Tinker with Technology – Terrific!

Tinker Group ArtBots

Tinker Group ArtBots

I’m back in the library and finally able to share with you the highlight of Friday at the Public Library Association Conference, (well, besides hearing David Sedaris at his snarkiest) the Tinker with Technology presentation by Tinker Group.  Tinker Group is a networking group of librarians who work with technology, kids and teens.  They are youth librarians at several Chicago libraries who originally thought they were alone in their efforts to bring technology to their younger patrons.  Now they are a group that meets once a month in-person to share ideas and projects as well as online through their blog Tinker.  They describe their philosophy of learning as “open-ended, self-directed learning through play.”  Bingo!

The only difference is the resources – theirs always involve technology.  I am certainly happy that this is their focus, as my steep learning curve is certainly one of the main reasons that I am seeking to gain wisdom from those who are more experienced and/or more tech-blessed than I.

The presenters provided detailed information regarding three different themes:  Animation & Film Making, Robotics, and Art Meets Tech.  Want the details?  The stop motion animation tutorial is available on their blog, Tinker.  The handouts for all of the three themes are available at the PLA website here – search for the program entitled Tinker with Technology: Simple and Creative Programs for Kids and Teens that was presented on Friday, March 14th at 10:45 a.m.  Suggestion – download the handouts now as I’m not sure how long this link will be active.

Resources that were new to me?  (And yes, I will be updating the Resources and Equipment pages soon. Soon is a relative construct, by the way.)

  • Lego WeDo.  The younger version of Lego Mindstorms.  Cheaper and easier than the regular version of Lego Mindstorms, says Robotics guru Mike.  Programmable with either Lego software or Scratch (which we have already introduced to kids last summer in our computer lab).
  • Pencil Animation software.  Katy tells us no, really, it is software.  No actual pencils involved.
  • LongExpo – App available on iTunes that allows for taking digital photos with long exposures and light trail effects.  And Janet promises it’s easy.

But one of the best ideas was their suggestion to introduce some of this technology play time to staff at our next in-service.  It wouldn’t be boring!

About Tracee Yawger

Head of Children's Services, Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library
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