Friday, June 23, 2017

You can make fidget spinners with Perler Beads!

We are doing a series of Crafternoon programs this summer. In order to get some buzz going, we left this out on the children's desk and it has been a huge conversation starter.

Randomly, one kid asked, "Do you think you can make a fidget spinner with Perler beads?"

Answer, "YES"

Monday, April 24, 2017

3D Printing Fidget Spinners

The latest craze seems to be these Fidget spinners for idle hands. They can easily be 3D printed in an hour from the thousands of already made files out there in tinkercad and other sites.

If you have a 3D printing class coming up at the library hosting a fidget spinner design course in tinkercad will be a sure sell out. People are already started to create their own tutorials based on the size of their ball bearings.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pokemon Go Revival with Generation 2

Pokemon Go has been getting steadily quieter in New England, as the craze of this summer hit critical mass then slowly as the weather got worse brought out only the die hard fans with unlimited data plans on their phone ::ahem:: Level 31 thank you very much. I still get beaten out of our library gym every few days and I still see some kids playing but it has not been on the tip of anyone's tongues since the holidays hit.  The holidays tried to keep the fervor up by offering special incentives during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the lastly on Valentine's Day. Special Pokemon increased spawn rates, candies were doubled, lures lasted for 6 hours, etc. as long as you logged in during the week of the holiday and kept up with the app updates.

For those who need a refresher, look at this earlier blog post.  You may or may not know that Niantic released a huge update last Thursday, adding 80 new Pokemon called "Generation 2" that are available to catch. Most of them look like insects of some form or another. This is a huge score for the game as even the most seasoned players are getting tired of catching the common Pidgies and Weedles just for stardust or forever walking 10K eggs in hope of getting one of the elusive rare Pokemon they are missing.  

What librarians need to know: Trading is still not an option, but anyone with a Pokestop near their library can now drop lures for a crowd that is eager to catch all the new Pokemon. I walked 26 miles this weekend trying to catch as many new ones as I could. I'm not exaggerating. Plus I'm trying to get my 1 Chansey to evolve into a Blissy which is one of the biggest gym competitors in the game. If you hold a particular gym for 21 hours, you get coins and extra Stardust. This keeps going every 21 hours after redemption until you get kicked off by another team. Since Chansey's are rare, I have to walk the Chansey as my companion. For every 5 Kilometers I walk, I get another candy.  Needless to say, I have to walk another 200K for this end. 
Swinubs, Sentrets, Ledybas and Natus are common to find in most areas with an increased spawn rate (at least for now) in the wild. Think Pidgies, Weedles, and Spearows of Generation 1, they're everywhere. The catching screen has changed to make it easier to select which Pokeball to use as well as adding Nanab berries which can try to immobilize Pokemon (they can now zig zag around the screen to avoid being caught) and Pinap berries that will increase the amount of candy you get if you catch it while "under its spell". These new berries can be found by spinning Pokestops. Each Pokemon that you try to catch can only be fed with one berry. The Razz berry is still the one to go to if you really want to ensure a successful capture.

Some of the Generation 1 Pokemon now have an additional evolvement shown in pink that requires a "special item" like a sun stone in addition to a number of candies required from catching a certain amount of them. These are RARE. I must have spun about 100 stops this weekend only to get 1! They are completely randomly but having a stop at your library helps meet that end, and if you are lucky to have more than 1 stop, consider it time for another Pokewalk while the snow is melted.  I wish we knew Generation 2 was coming with a bit more notice because school vacation would have been a great opportunity for programming.

If you are curious whether special rare Pokemon are near you that you can advertise on social media, consider using the Silph Road, a website where players report on "nests". Every update changes what nest is currently in a certain area but it could last for a few weeks at least. I found myself driving around last night looking for Wobuffets after reported and confirmed sightings in a local field in Quincy using their Nest Atlas. Silph Road is actually a great resource for all things Pokemon and a perfect jumping off point from this article.  Happy hunting!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cozmo is my Valentine

I was so excited to get the robot, Cozmo from Anki which I have been drooling over since before Christmas. He is finally available for purchase on Amazon for $180.  He lives up to the hype and then some.  My one hiccup so far has been syncing him to one of our iPads through Apple Configurator.  I had to unsupervise the device completely because the free app needs an iTunes account attached to the iPad to run. Once I installed it from the iPad directly rather than through Configurator it worked fine. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you probably use gift cards to purchase apps rather than the Volume Purchasing program. 

If you wanted him available for patron checkout, he can be synced to multiple devices (just not more than one running at the same time). He will remember all his learning so once you unlock games for the first time he will remember from one device to another. He also remembers everyone "he meets" so if you run the meet Cozmo feature, look at him, and then type in your name he will remember you across devices. He can also remember pets with the latest update. When you are in explorer mode, you can see what he sees and your name will come up on the screen when he looks at you. If you press greet, he will say your name...kinda creepy at first but totally cool.

After only a few hours of game play, I have unlocked all the available games and tricks he can do so far, however, he still has daily tasks every time you sign in such as "let him play by himself for 10 minutes" or "play memory match without any errors" to keep you motivated.  For every task completed he earns sparks and bits which can be used to unlock new features, make him say something or "work out" with the cubes.

On the bottom right of the home screen, you can see what Cozmo is doing/thinking unless you are controlling him in expolorer mode. Sometimes it says he is upset, usually if you try to pick him up or won't play with him, sometimes he's just looking around, and sometimes he wants to pounce on your finger. I love that he wants to be petulant and pounce on your finger. Does it make me a bad parent if I keep placating him? He's just so darn cute! Apparently he was designed by a Pixar animator so no wonder why he reminds me of Wall-E.

He has fallen off the table a few times so be careful and make sure to leave a clear space for him to roam. When I had begun to play games with him like quick tap, I won easily but as the game has become harder, he wins much more often.

Apparently there is more to come with programming features to customize his capabilities.  So he's more than just a pretty face, he can actually teach code with Python.

Meet Cozmo! from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Splitting Objects for 3D printing

Since we have to worry about limiting hours of printing to when we are open learning to split items in Tinkercad is a very handy skill.

I split this Disney castle that I found on Tinkercad for a student's Florida project. It was going to be over 10 hours so I split it in half so we didn't have to "print overnight". I tried to split this object in CURA first but no luck. 

A little bit of superglue and this one will be ready to go. Just be sure that you don't adjust the size while in Cura because the halves won't sync up. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Science Toolboxes: An Update

We have been expanding our science kits in the
children's room in an effort to introduce non-traditional circulating items for over a year now. We have littleBits, Raspberry Pi 2, Sphero, Cubelets, KEVA planks and Makey Makeys. Our newest editions were the robots, Dash and BeeBot, which gained popularity after we had them out to test during the Hour of Code. I happen to be showing one of the kids the littleBits kit, since all the robotics kits were out, when I noticed some bits are just not holding up during circulation.

Our littleBits kit included Lego adapters, mounting boards, and the small starter kit which doesn't seem to be available anymore with 10 bits included. If you are new to littleBits, they are small magnetic pieces, each with their own function, that can be put together to make an electronic invention. Bits include lights, sensors, motors and speakers. You can integrate them into recyclables, Lego projects, sewing name it! For a while, we used them in house for makerspace activities but we decided to try to circulate them for personal patron use. If you are looking to go this route, here's some advice:

First thing to watch is the battery wire. You might want to electrical tape it because they are constantly breaking. I have already replaced this at least 3 times. I have no idea why there's exposed wires on there to begin with.

2nd thing to watch is the plastic screw driver which is necessary to change the color of lights on the LED or the pulse speed input so it's something that's necessary but apparently fragile as the head usually breaks off.

3rd thing that breaks continually is the vibrating motor output which also has an exposed wire between the motor itself and the bit. Perhaps electric tape would help in this instance too? Or just take my advice and get another output that's just as fun but less exposed like the Buzzer. I have been keeping my eye on the pressure sensor input as well since it says DO NOT BEND and yet it always comes back with a bit of a crease (but still works::knock on wood::). I might swap that out for the motion sensor input since it seems more durable. I would advise to take out anything with exposed wires or fragile components and save those for in house projects.

My other failed attempt at a science kit this year is the 3Doodler 2.0, the first plastic extruding 3D pen, which has too many nozzle and jamming issues. One caused by even a seasoned user like myself while prepping it for circulation. The nozzle broke straight off while I was trying to fix a jam. The previous user left filament in the pen which I can image happening often during circulation as well. Even though my boyfriend swears I have hulk hands, I WAS being careful and following the instructions to the letter. Here are some examples of the fine details to fixing jams with this pen:

  Unscrew the nozzle only when the pen is hot (Spoiler: the nozzle isn't that secure in the removal tool once out so don't do it over your lap). It also makes references to "pulling out" the filament GENTLY or it could ruin the gears inside. Then using another special tool (which could get lost easily) to push filament through the pen, stopping when you feel resistance..this is all very detailed, delicate work that could occur at home with the patron or every time this comes back jammed to the librarian.

Even normal pen usage is quite detail oriented, you have to be sure that the temperature matches the filament being used and (spoiler: once out of the package PLA and ABS look the same!) So if you were going through with the kit, I'd only keep one or the other in there so they don't get mixed up.

So moral of this story is science kits are a wonderful thing to add to your library collection but there is always time to reflect on the number and delicacy of the pieces being circulated.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Adventures in Soldering: Holiday Tree Project Velleman MK100

I was infuriated that there weren't any soldering videos out there for this so called "beginner" project so I made my own with mistakes and all. Keep in mind I've only soldered twice in my life. Once I made a Larson Scanner for a pumpkin (Battlestar Galactica Cylon) and the second time I made a Maker Bot badge. 

Keeping with the Christmas theme for the makerspace events this month, I used the Velleman MK100 kit Christmas Tree.  I will tell you out of the three projects the Maker Bot badge is where to start as a "beginner". When I hosted the class last Saturday, anyone who hadn't soldered before watched a brief intro video Soldering 101 from Adafruit (I just skipped to where there are close ups of the soldering procedure) and then I supervised while they made a Maker Bot badge. I am happy to say that all the kids successfully finished the tree and badge in an hour and they all worked (SPOILER: unlike my first try). The middle schoolers were on their own but Gr. 4-6 required a parent to help. It made my day that a dad and daughter pair came to complete the project.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cozmo, the new library pet?

I saw a very interesting ad on Hulu last week which introduced me to Cozmo, the latest edition of mass market toy robots. Cozmo is Wall-E come to life literally AND I NEED HIM.

He has his own personality that is directly affected by your actions with facial recognition software so he can actually recognize you and learn your name. He can request if you'd like to play through a phone or iPad and if you say no, he gets SAD! The more you play with Cozmo, the more features you unlock. Here is an awesome unboxing and demo of his skill set from Dad Does. He might be this year's hottest Christmas toy since he's "out of stock" at the moment everywhere and is going on e-bay for $500.

Needless to say, this is on my library wishlist. Imagine kids coming to visit Cozmo and he would recognize them and want to play ? He's the new allergy friendly library pet! TAKE MY MONEY!