hacking, making, and coding at the library

Creation from ideaLAB toy hack
DPL staff member helping customer take his first steps with JavaScript Creation from ideaLAB toy hack - a moose strapped to a frisbee with LEDs. teen working on adding LEDs to toy A teen making an interactive holiday card with Scrath

Libraries have always been places where communities come together to learn. Most of that used to happen through print - as more and more of our lives are mediated by bits and circuits, libraries have made the shift as well, making emedia and online research tools readily available. 

A couple of our recent programs in the Community Technology Center and the ideaLAB are taking the next steps: helping people open up the tech they use everyday and see what's inside.

Denver Public Library's Community Technology Center was excited to participate in the Hour of Code, a nationwide program organized by Code.org to promote computer science education. We held our Hour of Code on December 14th, dividing our large classroom up into 5 zones, with a range of activities from newbie to expert. People were able to work in Scratch, Puzzlescript, JavaScript, and Processing, and there was even some fiddling around with an Arduino. Attendance was modest, but we're hoping to hold a lot more programming (HA! See what I did there?) like this in the future.

That same day, the ideaLAB held a toy hacking event, where we took a bunch of thrift store toys that had seen better days, took them apart, and made something better. Projects ranged from simple Frankenstein creations (Wonder Woman's head on an owl, anyone?) to toys with LED eyes and motorized, axe-wielding arms. In the end, teens learned some basics about building a circuit and, more importantly, learned how to look at the things around them in a new way.

We're looking at bringing more programming like this into the CTC and the ideaLAB in 2014. We'll be offering a JavaScript class in the spring. We'll be getting a 3D printer in the ideaLAB - maybe we could run a program on using SketchUp and print the results, or use the Cookie Caster and print our own cookie cutters. We'd like to start a regular hack night for adults, where people can drop in to work on projects and learn about coding, microprocessors, and anything else. We'd like to start a CoderDojo for young people. 

What kind of technology and maker programming would you like to see at DPL in 2014? Let us know in the comments. Would you be interested in helping out with or facilitating any sort of maker programming? Drop us a line at ctc@denverlibrary.org! Have a happy holiday and here's to an exciting new year!

 

Comments

When do you expect to get your 3D printer?

We'll have the 3D printer up and running by the time the ideaLAB expansion opens in spring of 2014 - though I'm hoping we get it sooner so I can play with it!

This is fantastic - thanks for offering these types of programs.

What a great way to make the Hour of Code program more tangible for kids and adults alike!

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