Friday, March 7, 2014

Screen Printing!

I'm going to apologize in advance for the quality of the photos on this post---I was working quickly and with hands covered in stuff so I used my phone, and now I'm working on a sloooooow computer and so i'm forgoing editing!

For this project I'm starting with these instructions.  For the most part they worked fine, though there were once again a few things that were a little unclear.  Also I fudged some things to keep it cheap.

FIRSTLY:  I started out using the directions to make a screen with embroidery hoops and mesh fabric.  The instructions just say to buy mesh fabric, but when you get to the fabric store you'll see that there are a LOT OF OPTIONS.  I ended up purchasing something that was pretty much what you'd use for window sheers, and that worked OK.  If you could find something finer it would probably be better--there were some problems with too much ink getting through the screen and making things a little gloppy.

See? It works, but my attempts that did anything finer than a basic shape didn't come out very well.

While I was searching our supply closet for tote bags to practice on, I found an entire tub of printing supplies.  No one here has any idea where they came from or who bought them, but the tub included a bunch of pre stretched silk hoops!  Very similar to these: http://www.dickblick.com/items/63005-1003/

I decided to give those a try, and WOAH, way less hassle.  A little pricey, but the embroidery hoops were too.  I'll probably let the teens make one of each.

Step 1: decide what you want to make.  I made stencils with our diecuts and had some success with those, but of all my practice attempts (4 total), the freehand drawing turned out the best.
Here's my mysterious hoop of unknown provenance.  Where did you come from, hoop?
My narwhal went through a few different facial expressions before I got his essence right.  The drawing is on a piece of paper under the hoop.  NOW.  If your hoop has a bit of a lip to it, you want to put down the hoop in such a way that it is raised up a little.  Like, if it were a very shallow cup, you'd be putting it top down.  Is this making sense? Ok good.  Now you'll use your screen drawing fluid to drawn on your design.  IMPORTANT! You are drawing your design BACKWARDS. Mostly this isn't going to matter, but it will matter if you're using any letters. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES.

Here he is!

I cheated and did the lettering lightly on the wrong side of the screen, and then covered it from the correct side.  That worked out fine.


This is the BACK of the screen.  See how you can see the lip there?

Let it dry completely. This will take a few hours unless you want to bust out a hairdryer.  I left it overnight.  When it's dry, cover the whole thing (on the same side you put the drawing fluid on) with your screen filler.  It needs to be thick enough that all the holes are plugged, but be careful not to get too much on the drawing fluid or it runs a little. I didn't manage to get a photo of this step.  I used a piece of cardboard to spread it around, which worked fine--though try not to leave any streaks--aim for a nice even layer.

Let it dry again.  I'm doing this with the teens as a two part program--one day they will make the screens (we'll dry the drawing fluid with a hairdryer and then let the filler set overnight) and the second day they'll do the actual printing.  After your filler is dry (overnight), rinse the screen under cold water.  The drawing fluid magically rinses out, leaving just the screen filler.  On the real silk screens it did leave a bit of blue dye behind.


The rinsed screen! I will do this for the teens in the days between programs.  Make sure the water isn't hot--cold was best for me. Once it's dry, you're ready to print! Yay!

To print:

If you're printing on a bag or t-shirt, make sure to put some cardboard or paper inside so the ink doesn't leak through to the back.  Put your screen where you want it, this time so that it lays FLAT and the lip faces up. Glop a bit of your printing ink at the top, and pull it downward.  I'm trying to keep things cheap, so I used a pink rubber eraser instead of buying an expensive rubber squeegee, and it totally worked great. Be wary of using TOO MUCH ink, or it will seep outside the lines of your drawing.

 

Here's the back of my inky screen...

and here's the front.  You can rinse the ink out afterward, though I haven't tried re-using it yet.

And here's my amazing shirt! There are a couple of areas where it could have used a little more ink, but that just makes it look screen-printed, to me.

Shirts were on sale 4 for $10 at Michels, so I grabbed a few to practice on.  For the program, the teens are bringing their own shirts or whatever to print on.

Overall I think this will go pretty well with the teens, but I'm glad I gave myself plenty of time to practice! 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Teen Tech Project #1 : Solar Bugs

For the past few years, library makerspaces have become quite The Thing.  Unfortunately we don't all have the space, staff, or $$ that it takes to set something like that up as a permanent thing.   Starting with the current round of programming (we divide the year up into 3 newsletters, and plan things far in advance so that we can get them printed and out to residents), I'm doing at least one Teen Tech Project every time.  This was my first, and required a bit of self education.  I've never messed with electronics and things like that, but I'm glad to be learning!  For this project I had to learn to solder, which was very easy.

This is the project we did. Once again I found myself in a position where the instructions are written assuming a certain amount of prior knowledge that I didn't have.  For example, at one point it says you need "Scrap Wire...they can be anything".  Now, I know enough to know that PROBABLY there are at least a few things that wouldn't work.  But I don't know enough to know the difference between something that obviously WILL or obviously WON'T work.  So I'm going to break it down for you here in excruciating detail.

What You Need:


To make the Solar Bug function:

2v Solar Cells 
It looks like the seller I bought from doesn't have anymore, but the description should help you.  There aren't a lot of non-shady places to get these, most people I talked to said to use e-bay. I lucked out that this seller had them on Amazon.
Tiny Motors
Soldering iron and Solder (Ask your IT and facilities departments, they probably have these!)
Wire Cutters (again, IT and facilities)
Wire to connect the Motor to the Solar Cell (link goes to what I used, which is what he used in his instructions.  If you have a better knowledge of what counts as useable "scrap wire", use what you like!)

To make the solar bug into a creature:

Big paper clips, cut down with wire snips
Hot glue gun and glue sticks

totally optional:

Pipe Cleaners
Googly Eyes
Tiny Bells
Anything else you may want to add--though keep in mind you have to keep the solar panel uncovered!

 The Process:

Decide how much soldering you want the teens to do.  I decided "just a little" and so I did the first bit myself and had them do the less fiddly bit.

There exists a tool called a "helping hand" and if you have one, they look like they would be super helpful.  If you don't, you can totally rig a system of binder clips.  The first step is to solder your "scrap wire" or resistor (snip it apart from the thing in the middle so you have two plain wire pieces) to the motor. 

The quick-and-dirty of soldering is that you want to hold the hot tip of the soldering iron to your wire near where you want to solder two things together.  The heat will travel down the wire---you are NOT touching the solder to the soldering iron!  After 10-20 seconds, touch your solder to the wire, keeping the iron in place.  Does the solder melt? Great! Goop that all in there to hold things together.  If it doesn't, give it a few more seconds. It's important to keep contact between the iron and the wire, or else it will cool off and you start over.


Here's how I held things steady.  My first attempt included a clip torn from an old conference badge.


Both sides are in place and soldered!

I did this step for all of the motors, and then assembled kits for each teen that had all the basic parts:


Then the teens bent the wires so that they would touch the contact points of the solar cell (not seen above...they're on the underside).  We used binder clips for this too, along the long edge of the cell leaving plenty of wire exposed. Then you can lift the motor up a bit so that it has a little more room to turn. 

There you go!  At this point, take it outside to see if it works!  You will definitely know if it does.  I found that we needed direct, outdoor sunlight to make them go.

To make it into a jiggly creature, unbend the paperclip wire into legs and hot glue them to the bottom.  After that it's all a matter of personal taste.  This is my little practice bug:

He looks depressed. Probably wishes he were dancing!


From the side.

Here's a link to a video of mine moving

I liked adding googly eyes and bells because they add some movement and noise.  Some of my teens added things to the spinning part of the motor, so that their bots would have a tails that twirled!  So cute!  Here are some photos of their projects:







Friday, February 7, 2014

YALSA Hub Reading Challenge

I just found out about this via twitter, and made the snap decision to join in!  The goal is to read 25 books from a list of award winners that YALSA provides by June 22nd---I appreciate their having it wrap up around when Summer Reading starts and we all get too busy to do anything but run around crazily chasing teens with forms!

Weirdly, I've only read about 8 titles on the list, so this is proooobably a good idea.  With exceptions, I tend to dislike award winning books.  They tend to be the book  that everyone on the committee agrees is okay, as opposed to a book someone feels really passionately about.  When I was on the Thumbs Up!  Committee, that's exactly how it went.  Don't get me wrong, Hate List was great, but it was no Monstrumologist! 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Reading 2014

I'm not sure how many libraries do a Winter Reading program, but we do!  It was initially just for kids, but when I became the teenbrarian I expanded it to teens.  This year the adult librarians have gotten on board as well!

It is nowhere near as big as Summer Reading.  This is a much more chill (groan) program.  Last year the teens talked me into doing a bingo style form, similar to the kid form, but in practice they didn't really like it.   This year I'm back to my favorite style of contest; one hour of reading = one entry into a prize drawing.  I don't care at all what they read, and homework reading totally counts.  I like using a "time" based model, because an hour is an hour whether you read 10 pages or 100 in that time, so everyone is included no matter their reading level.

I pick prizes based on what I notice is popular, and this year it's Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Minecraft.  I also do a few generic prizes--one set of pretty nice art supplies, and a couple of Visa gift cards.


I recognize the wintery font is trying a little too hard, I just really like it!  Last year we had 49 teens participate.  I'm hoping to increase that quite a bit this year, but we'll see! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter Is Here!

Winter is here!  That means our new fiscal year has started and I can start programming with GUSTO again.  Fall is always a little sad, since most of my budget goes toward Summer Reading, and the kids are busy being back in school.  Now it's cold out and they're looking for things to do!

Today was Gingerbread House day.  This is a good example of adapting kid's programs for teens...you might assume they've grown out of gingerbread houses, but they definitely haven't.  I had a dozen teens--equally divided between boys and girls--here tonight with me.  This is another program that is as expensive as you want it to be--some years I've gone a little overboard at the bulk candy store, but this year I kept it pretty simple.  You can get graham crackers and frosting at Gordon Food Service, and they have a pretty good selection of candy too.  I bought Twizzlers, holiday M&Ms, small pretzel rods, gumdrops, and holiday candy corn.  I got a few kinds of sprinkles, and we have a lot around from past years too. 

I've found that frosting is NOT enough to hold the houses together, so for the past few years I've been hot-gluing them ahead of time.  Then all the teens have to do is decorate them.  They tend to eat the candy and socialize while decorating, so I've never had any real masterpieces come out of this event, but it is a GREAT time. 

Here's mine:


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Summer Reading Wrap Up 2013

I think enough time has passed that I'm ready to think about this party!

Instead of giving away junk prizes for the teen SRP, I give away grab bags that MOSTLY contain just candy, though some contain little junk prizes and gift cards.  The real prize though, is the invitation to the wrap-up party that every teen who completes the SRP gets.  It's the most expensive part of summer reading for me, and really the most expensive thing I do all year.  This year was my third year in a row of doing the SRP this way.  The first year was just a big party with LASER TAG, the second year had a Hunger Games theme, and this year I went with a circus/carnival theme.  The teens were encouraged to come in costume if they wished, and many did!  My teens are the best teens ever.  I'm including pictures, but since I will only use one where any teens are unidentifiable they are not always the best ones.  You get the idea, though!

Because we have outgrown the laser tag arena (we had it for the HG party, and each kid got to play ONCE for all of about 3 minutes. They loved it, but it costs about $1000 to rent, so I knew I could better spend the money) so this year I decided to rent 3 smaller/cheaper inflatables.  I got:

The Bungee Run:
In this game two kids put on harnesses and race to the end of the lanes, trying to slap their flag down as far as possible before they get pulled back.  Hilarious!

The Wrecking Ball:


They stand on pedestals and try to knock each other off with an inflatable wrecking ball (SO HILARIOUSLY hard just to stand up on the pedestal!)

The Fly Wall:

Pretty sure you've all seen this one before.  Way harder to do than it seems!


In addition to the inflatable games, I had a midway with carnival games.

Are you for real not going to let me rotate that, Blogger?  Well FINE, but I want everyone to know it's your fault.

I bought a bottle toss game and a tic-tac-toe game from Oriental Trading.  They were both way harder than they looked!  I also created a game called "Twilight Toss" where the teens threw suction cup balls at cardboard standups of Jacob and Edward.  They LOVED it, because they HATE Twilight!


When I was looking into renting carnival games (Don't do it!  Around here they were asking about $60 bucks for one evening.  You can make it yourself with a roll of red and white striped tablecloth and cheap stuff, and then you have it forever), I saw a PLINKO board and was immediately smitten.  I looked around the internets to see if I could find instructions to make one. I found them, but it was a little beyond my abilities.  I emailed our amazing facilities guy, and not only was he happy to make me one, he suggested improvements to the plans I sent him.  Mega thanks to Phil!

We plan on using this for all sorts of things at the library.  Can't decide where to go for lunch? LET PLINKO DECIDE!

They won candy and tickets by playing these games.

The tickets were entries into prize drawings. I had some leftover gift cards, and I gave them away this way.  The more they participated in the activities, the more chances they had to win Minecraft accounts and Barnes and Noble/Game Stop cards! It was a great incentive for them to keep playing the games, though they loved them anyway.

I also had a couple of games going upstairs--because I really think it's best to have A LOT going on at an event like this where there will be more than 100 teens in the building.  I bought giant inflatable bowling from OT, and made giant Jenga from the cardboard boxes some of our kid's SRP prizes had come in.






There were also a scavenger hunt, tarot readings, and I had Sing Star and Just Dance set up in our conference rooms.  Because I have a lot of friends who are involved in the circus arts, I hired a few to wander around juggling, making balloon animals, and just generally goofing off to create some atmosphere.  Anthony always had a crowd of girls around him, I can't imagine why!

Around 8PM anyone who wanted played a game of Sardines.   Toward the end of the evening I did the prize drawings, and then sent everyone home!  It was a great success, and I think we had about 140 attend this year.  A smaller crowd than last year (216!), but I think the Hunger Games theme drew in a LOT of teens.  I always want my programs to grow every year, but I'll be honest---I was okay with a smaller crowd!

The party went from 6 (closing time) until 9, and the library was closed to the general public.  I do not allow parents to attend teen events, but I had LOTS of adult volunteers--Staff members and friends of mine.  It all went very smoothly, no problems at all.

I have no idea what I'm going to do next year to top it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Welcome!

To anyone visiting from my MLA presentation...Hello!  I have a lot to write about this week once I get settled into my routine again-- I was on vacation last week, and the week before was a madhouse!  Posts about my teen SRP Wrap Up party and Zombie Night are coming up!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Minecraft Crafts

For the kids and teens of my area, Minecraft isn't just a videogame it's a way of life.  So this newsletter cycle I did Minecraft Crafts for teens, and because I'm nice I repeated the program for kids in third through fifth grades. 

There are tons of papercraft templates online, I trust you can google those yourself.  I had the inspired thought to also make awesome stuff out of Perler beads---those little beads you stick on a plastic template and then iron so they melt together.  I had the idea on my own, however it's something LOTS OF PEOPLE are doing.  They turned out great, and both the kids and teens managed to muster up the patience for such a finicky project because they REALLY wanted the resulting product.  I let them turn their creations into pins and keychains if they wanted.  Findings are pretty cheap at craft stores and it made their stuff more useful.  I had a great time at both programs.  I capped attendance at 20 and did it alone, though next time I'll have one of our adult volunteers come help.  I hadn't really considered how busy ironing I would be! 

The Minecraft perler stuff I found online was great but not quite what I needed for a room full of 20 kids/teens, so I made my own.  Feel free to use.  These make a nice size for pins or keychains when they are done. 








Dirt Block, Creeper Face, Pig Face, Wood Block.  Each square is one bead.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Minecraft, Part the Third

I'm still here, and mostly recovered from Summer Reading, which I'll have more to say about later.  Right now, though, let's talk crafting.

My server has been hosted in my boyfriend's basement for the past 6 months.  FINALLY everything is in place and I've just moved to a new server hosted from my library--which means instead of a string of nonsense, my teens now just have to use www.cmpl.org to log in (I'm clearly not an anonymous blogger).

I decided to take this opportunity for a fresh start, and just make a brand new server.  The steps are all the same as they were before, but now I'm really researching and adding anti-griefing software.  Those sixth grade boys, you guys.  They are destructive MONSTERS!  Right now my list of plugins is:

CreeperHeal
Essentials
WorldEdit
WorldGuard
libelulalogger

That last one is something new and untested, but the description sounds good and I can't wait to try it.  It says it can tell me exactly WHO messed with a block, which will help with the banning of the griefers! 

I'm most excited about World Guard, though.  As I get to know it I will post more about how it works and how I use it in the world.  I should be able to use it to make different zones, so that players who want PVP can have an arena for that, and people who want to build in peace can do that.  I'll let you know how it works out!

I've been getting LOTS and lots of  basic questions from people looking to start new servers, and my best advice is to just GO FOR IT and try things!  Also, for me it's important to regain a decent amount of control over the server.  Some people have trouble accessing theirs to try out different plugins and things, and I do so much tinkering that that would certainly not work for me!

Here's that first "How to Get Started" post, if that's where your server is right now!
http://teenbrarian.blogspot.com/2013/04/minecraaaaaft.html

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Duct Tape

When I presented at MLA last year, my co-presenter and I called it "Beyond Duct Tape: Programming for Today's Teens".   Really though, I have no beef with duct tape.  It remains a staple in my programming wheelhouse--a sentence that I'm not sure makes sense and which also makes me want to slap myself in the face.  ANYWAY!

I've found that teens need a lot more instruction than you would expect them to.  I always hope that they will just play and create and end up with awesome stuff, but their imaginations just don't seem to go that way.  I usually provide them with samples and instructions for roses and wallets, and this time around I had put in the newsletter that they could bring a t-shirt if they wanted to make a t-shirt bag.

While we did have a couple of reluctant ladies who I don't think ended up making anything other than a bit of a mess, most of the teens came well prepared this time around.  I'd only allocated an hour--next time I'll make it two.  They weren't ready to leave!  I let them stay over for about half an hour, but I had tickets to that night's Tiger's game so I had to kick them out eventually.

Lots of the instructions that I have used before haven't been detailed enough for teens who haven't done these kinds of projects before, so I drew my own.  Please admire my awesome skillz!