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.



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:)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

minecraft shminecraft

so, last summer i got this honorarium check for speaking about disconnected youth to the wisconsin library association. i get requests 1-2 times a year and if i want to go to there, i accept. except that the places are always wisconsin or some other mid-west town and it's always freakin' january. who the hell wants to go to wisconsin in january?

so, i proposed a webinar. cuz i'm a genius. and they paid me some money, which, as a representative of my city, i am not allowed to keep.

so then, i was like, what should i spend this awesome money on? tools? PLA for our 3D printer? soldering irons to burn myself with? one of my employees said, 'dude, get minecraft. if you build it, they will come.' and i was like, 'wtf is minecraft?'

so, i looked up minecraft, i played a demo and i got stuck in an ocean and couldn't get out. what the hell is this pixelated crap and why the hell do i want it in my library? i considered buying lots of guitar strings. and i did more research.

basically, minecraft is a game where kids MINE things and use what they mined to CRAFT other things. also, they kill zombies. and lots of libraries and schools are on board. like this dude. and these people.

also, every single teen in the entire teen center was on minecraft one day. we have 18 computers! so, probably they will come.

so, i spent the cash on minecraft edu licenses for our maker space, MACH1.

man, i was sooooooo gung ho about having those minecraft licenses too. we have 12 computers. we could have at least 12 kids all working together diligently towards a common goal! we could send the kids on adventures and have them do scavenger hunts! we could build replicas of our library in the world with the kids! we could challenge them to learn more about chemistry, space, geology and more!

aaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnddddddddd then we couldn't get the damned things to work. first, i didn't have permissions to load software onto the computers, then the IT guys loaded it and couldn't get the computers to talk to the server. then the versions needed to be updated and the computers lost the server IP address every time we restarted. and blah blah blah. such is the way of technology at the library. fortunately, though i am not actually a real genius as i implicated above, i am stubborn as fu*k.

so, i finally got it working and the kids came! they came in droves. they RAN AS FAST AS THEY COULD INTO THE ROOM AND SLAMMED INTO THEIR SEATS.

so, yes, they come. but do they collaborate? do we set scavenger hunts? have we built a replica library????

nope.

we do absolutely nothing educational. not. one. single. thing. all we do is try to stop them from killing each other as they scream about who stole their diamonds and complain about how they're stuck in the nether and they want the entire game restarted. (what the HELL IS NETHER???)





*sigh* can't win 'em all.

at least i'm keeping them off the streets and out of your yards with spray paint cans. holla!


ps, if you are dying to start doing minecraft in your liberry or school check out this stuff:
EduCrew Youtube channel
World Library
Minecraft Edu
Minecraftedu Wiki
Beautiful Libraries Built in Minecraft (SEE, someone is doing it!!!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

never walk away from your 3D printer

so, back to that 3D printing being hard.
confession: the makerbot was locked away for MONTHS because i busted it. i printed a big job and walked away. unfortunately the build plate wasn't completely level and when i came back the next day, a HUGE glob of PLA was glomped all up on the extruder and had gone up into the fan and other parts and then dried.

the insulator and instructions
what was left of the glob from one side
i turned the printer back on and heated the extruder and was able to get the bulk of it off, but the remainder was still there, still stuck, still red as hell. why did i pick red PLA? red is the color of my mistake.



so, i called makerbot and asked them to send me some new insulator. the insulator material just goes around the extruder. it in no way at all was needed at this point, but i had to do something. then, i waited for it to come in and thought about how the hell i was going to get all that PLA off the extruder, fans and such.

soldering iron, meet PLA!!
so, after 2 months i finally hit on the brilliant idea of melting it off with a crappy old soldering iron. we got new soldering irons with lovely new tips, so who cares what happens to this one! yay! i am a freakin' genius. so, i plugged it in and started melting. and it worked. ok, no, it didn't work at all.

this looks worse. much much worse.
turns out that PLA is designed to melt at a very specific temperature range. once it is out of this range, it immediately cools and hardens. i totally knew this already. so the soldering iron melted the PLA, but not for long enough for me to pull it or scrape it off. so i held it there longer.

and i set it on fire.

yep, fire.

as in flames and smoke. in my office.



And I print too!!
so, when my husband called to ask what we were having for dinner, i was SUPER frustrated to say the least. bless him, he came down after work and helped me. he melted, he pulled, he scraped and he cussed and now, i have a clean 3D printer! here is the evidence:

Look at me! I'm so clean!!


So, the moral of the story is thus;
don't get a 3D printer unless you are married.