Spotlight Program: Builder’s Club: Tween Edition

At CMLE, we so enjoy all our different types of libraries, archives, and other members! Seeing all the work you are doing is so inspiring; and we want to return the favor by helping you to find some of the great programming going on around the profession.

Each week we will share an interesting program we find. It may inspire you to do exactly the same thing; or to try something related; or just to try out some different programming ideas. (Check out our podcast episode on Library Programming; you can tune in here! Or, of course, subscribe or stream to enjoy any of the episodes!)

S.H Horikawa – Star Strider Robot (スターストライダーロボット) – Front

Check out this great program, from Jess Gould, Youth Services Department Manager, East Hills Library, St. Joseph (Mo.) Public Library!

“Builder’s Club: Tween Edition is a hands-on, collaborative STEAM program for children ages 9 to 14. During each session, a library facilitator introduces a new topic for tweens to explore and practice.

The Builder’s Clubs were part of our summer reading program grant, so nearly all of the programs were planned months in advance.

Before writing the grant request, I spoke with a few local teachers and asked about STEAM materials and technology to which their students had access. From there, I developed a multi-week program that targeted areas of need and interest (computer coding, technical skills, circuits, etc.) and that were centered on the summer reading program theme of Build a Better World.

The Builder’s Club programs were designed to introduce basic STEAM concepts to young people and provide opportunities for local kids to gain exposure to fun, new technology. Our goal was to purchase materials that could be used for future programming within the library and during classroom visits to area elementary and junior high schools.

We planned for two versions of the Builder’s Club: one for intergenerational hands-on learning and the other for targeted skill-building within the tween demographic. (We consider fourth- to eighth-graders tweens.) The Tween Edition required pre-registration and focused on one skill or concept each week, whereas the Family Edition was a drop-in, free-for-all play session.

Tween Builder’s Club took place from 4 to 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month: June 8 (Keva Planks), June 22 (Snap Circuits), July 13 (Mouse Maze Challenge) and July 22 (Makey Makey). Due to popular demand, we added an additional program on August 10 (Cardboard Creations). Family Builder’s Club took place from 4 to 5 p.m. on first and third Thursdays.

Sign-up was for each individual week so kids could choose to attend programs that interested them, but we also accepted walk-ins if space allowed.

The set-up was varied as each program had a different theme and structure. For each event, a youth services librarian led the session and one teen volunteer (16- to 18-year-olds) assisted in helping participants and set-up/tear-down of the event. The volunteer arrived 30 to 45 minutes before the event and prepared the Makerspace for the program along with the librarian.

The KEVA Plank class consisted of the LEGOS, the KEVA set, ping pong balls, nonfiction books about architecture, and a flat, open area. The Snap Circuits sets come with educator instructions and project ideas, but we first created a circuit using paper clips, brads, a watch battery and an LED light. The Mouse Maze Challenge used the two maze sets and a blindfold. We used two laptops, some Play-Doh, two Makey Makey sets (we could have used three), aluminum foil, pencils and paper. Cardboard Creations required various scraps of cardboard and packaging, boxes, tubes, hot glue materials, duct tape and whatever other arts and crafts supplies we had laying around.

Unexpected challenge: The manager of the youth services department/program developer was injured in a car accident at the start of the summer reading program and was out on medical leave for the duration of the program. One of our newly hired part-time MLIS staff members was able to take the lead on the programs; it was helpful to have the program plans outlined and communicated prior to the start of summer. ”

Jess has included a lot of great information in the full blog, which you can find here.  Check it all out so you can see if this program will work for your library!

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