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Showing posts from 2014

Conversations with my Grandfather: A personal digital media lab story

This August will mark my grandfather's 90th birthday and I am fortunate to say that he is still in good health and sharp as a tack.  Now that I have a digital media lab at my fingertips, I decided it would be a good time to experiment with scanning his personal photographs and telling his story. Many friends this year have experienced personal loss and the one thing they all say is I wish I had more recordings of them: how they laughed or things they said (even with pets!). This has really stuck with me.  Not to mention,  I discovered that my mother lost my entire photograph album of growing up when I asked her for some "Throwback Thursday" Facebook photos. I should have scanned them long ago! How fragile a thing a photo album is! In the age before digital, especially the age of Polaroids that I grew up with, there aren't any back ups or iCloud servers.

I started going through every album my grandfather had trying to pick out key people and moments that I thought wo…

Electronic Holiday Cards Take 2

I was really excited to order my chibitronics set of LED stickers and effects.  Unfortunately it is not as cost effective as I had hoped ($50 for 10 kids to use 3 lights each plus 8 extra 3V batteries) but the stickers are much easier to use than actual LEDs alone and the diagram book is extremely helpful in mapping out your circuits. I've actually used their methods on other sewing projects I have previously posted.

For our one hour holiday card decorating program, I gave each student 3 LEDs. I had extra binder clips, batteries, (you only get 2 of each in the kit) and copper tape on hand. Unfortunately the effects stickers, which allowed the lights to blink, I ordered only came with 4 stickers for $19.99 so I kept them for a later time.

Like sewing, the circuit design is crucial. If I could go back and do this project over I wouldn't have put so much space between the positive LED branches and negative tape connecting to the slide. I also found that my positioning of the bat…

Creative Graphics Challenge we hope will spur use of Digital Media Lab

Sometimes people need an incentive to try something new or dig deeper into a familiar creative tool.

That's what we hope will happen when we announce the 2015 Creative Graphics Challenge this winter. We challenge our teen and adult patrons to come up with a marketing package for the Duxbury Free Library's event during April, National Poetry Month.

We are looking for original graphics: a brochure, a flyer, a web page mock up, some art that we can use on bookmarks, signs, etc.


Use our Adobe Creative Cloud Suite in our new Digital Media Lab and let your imagination go wild!

The deadline is February 28, 2015 so we can judge and start using the resulting winning graphics for our Poetry Campaign this winter!  What do you get?  You get the opportunity to put this competitive contest on your college brag sheet or work-related resumé.

So start your creative juices flowing!

Interested?
Sign up at the Reference Desk of the Duxbury Free Library.
You can download the information flyer fr…

Engineering and Girls

I recently received a hot tip at a workshop about GoldieBlox (thanks Sudbury!) for ages 4-9.  GoldieBlox sets include a story about Goldieblox and pieces to build your own themed project. You can follow along and build with the story or make something of your own. The pieces of each kit are interchangeable with other kits. The kits are $19.99 each and are sold online or at Toys'R'us.  They even had their own float this year in the Macy's Day Parade and a commercial spot at last year's Super Bowl.These could easily be circulated as kits and considered a library material! Plus the first page of the book (which includes the amount of materials with pictures and number of items in the kit) could be photocopied so the circulation staff knows what goes in it.

At first my hackles were up, these are just like "pink" Lego Friends for girls all over again! Why do girls need their own separate Legos? But think of the marketing, Goldieblox has her own doll and many of h…

More Fun with Conductive Thread

We recently finished a 3 day workshop on sewing with conductive thread for 5-8th graders.  The students made felt ornaments for the holiday season.  We used the adafruit electronic sewing kit for our supply list. One of our biggest hurdles was getting the kids to learn to sew (and having the patience for it!). Also, thinking about the stages of design before actually committing to sewing. How can the lights be arranged and still make the circuit work? (since the positive and negative sides can't cross).  What's the easiest place to put the battery holder? How does using a snap or button affect the circuit?

Tips: 
1. Begin by practicing threading a needle and perhaps work on different stitches (without conductive thread).  Ellen has this great stitch book that she made with another group a while back.
2. When you are setting up LEDs label positive and negative sides on felt or with tape
3. Might want to skip adding a switch for the first ornament
4. Make sure the needle fits th…

DIY Electronic Ugly Sweater Part 2

So you want to add more pizazz than just LED lights? See Part 1 for conductive thread tutorial. This is where littleBits, my favorite magnetic circuit toy, comes in handy.

Bits used: Button, bargraph, wire (2), power, servo motor, battery, plastic shoes and Velcro shoes.

Originally my idea was to make a felt waving snowman but when I actually tried to put it on the sweater, the arm waving failed miserably. The servo ended up on my shoulder (an easier place to hold the motor anyway).  The bargraph and button ended up underneath the 2nd circle on the snowman with a Velcro shoe to affix it to the sweater. I hand stitched the snowman around the major outline to keep all the bits from moving with regular thread.  No conductive thread is necessary for this part.

I bought the sweater at a thrift shop so I had no problem cutting holes into it to fish the servo motor underneath the sweater. The servo bit had a Velcro shoe attached with more Velcro sewed on the underside of the sweater to keep i…

DIY Electronic Ugly Sweater Part 1

The holiday season is upon us and that means it is time for Ugly Sweater Day on December 12th. If you're invited to a party or trying to outdo your co-workers to see who can come up with the best, why not try to electrify your masterpiece?

There are a few ways you could go:
  For my tree decoration, I decided to use conductive thread, felt, snaps, a 3V watch battery with holder and LEDs. We found all of these items in the Adafruit Candle LED bow kit that we recycled from a previous program. This is a project to directly sew onto any plain sweater (since the ugly sweaters have probably all been scooped up from the thrift stores by now) or make it a pin and not do any permanent damage to your sweater.  One downside to using a 3v battery holder, there is no on/off switch so I used a dark green felt piece for a snap to connect/disconnect the circuit.     I highly advise to plan out your conductive path and LED placement on paper beforehand. It's a bummer to hand sew an entire path…

A Digital Media Lab: finally the grownups get to play!

Building a Maker-style library requires that librarians educate the public about what can be done in libraries. As Bill Derry says in his speech, "Retinkering Libraries," people need to see the library as a place for creation, not just for consumption.

We are trying to do just that at the Duxbury Free Library - first by providing experiences for teens and children in STEAM activities and now for adults by creating a Digital Media Lab in the Reference Area.

It will be a place where the public can convert their family VHS tapes to digital files and DVDs.

Recording conversations, radio plays, poetry, prose, and publishing them as podcasts and on RSS feeds will be possible.  We will give people the tools and space to learn new software and the latest applications through multiple subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud and Lynda.com training videos.

We have to see Makerspace programming as highly individualistic if we want people to dig deeply into the new technology and platforms…

Extending Hour of Code to Ipads

Hour of Code, an international collaboration to promote computer science to kids and families of all ages begins on Monday December 8th and continues throughout the week. Using hourofcode.com, companies around the world offer tutorials for students to experiment with many coding programs and languages such as Scratch, Python, and more. Learn how to code JAVA, make an app video game, or an interactive Christmas card quickly and easily. Students who complete one hour of coding that week will receive a certificate (and in our library get a chance to enter a raffle for a free Game Stop gift card).  Kids can sign up for a free hour of code account to keep track of their time from year to year but it's not mandatory.  This week is a great opportunity for libraries to provide a drop-in exploratory program without the stress of learning or prepping all these platforms. There are multiple video tutorials on the site.  It is also a great collaboration between local schools and the library.…

Preschool Science wraps up its first session

It was hard at first to wrap my brain around doing a science based session of story times as a stay alone program for 10 4-5 yr olds for 30 minutes. In my 9 years of experience, I've never hosted a stay alone story time (crazy right?). How do I even begin? How messy should I get? What happens since I'm by myself trying to conduct experiments without parental help? What about food allergies? What kinds of questions do I ask? I decided that the whole session would be us pretending to be scientists, using their tools, and experimenting/observing a new theme each week.

One of my main concerns was organizing the flow. I like stations but it's hard to do that without more supervision so we tried to do as much as possible as a group first and then had a few choices to play with afterwards.

This was a great jumping off point for me from the Boston Children's Museum STEM Family Activity Guide & the Boston Children's Museum Sprouts.
Then I went to Pinterest for the re…

New companies offer alternatives to electronic card design

I'm very excited to try out Chibitronics, electronic circuit stickers to implement into our upcoming Holiday Electronic Card Tinkering Thursday this December. Many of the issues we had previously in our Mother's Day blog post should be rectified with these stickers providing a more stable solution.   With their easy tutorials, I learned that you should not rip but fold the tape down when turning corners to ensure a stronger connection with each circuit. No wonder they had such problems working previously! Not to mention our conductive tape role was over 2 inches wide. The opportunity for adhesive LEDs with tutorials for multiple circuit paths will provide easy instruction into multiple lights and even command them to blink. The stickers are reusable so kids will have a take home that can be used at least once more. The starter kit begins at $29 with a deluxe kit at $99 that includes effect and sensor stickers.  Some of you may have things at home and you can just purchase se…

Taking STEM Toys on the Road

This week as part of a Mass. Library Association Youth Services Section Workshop at the Turner Free Library, I took our popular STEM toys, Arduinos, littleBits, and Makey Makeys to offer local librarians hands on time with these products and to share my programming experiences. Noelle Boc from Tewksbury Public Library presented on her popular Hexbugs parties.
We also talked about iPad implementation and new marketing strategies. A link to all our handouts and presentations can be found soon on the YSS wiki. 

With the new emphasis on STEM programming, there aren't many opportunities to try before you buy with so many new businesses coming from Kickstarter and other start up internet based only companies. (Although a special announcement that littleBits will now be offered at select Radioshacks around the country.)   So librarians out there, be thinking about the toys that you have to share with your local librarian community to support and enhance their professional developmen…

Getting adults and girls in on the Arduino action

We finally invited adults to come discover the wonders and power of Arduino microprocessing kits. With his real life application story of using Arduinos in an industrial diagnostic setting, Bill Johnson added an urgency and interest level for the adults to consider. Getting familiar with Arduino and code is a ticket to an innovative job, he says.

Jess showed us her clever Halloween applications and then the teens went to work showing their parents just how the bread boards, code, and micro-processors work together. They ran through the blinking lights exercises pretty fast and moved directly into coding messages in their LCD panels. Whew!






















Halloween with Arduino

Arduino Halloween from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.


It wasn't easy but we were able to accomplish our 2 Halloween projects: an LED pumpkin and a talking motion sensor skull.  I'll go over each and things that we learned (aka what they sometimes to forget to tell you in the directions). Special thanks to Kevin Osborn for coming down to provide his expertise for the skull.  Also worth noting, Lynda.com also has great tutorials for beginner Arduino. This subscription is offered free of charge in our library and also if you are a librarian through the MBLC.

We started with the hardest one first, THE TALKING SKULL (Advanced)
*If you are just starting out I suggest doing the entire SIK CODE GUIDE book (comes with the Sparkfun Inventor's Kit) and if you're not ready to throw it out the window then try the Pumpkin*

Items required:
PIR Motion Sensor   $9.95
Sparkfun Inventors Kit  $99.95
Sparkfun MP3 Shield  $39.95
microsd card and micro SD reader (to put mp3s on it from computer…