Summer@HPL 2016

Our summer learning program, Summer@HPL, began on May 23rd and I have been busy putting into action a robust schedule of events for kids, teens, and their families. At the same I’ve been collaborating with a fabulous coworker, @hollyfromhomer, to get the Homer version of the Great Reading Adventure up and running. We’re piloting the digital platform for other libraries in the state of Alaska. More on that soon.

It’s been a busy Spring!

Summer@HPL headerOur program, based on the Collaborative Summer Library Program‘s theme of On Your Mark, Get Set… Read!, is focusing on the concept of “healthy minds, healthy bodies” and runs from the Monday after school gets out until the end of July. Many families spend the few weeks in August before school starts traveling, so I schedule our program during the first 10 weeks of summer vacation. It works well for us and keeps the library hopping, especially when summer reading families are combined with the many summer visitors and seasonal workers who base out of Homer (for commercial fishing, etc.) and use the library regularly.

Here are the programs I have planned for kids and teens. There is mix of inside/outside and high tech/low tech events to keep families active and engaged with the library, the community, and each other. The blend involves lots of opportunities to learn, create, and share, reflecting the needs and interests of local families.

A note on adults- My library does offer a year round reading challenge for adults that we will continue to market during the summer, but I haven’t planned any specific events for adults this year beyond the occasional author readings sponsored by the Friends. With limited resources, I had to decide where to focus what I’ve got. I’m concentrating efforts on intentional, whole family engagement at many of our kid events. I was inspired by the conversations I’ve been having with library and research friends across the country as part of the Libraries for the 21st Century: It’s A Family Thing learning community (sponsored by PLA and the Harvard Family Research Project).

EXPLORE Family Storytimes (weekly): In the summer I expand the preschool storytimes’ targeted audience and include 6 & 7 year olds. I do this for a couple of reasons. Siblings are more likely to tag along and feel included with this age range so families will return each week. We also don’t have the capacity to have a lot of separate programs for each age group and this helps include these kids in a very conspicuous way- they feel included.

We include traditional elements in the storytime and several activity stations instead of the one or two art and craft projects we offer in the Winter. These storytimes are advertised as STEAM-injected and many families respond to the STEM connection. The STEAM elements might include open-ended art projects, pint-sized engineering problems, using apps and other digital tech, and of course developmentally appropriate math (counting, patterns, and computational thinking).

In June we’ll be reading and playing with themes that include: bodies (humans, monsters and other animals), re-engineered fairy tales, simple machines, travel, and play.

Small Fry Toddler/Baby Storytimes (weekly): This is a 20-30 minute storytime for ages 2 and under and their caregivers. It is a program we offer year round, but we include it in the schedule events to help connect families with babies and toddlers in the library-wide effort. Check out some of my toddler/baby storytimes for a complete details.

Victoria Jamieson is on her way to Homer (and then Anchorage) as I write for a fun visit! We’re excited to have an amazing author/illustrator come to town, a rarity in Homer. She’ll do a program for younger kids around her book Olympig! (Dial Books, 2012), a timely tale that works well with the summer theme and the 2016 Olympic Games. In the afternoon, Victoria will lead a comic workshop for kids and teens ages 10-15. We have lots of Roller Girl (Dial Books, 2015) fans in Homer, even without a roller derby team.

Summer Maker Camp (weekly): Maker programs have been an annual summer feature for four years. We don’t have the physical space for a permanent makerspace, so we integrate a pop-up makerspace once a week and include the maker concept in many of our other other programs. We were able to expand on this popular summer series during the school year thanks to an ALSC Curiosity Creates grant and kids 8-15 are excited to hang out again. We’ll meet every Thursday starting later this month.

We’re focusing on game design (digital and board) in June and video in July to give everyone time to work on their projects instead of focusing on a new tool or skill each week. We had a chance to better understand how these young makers wanted to work over the school year and we think this will be a good fit.

To kick off the June maker sessions we’ll be Skyping with two different game designers so we can talk about what makes a great game and how games are made. We’ll chat with Brian Alspach of E-Line Media (one of the creators of Never Alone, a beautiful digital game made in partnership with Alaskan elders) and Jens Peter de Pedro of Little Frogs (a founding team member of Toca Boca and leader in the world of kids’ interactive media). I love connecting mentors and our community of young makers! Skype is our friend!

Yoga for Kids (series): We are teaming up with a local yoga instructor to offer a series of four one hour classes for 5-8 year olds. This ties in nicely with our program theme. many of our programs and events don’t require any registration, but this one does because of space.

Dog Jog (with the Kachemak Bay Running Club): We’ve teamed up with the local running club for an all ages 5K beach run during a particularly low tide. They club’s volunteers are adding a 1 mile route for Summer@HPL families to walk or run. Any families who participate will get a secret code to redeem in the reading log for a digital badge, one of many kids, teens, and adults can earn this summer. (Other secret codes are available at library programs and at city parks around town.)

Stone Soup Puppet Show: The Krambambuli Puppet Theatre will present a show and string puppet family workshop for ages 3-10. Our families love puppet shows, so we’re excited to offer not one, but two, puppet shows this summer and get kids making from a young age!

Teen Read What You Want Graphic Novel Book Club: Back for a second summer, this book club is casual! Teens ages 12-17 meet me at the library to talk about what they’re reading over pizza. The group isn’t huge, but it’s a good way to hang out and talk about books, movies and anything else on our minds.

Country Fried Puppet-Palooka: Our second puppet show will be presented by the zany puppeteers and storytellers at Mcmazing Tales who are visiting Alaska again this summer. The family show will be silly and Alaskans will recognize the puppet designs from the Moose: the Movie, created by Tundra Comics maker Chad Carpenter.

Movies: We’ll offer three movie showings at the library this summer. One for younger kids and their families and two for teens.

Scientific Illustration for Kids: National Geographic Kids author/illustrator Hannah Bonner will be visiting a friend in town and offered to be part of a program for kids ages 8-13 who love to draw and/or who are fascinated by dinosaurs and prehistoric life.

Roustabout Circus: An active summer has to include the circus! The Roustabout Circus duo is visiting Homer and making a stop at the library to entertain local families. Their shows and workshops are always a hit!

Pool Party: Instead of pool passes, this year were hosting a pool party for ages 11 and under (and their adults) at the community pool inside the local high school. Kids are SO excited for this event! Swim club kids even asked if I could make a special swim challenge at the event. We’ll have to give out tickets for this event, but we’ll include a lot of families.

Minecraft Challenge: We’ll be playing Minecraft with teens at the Chippewa River District Library! The four hour challenge is always exciting, and also a bit dramatic. This event brings a lot of kids and teens to the library that we rarely see at other summer program events.

2016 LEGO Contest: We are sponsoring the 6th annual LEGO contest this summer for kids and teens. We regularly get 50+ entries which we display at the library or a week. Local judges choose winners in three age categories and the public votes on a people’s choice winner.

Ice Cream Celebration: We conclude our summer program for kids with a big celebration that includes carnival type games, ice cream, and prize drawings. 

Becoming a Media Mentor

MediaMentor_FinalCVR.inddTo quote Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie, “We’re in a Book!”

Cen Campbell (LittleeLit) and I have been busy this winter. Sandwiched in between our day jobs, parenting, and what-not, we’ve been writing a book- Becoming a Media Mentor: A Guide for Working With Families! Cen and I created the cookbook of sorts on how to be a media mentor with the intention of continuing the conversation moved forward by the 2015 ALSC white paper, Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth, which we coauthored with our friends Amy Koester and Dorothy Stoltz. With 12 excellent examples of ‘media mentors in action,’ current research, and incites from experts inside libraryland and beyond, we’re hoping the book will help make it easier for children’s librarians and advocates to become, and see themselves as, media mentors.

The book is working its way through the publication process and should be ready for delivery in late August, although it is available in the ALA Editions Spring Catalog now. Stay tuned!

We look forward to hearing what you think of it!

Playaway Launchpad Review

On behalf of the Alaska State Library, I recently reviewed the Playaway Launchpad, a new pre-loaded Android tablet created by Findaway. I looked at both the device and the pre-loaded content, and considered how the Launchpad would compare to other digital access opportunities I provide for children in our public library setting. Specifically, I compared the physical tablet to the AWE pre-loaded touch screen computer, the iPad Air and a Kindle E-reader. I evaluated the content included on the tablet, 12 pre-loaded apps, individually using my app evaluation rubric in part because none of the apps in the You Auto Know! pack were reviewed by industry-respected sites like Children’s Technology Review, School Library Journal, Horn Book, etc. I have included my overall impressions of the device and the app pack.

Overall Impression: The cost of the Launchpad device initially makes Findaway’s program seem like an inexpensive way to provide young library patrons and their families with access to digital media. The device was simple to use and seemed sturdy, however the content I reviewed was mediocre and comparatively expensive, diminishing the overall effectiveness of the device. The idea of predetermined app collections may appeal to some librarians and library staff who are new to curating apps and digital media, but the specific apps in the app pack I reviewed did not include any “award winning” or “best-selling” apps, as advertised. (This may be because the content is limited to apps available for the Android platform, for which only a limited number of quality apps, and apps in general, have been so far developed.) Without high quality, engaging content that encourages repeated use and helps grow readers and lifelong learners, a device for young children has limited value in the library setting.

Physical Device
Case
+ The sturdy rubber case is rounded and not as slippery as the device itself, potentially reducing breakage from being dropped or banged. The bright orange color will make it easy to find.

7” size
+The small tablet size makes the tablet easy for small hands to hold (similar to iPad mini or Kindle E-reader size.)
-The small size may make it difficult to share the screen. When two or more users can easily share the screen and explore together, joint media engagement is more likely to occur.

Cost
$99.99-$149.99, avg. cost $119.99, according to Findaway rep. (compared with $249-379 for iPad mini)

No wifi access
+ No access to wifi helps prevent unintentional access to inappropriate digital content.
– No access to wifi could limit flexibility of device, restricting use to a specific audience, certain activities, and Findaway content.

No camera
+ Without a camera, the device will not store images of children using the device, helping to protect users’ privacy.
– Many high quality kids’ apps creatively incorporate the device’s camera into apps, increasing engagement and helping kids express themselves. Without the camera, potential content is more limited.

Battery
-The charging time is long if device is being used while being charged.
-The back of the device (which may be touching a young child’s lap) gets hot when the device is awake for extended periods of time (for example, 1 hour).
-When plugged in, the device will only go to sleep when the power button is tapped, using battery unnecessarily and creating the heat mentioned above.

Settings
+/-There are no accessible user settings for the device itself, beyond the reset option and avatar creation. Settings only exist within the individual apps and these settings vary in location, number and type. Limiting the device settings simplifies the user experience initially, but may confuse users as they navigate each app and attempt to adjust settings as they explore.
+The device includes a reset button on the home screen and supports
multiple users (with customizable avatars). The device would be easy to rest after individual checkouts if circulating outside the library or each day for in-library use.
+/-Using the device immediately requires that a child select and decorate an avatar. Many children will enjoy this element, but the avatar is isolated from the play experience within each app.

Statistics
+Some stats are available from the home screen (Play Graph shows how
many sessions and if those sessions focused on English language Arts, Math, Critical Thinking, Science, Language Learning or Creativity. The Most Played apps will also appear.)

Content (Apps):
The tablet I reviewed came with the preloaded You Auto Know! app pack which includes 12 transportation themed game/toy apps. (The apps are widely available on Google Play, and in some cases Amazon Android.)
Cost of app pack (at time of review): $119.99 (avg cost per app is $9.99)
Intended audience: 3-5 years

App Overview:
The app pack includes game/toy apps (no story/book apps) which, in general, are of average or below average quality in overall design compared with the gold standard in the world of children’s apps. While the apps are technically sound and were all in-app ad and purchase free, the graphics in some cases are uninspired and many of them had only limited interactive features or elements that inspire kids, or kids and caregivers, to play together (for example multi-touch). Some apps do support STEM and some offer limited opportunities to use critical thinking skills, but their support of early literacy skills & practices (reading, singing, talking, playing and writing) is limited compared with other apps on the market. Most apps focused on earning points and a competitive format instead of the sandbox style play that is more likely to inspire creativity, imagination and exploration. (Pango Imaginary Car is an exception.) In fact the device itself is designed with a point system and opening certain apps rewards the user with “discovery points” which can be used to buy accessories for the user’s avatar. Some children may focus more on the point system than the actual app experience.
While the device thoughtfully offers users the opportunity to create an avatar that reflects their ethnic or cultural identity, and even their general individuality, these apps were all English language only apps and do not include opportunities to record narration, another way to support home languages.
Librarians are skilled curators of content, but this device’s model prevents librarians from selecting individual apps, like Pango Imaginary Car for example, for use by families and their young children and there is no way to hide unwanted apps or focus children’s attention on a specific app, as is the case with the AWE computer. In fact some of the Launchpad literature cites “No librarian research or app expertise required” as one of it selling points. As media mentors, children’s librarians should in fact research and understand all media they offer in the library or for circulation at home. Librarians are experienced curators and with some training, can easily apply their selection skills from print media to the world of digital content.

Family Storytime: Heroes, Flight & Gravity

This summer, we’re celebrating heroes in our summer learning program along with many libraries across the US. It’s quite a fun theme because it incorporates superheroes and comics on the one hand while also providing a great backdrop on which to celebrate the hero within. Many of the books and ideas I plan to share this summer during storytime will encourage kids to do great things. This week was no different.

I have been using letter cards at the beginning of storytime as a welcome activity to support letter recognition, to get kids physically stretching, and to break the ice, so to speak. My pack of letters has 26 cards (plus some duplicates) and each one has an uppercase letter and the picture of a child forming the shape of the letter with their body. I keep the cards in a bag and, one at a time, kids pull out the first card they touch. I hold it up so all can see and we say the letter’s name and then make the shape with our bodies. The cards include a diverse group of kids which I appreciate.

This week I decided to only have the letters that spell AIRPLANE in the bag. After we played the game, I organized the letters into the word as a hint for the storytime theme. I was glad that I simplified things because kids kept pouring into the room and I never would have had enough letter cards for everyone to pick a letter. Frankly, we would have been there all day playing just this one game if we went through the entire alphabet. During some storytimes in the Winter I can get away with every child who arrives at the start picking a letter because the crowds are smaller, but not in the Summer.

Once everyone was settled down on their storytime mat (with a little help from the song If You’re ready for a Story), it was time to read.

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen (Photo source: Zoobean.com)

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen (Photo source: Zoobean.com)

I recently came across the book Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen (Dial Books, 2008) and knew I had to read it at storytime for a couple of reasons:

  • Violet is a “maker” and designs her own airplane,
  • She stands up to bullies,
  • Her parents support her creative passion,
  • The story has several historical references to innovators, and
  • She is recognized as a hero when she rescues a group of boy scouts stranded in a river instead of competing in the airplane competition she was headed to when she discovered them.

The book also gave me a great opportunity to talk about flight and gravity, the focus of this storytime. Too technical for storytime and the 3-7 year olds who attend, you say? No way! I infuse STEAM in my storytimes every week and have found that breaking down big concepts, like flight or electricity, into bite size pieces can work. Kids may not be ready for rocket science, but everyone starts somewhere. Why not at the library storytime? We do that with reading, why not with science, technology, engineering, art and math?

Before I shared this book, I asked the group what we needed to fly. I was delighted when a girl said “lift and thrust.” The adults were blown away! Over the course of storytime I explained the ideas and what parts of a plane handle lift and thrust using the two books I read, the books’ illustrations and the experiments we did in the second half of storytime.

One thing I would do differently if I wrote this book is make sure the boy scouts are wearing life jackets in the rescue illustration. Drowning is a significant problem in Alaska (many families spent a lot of time on the water) and we are always driving home the idea that everyone needs to wear a life jacket when they are on a boat or dock (young kids). I took a moment to talk about life jackets when we got to that part of the story, but it would be nice to have the book model this important practice.

Kids were wiggly by the time I was finished with Violet’s story, perhaps in part to the large number of people, so we got moving. I had my phone and a portable speaker on hand with the storytime playlist ready to go. I also had my collection of shakers to use with Laurie Berkner’s The Airplane Song. I actually ran out of shakers for the first time ever, but the kids without them handled it well. The song is full of action and the movements work with or without shakers.

Flight School by Lita Judge Photo Source: simonandschuster.com

Flight School by Lita Judge Photo Source: simonandschuster.com

We then read Flight School by Lita Judge (Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2014). It’s the story of a penguin who desperately wants to fly, but can’t so he goes to flight school. While his body is meant for swimming and he can’t get airborne on his own, the other students get him off the ground, demonstrating heroism on a smaller scale and helping penguin fulfill a lifelong dream.

Time for experiments! I like to refer to this storytime as Physics for Preschoolers.

Boy, did I miss my summer assistant this week! With three stations going and over 60 people, I could have used an extra hand. She is on vacation so we made do without her…just barely. Designing multiple stations lets me offer a variety of activities and most kids will find at least one that appeals to them. It also helps to spread out the crowd a bit.

Gravity Painting

Station: Gravity Painting
I love painting during storytime. I can handle the mess and so can the families who come. Kids know to wash their hands as soon as they are done at the painting tables (there is a sink in the kids’ room) and caregivers often help clean up. I make t-shirts available, but they never get used. I stick with washable tempura paints to make things easy. Gravity painting was an easy leap for me. I modified a project I found at the Artful Parent, a great place to find ideas that can be adapted for storytime.

Gravity Painting ExampleBefore storytime, I built 12 stands for this activity. I used aluminum trays I have stored away and book ends. I taped the back of the tray to the book end to keep them upright. To paint, kids used eyedroppers to suction watered down tempura paint out of bowls on the tables and then squeezed it on to the 1/2 sheet of cardstock paper in the upright tray. The paint slides down the paper, thanks to gravity, and creates beautiful designs. Some families taped the paper in the tray until painting was complete. We talked about gravity in a very basic sense, remembering again, that we’re introducing big ideas in bite sized pieces.

Materials:

  • aluminum roasting trays (1 per painter)
  • tempura paints in various colors (I had 4 colors at each table)
  • eyedroppers (1 per color)
  • bowls or containers for paint
  • book ends (1 for each tray)
  • packing tape (to attach tray to book end)
  • white cardstock (1/2 sheet)
  • pencil (for writing names on paper before painting)

Straw paper airplaneStation: Straw Paper Airplanes
We’ve made these airplanes at the library before and I love them. They seem ridiculous, but always fly. I got the idea from the DIY Network. The materials are minimal and I have a nice spot for creating an airstrip where kids can measure how far their play goes and practice throwing the plane. Some kids ended up adding wings and other decorative pieces and then tried to fly them again. Pretty cool.

Airstrip

Airstrip

Materials:

  • Paper straw
  • 1″ x 10″ strip of cardstock for large circle (plane’s tail)
  • 1″ x 5″ strip of cardstock for small circle (plane’s nose)
  • Scotch tape (to attach circles to straw)
  • Blue painters’ tape for marking distances on carpet airstrip

Balloon PlaneStation: Balloon Planes
I spent the most time at this station since it it was the least self-explanatory. I used a similar experiment at a Maker Monday: Forces of Flight program for older kids last summer and thought it would be fun to show the younger kids. it was a hit! The idea is that a blown up balloon provides the thrust to push the straw it is attached to along a string. One end of the string is tied to a chair  and I held the other end. Kids or adults blew up balloons and we taped them to the straw. I talked to them about Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion and explained that the air escaping the inflated, but untied balloon would cause the balloon to go in the opposite direction. This helped them position the balloon with the tail towards me and the round, or top part of the balloon, int he direction they wanted it to go- towards the chair. I held the one end of the string so we could see if holding the string up higher or lower changed the speed at which the balloon and start traveled. Many kids tried this experiment over and over. Here is the balloon airplane in action.

Materials:

  • Paper Straw
  • String (like kite string)
  • Scotch tape
  • Balloons
  • Chair
Robot Factory by Tinybop

The Robot Factory by Tinybop (Photo Source: tinybop.com)

As a nice compliment to the storytime activities, we offered the app The Robot Factory by Tinybop on our children’s library mounted iPad. While the app isn’t useful during storytime, it’s a nice sandbox style app that extends the tinkering and learning we did during storytime. The app was available throughout the week. (For more about my library’s mounted iPad and the curated apps I feature see this related post.)

The Robot Factory app is a design studio for young inventors & lets kids build robots from more than 50 parts that can be placed on a robot body in a variety of configurations. Once the robot is built, inventors can test the creation & its physics-driven movements. The design can then be modified as needed or added to a robot gallery. Individual profiles can be created for multiple builders. The app includes a parent dashboard w/tips & settings. :: $2.99 :: For ages 5+. (Source: Homer Public Library’s Kids App of the Week Pinterest Board)

Hour of Code: Coding for Girls

Intro to Coding for GirlsOn Saturday, I hosted a program which was part of the International Hour of Code Week (aka Computer Science Week) at my library. If you didn’t host a coding program during the celebratory week, or haven’t ever, I highly suggest you do it this week, next week or any time. The tools built for the event are available year round. Here’s why you should join the movement to get kids coding: The program combined kid appeal and learning of valuable computer skills, as well as motivated kids to create, not just consume, digital media in an informal learning environment. In less than two hours, kids were creating their own digital stories, images or tools. On top of all that, it was just plain fun.

I’ve hosted several tech related programs at our library and I regularly integrate digital media into others, even storytime. So, a coding program was a natural next step. The smart people involved with the Hour of Code make the process of introducing the concept of coding to kids pretty simple so I had the tools I needed. But how would I customize my program to meet the needs of 8-12 year old kids in my community?

I started by looking at who attended the tech programs at our library, at local schools and around town. What was already out there? What did kids want? What kids were already getting access to essential computer science (not just digital literacy) skills? What was missing? Where were the gaps? After doing some research, I started also asking where are the girls?

While the Digital Divide in terms of access is decreasing in many parts of the US, thanks in part to digital media in schools and libraries, the digital divide in terms of participation (also known as the participation or opportunity gap) is wide. (Daugherty, 2014) The participation gap involves knowing how to use the digital tool effectively to participate in, and define, our digital world.

Nationwide, girls are significantly underrepresented in Computer Science education and IT jobs. Locally, the situation is similar. Few girlsparticipate in tech-specific programs at the library and in local schools in any great numbers (outside of events sponsored by the Girl Scouts), yet knowing how to code opens up many more opportunities to create, learn, build and participate. They do however come to other programs at the library in large numbers. I had a gut feeling about why there was such a difference in girls’  attendance at the different types of programs, but I decided to do some research. After all, I wanted girls to come to the program, and more importantly, get a taste of coding and what they could do with it. After all, diversity fosters innovation.

The Research
I found excellent research results in the report, Girls in IT: The Facts, created by the National Center for Women and Information Technology and funded in part by the National Science Foundation. I also found the Made With Code site, part of the Google Initiative to create opportunities that inspire girls to code and explore Computer Science. The report Google published, Women Who Choose Computer Science- What Really Matters, discusses what influences girls who choose to learn about coding and pursue Computer Science.

Designing a Program for Girls
At the library we try to offer programs for everyone. We host storytimes for preschoolers, sponsor events for teens, coordinate an adult book club, lead a LEGO club for kids 7-12, share stories and crafts with remote neighbors in our outreach storytimes and deliver books to homebound patrons. We both design programs for our regular patrons and those who are infrequent or first time visitors. I like to think of this as providing equal access to information while also providing equitable service. Each patron needs something a bit different. I saw the girls coding program as one of many ways we connect community members with information.

There were some fundamental decisions I made to attract girls to this program.

  • Made the program for girls only so no girl was the “only girl” (along with an adult they wanted to bring to encourage joint media engagement and get adults coding too)
  • Lead the program myself, a female mentor
  • Featured nontraditional coding tutorials that include girl characters and female mentors
  • Paired girls together so the learning process was collaborative
  • Created a lab type of environment so each team could work at their own pace and have several opportunities to explore a tool deeply or move to another one, depending on their interest and expertise
  • Fostered the social aspect of the program- the opening activity we did together got girls talking and gave everyone a chance to to get to know each other in a fun way

Yes, most of these individual program elements could easily apply to any program, and will when I repeat the Intro to Coding program for boys and girls in February. But, in combination, it created a program environment that research shows makes girls feel more comfortable and supported so I decided to try it.

The Program: Made w/Code: Intro to Coding for Girls

Equipment
While I led the program myself, I definitely needed help from the intrepid IT department and a couple of coworkers. I also needed quite a list of equipment for the event and things like secure wifi in the room we were using for faster access.

  • Laptop and large monitor for viewing initial mentor videos
  • Supplies for making peanut butter and jelly sandwich (see below)
  • 10 iPads with Hour of Code apps preloaded (App List: Intro to Coding for Girls Program Tools)
  • 5 laptops
  • Router for boosted wifi to run tutorials
  • Splitters and headphones (1 splitter and 2 headsets for each computer)
  • Take home sheets with coding resources
  • Paper and pencils for writing notes
  • Snacks

Program Plan (2 hours)

  • Introductions (5 min)
  • What is Coding/Programming (5 min)
  • Why a Program for Girls (5 min)
  • P, B & J- Coding Unplugged* (10 min)
  • Nontraditional Mentors/ Coding and the Arts: Made w/Code video about Miral Kotb & ILuminate (see video above) (5 min)
  • Tutorials from the Hour of Code: Frozen or Angry Birds (in teams) (45-60 min)
  • Break (5-10 min)
  • Coding Apps (5 min intro)
  • Free Time (15 min)
  • Share-What the Girls Had to Say (5 min)
  • Clean Up

*To better explain the concept of programming and demonstrate what code is, I pretended to be a highly evolved robot that they would program to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, based on this classic lesson plan. I laid out the supplies in front of me (jar of peanut butter, jar of jelly, bag of sliced bread, knife, plate) and then had the girls tell me what to do- the very specific instructions that make up a program. There were times when I obviously didn’t understand and they had to debug the program. It was hilarious and effective!

What the Girls Had to Say
9 girls and 4 adults attended the program- the perfect number. I didn’t have girls pre-register and it turned out to be the right fit anyway. The next program will require registration and I’ll target the same number because I’ll be leading the program solo again. Here are some of the comments girls had for me:

  • When is the next program?
  • The dance video with all of the lights was cool!
  • I don’t get to play on an iPad. I loved the apps and getting to play the app I wanted.
  • I liked the variety of apps and tutorials, so we all found something we liked.
  • The Peanut Butter & Jelly game was fun!

My Thoughts
The program went very well in general. The group was the right size and the girls meshed well. They were comfortable together. It was wonderful to see parents and grandparents learning and exploring alongside their girls. I loved the cooperative spirit and the real interest the girls had, several of whom I had never seen at a library program before.

My biggest issues? They were technology-related, of course right? Some of the issues can be fixed for next time, some are issues with Alaska’s broadband. Having unplugged tricks up my sleeve was very helpful.

Community Response
This article about the program appeared in a local paper.

I co-presented this webinar, Hour of Code: All Year Long, for Alaskan librarians interested in finding out about the Hour of Code and the Intro to Coding for Girls program at our library.

While we received a lot of interest in and positive comments about the program, one parent contacted me to complain that her son could not attend and challenged my decision to hold a girls only program. In all regards, the program created lots of conversation in the community.

 

Daugherty, Lindsay, Dossani, Rafiq, Johnson, Erin-Elizabeth, and Oguz, Mustafa. “Using Early Childhood Education to Bridge the Digital Divide.” Rand Corporation.  2014. accessed at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE119.html