us.

so, this year, because they had way more affiliates, they sent WAY less free stuff, which is fine! i get it. they sent another microcontroller pack with an Uno though and lots of LEDs and coin cell batteries, so they still get my many many thanks. who doesn't like free shit?

so, check out makercamp, they've archived the schedules here. just go to the bottom of the page and you can see 2012/2013.

try out some kryptonite kandy, make a potato cannon, do a needle tower. and next year, sign up for makercamp or come see me, i'm a SUPER AFFILIATE FOR LIFE, yo!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

pasta rovers

the simple car
so, we've been talking pasta rovers all over my library system. they are fun, great for any age group, cheap as hell and they really do work! we did them at beginning of summer and had a blast. here are some recent tips i gave to one of the librarians in our system:
sharing the specs
  • Have lots of hot glue guns on hand in the gluing area, that glue works way better than elmer's or anything else. 
  • Also, have LOTS of lasagna noodles, those were in high demand and we ran out of them. 
  • Every other type of noodle is usable in some way, whether decoration or functional. Lots of kinds of noodles also make for great little 'people' who 'drive' :) 
  • I could not find wheel noodles anywhere, so I used life saver mints with the hole in them.
  • The hollow spaghetti is more structurally sound than the filled spaghetti. 
  • launching
  • Don't show too many examples of cars already constructed, it kills their creativity and they just end up making the car they were looking at instead of going crazy and making a giant pirate boat:)
  • Use the opportunity to have the kids give a presentation about their vehicle.
a pirate boat!
sharing the specs














I'm almost positive that Design Squad also did the noodle cars somewhere in their lesson plans definitely check them out if you get a chance!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thanks Scientific Mom!

We are doing a Space Academy this week for kids with a NASA based curriculum. Monday through Friday from 10-12. Each day is based on a section of NASA study. Earth, Planets, Missions, Astrophysics and Heliophysics. Kids are doing several activities each day and so far we've had 25 kids come both days! I'm really excited about the rest of the week even though I'm so tired. I plan to write up a program plan of the whole week so that people can copy it and I'll post it here when I'm done.

The Scientific Mom posted the rest below on her facebook page today. If you haven't seen her blog, you should totally go there now!!!


Today at Summer Space Academy, Kat is making the phases of the moon with Oreos! This has been something she has been wanting to do for so long! It is such a neat activity that really reinforces the concept that the phases of the moon change based on how much light is reflecting on it as it orbits the Earth.

If you would like to make your own Oreo phases of the moon, here is a fantastic tutorial from our friend Science Bob!

http://www.sciencebob.com/blog/?p=828

Here is a great image of the phases of the moon, along with an in depth explanation of the orbit of the moon around the Earth!

http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases.phtml

This was just one activity that the kids did today. They also made a full water cycle in a bottle (with clouds and rain!), water bottle thermometers, stomp and straw rockets, and more! Thank you Phoenix Public Library for putting together such stellar space programming for our future Space Cadets!

Photo: Today at Summer Space Academy, Kat is making the phases of the moon with Oreos! This has been something she has been wanting to do for so long! It is such a neat activity that really reinforces the concept that the phases of the moon change based on how much light is reflecting on it as it orbits the Earth. 

If you would like to make your own Oreo phases of the moon, here is a fantastic tutorial from our friend Science Bob! 

http://www.sciencebob.com/blog/?p=828

Here is a great image of the phases of the moon, along with an in depth explanation of the orbit of the moon around the Earth!

http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases.phtml

This was just one activity that the kids did today. They also made a full water cycle in a bottle (with clouds and rain!), water bottle thermometers, stomp and straw rockets, and more! Thank you Phoenix Public Library for putting together such stellar space programming for our future Space Cadets!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

play dough + electricity = rainbow

so squishy circuits are a cool thing where you take electrically conductive play dough, put in some battery juice and light shit up. super simple stuff with immediate results.

the people at st. thomas who came up with the concept have a great ted talk and they are super cool about sharing info about how it all works. they have some nifty videos and can really break it down so that even very little guys can learn about a circuit. and people like me can watch the videos and then later sound semi-intelligent when repeating said info to large groups of small children. (this is why i work with kids, they think i'm a genius, little do they know, bwahaha!)
here's the rad website so you can see more.and here's where you buy some if you want the fancy kit. and here's the cool ted talk. and here's where you can find the video that will make you sound smart to little kids.

you make the play dough yourself on a stove and can add food coloring to make it interesting. the conductive dough has a ton of salt and some cream of tartar in it to make it more conductive. the insulating dough has a ton of sugar and no salt to make it insulating (although it is still mildly conductive).

so, i got a free squishy circuits kit form google/make magazine last year for participating in maker camp. (i'm doing it again this year, btw, woot!) it comes with a battery pack, a motor, two noise makers and 25 10mm diffused LEDs in 5 colors. all for the very reasonable price of $25.00. you can get about 4 kids per each kit, so it can get a little expensive if you are talking large groups.

so, i was super excited about it and i made the dough at home right away, both insulating and conductive, i put fresh batteries in the pack and proceeded to talk to the kids the next day in a semi intelligent way, using the st. thomas videos as a reference. the kids were duly impressed with the spinning motor and making noise and plugging in all the LEDs to find out what color they were. 

i love squishy circuits and so do kids. but here's the thing about them. the kids are always like, 'so now what'? after about 15 minutes and i'm like 'ummmmmm, i have no idea cuz i just looked this shit up on the internet 30 minutes before you got here'.

so, here's some stuff i learned about squishy circuits that you might want to know, in case you are looking this shit up 30 minutes before your liberry program:

  • the conductive dough is great. the insulating dough….not so much. it is sticky!!! no matter how much flour you add, that stuff is ick. so you can really only use it once, while the conductive will last several sessions. i have completely forgone the insulating dough for quicker activities. it is really only needed if you are going to have the kids make squishy animals. 
  • squishy animals are totally impossible. ok, probably i am exaggerating here, but myself and 3 adults spent over an hour trying to follow the st. thomas instructions and getting NO WHERE! 
  • the conductive dough will corrode the crap out of your terminals. seriously, wash that stuff off! our interns didn't, just put it all back in the box and left it. then we had a battery pack start getting super hot on us and i almost set a kid on fire. ok, i probably didn't almost set him on fire, but i am pretty sure that super heated battery packs are not ok for little kids to play with.
  • the parents will be way more into it than the kids will. the kids love to hear the correct meaning of terms like 'short circuit' and 'parallel circuit'. they may have heard the phrases before, but to see it in action is cool. the parents are mind blown by it though, they get super excited.
  • the motor, is really not very exciting at all. everyone mostly just sticks a tiny lump of clay on the end and watches it spin.
  • those buzzers that come with the kit? ANNOYING does not begin to convey the true horror of 6 kits = 12 buzzers + all kids using them at the same time…..they sound like emergency signals and they suck.
I also figured out that you really don't need to buy the kit. i mean, unless you have a ton of money to spend and all, in which case, you should buy me some too. you make the dough at home and you can pick up the components at radio shack in the drawers. you can get your LEDs on ebay for super cheap and you don't actually have to clamp leads on anything, just strip your battery pack wires back enough so that they are exposed. you can try different sized batteries and alternate components including nicer sounding buzzers. stay cheap though, i was totally not kidding about that corrosive salt thing and you will be throwing things away eventually.

Look up this guy for some really good advise on a free play activity. you can also find a variety of lesson plans for kids online by typing 'squishy circuits activities' into  google. you'll also find a ton of long, boring, semi-scholarly articles, but you can ignore those if you want. And, according to this guy, you don't even need to make the dough. but where's the fun in that? plus, play dough costs way more than flour and salt and i always need my budget to stretch. 

also, they both seem to think that squishy animals is a possibility. so far this has eluded me, but i am a tenacious beast:)