Teen Tech Week Grant Winner: Kristen Curé and LuCinda Gustavson, Springfield Public Library

Name & Name of Library: Kristen Curé and LuCinda Gustavson, Springfield Public Library, Springfield, Oregon

Project Name: Raspberry Pi Day

Project Description: Raspberry Pi Day will be a hands-on workshop for teens to learn about computer science, coding and get a chance to create their own computer programs using Raspberry Pi and Makey-Makey. This will be the first in a series of monthly workshops for teens. This summer, we also hope to have the teens give workshops for younger patrons.

1.) Why did you choose this particular project?

We saw an article in School Library Journal (Aug. 2013) called Life with Raspberry Pi by Chad Sansing. We thought it would be so cool to have a program like that for our teens. Most of our teen programming has been crafty things and showing movies, but we feel it is so important, especially in our community, to offer programs that teach practical skills and get kids enthusiastic about their futures. When we started to investigate the possibility of creating a Raspberry Pi program, we realized we simply could not afford enough kits to make it happen. So, we started looking for some way to get the funds.

2.) Why do you think it will be a success with your patrons?

At the library system where Kristen worked previously, she ran a successful, ongoing program where teens had the opportunity to explore Scratch, Audacity and other creative digital technology to make something of their own and then teach other teens. Until now, we haven’t offered something like this in Springfield and we see that there is a community interest in such a program. When the Teen Advisory Board found out we were buying Raspberry Pi computers, they were very excited. They immediately wanted to check out the books we had and start planning projects. One girl said, “I want to do this all day,” and they all want to make this an ongoing program. The technology teacher at the local high school is also very interested in promoting this program with her students.

3.) How will this money help make your program an even bigger success?

This money makes our program possible. Without this money, our Teen Tech Week would have been devoid of technology. With this money we are able to put computers in the hands of kids and get them excited about computer science. We are also able to change the direction of our teen services by providing opportunities to learn skills that are important for the future.

4.) What elements, in your opinion, make a successful Teen Tech Week program?

We think that a successful Teen Tech Week program introduces teens to something new (or to a new way of using a known technology). Also, a successful program should engage teens in a way that invites them to be a part of the planning process as well as offer opportunities for problem solving and creativity. LuCinda has included the Teen Advisory Board in the planning of our Raspberry Pi Day. The TAB will have the opportunity to work with the technology ahead of time, create projects and then teach other teens at the Teen Tech Week Raspberry Pi Day event.

5.) What successes are you having with digital tools in your library? Challenges?

Many of our teen patrons depend on the library for computer and internet time. However, beyond the four computers we have in our teen area, we have very few digital tools to offer them. The challenge with Teen Tech Week is providing the technology. If we want to have a “techy” program, we need to provide the “tech”. Unfortunately, the library also has very limited resources.

6.) Overall, how important is Teen Tech Week to your patrons and your library?

Teen Tech Week has been rather low key at our library. We usually do passive programming, such as quizzes and contests. We are very excited to be able take it to the next level and give the kids a hands-on tech experience.

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