Our friends Monnee Tong and Uyen Tran at San Diego Public Library are the fearless teen (and tech!) advocates behind our series on the SDPL IDEA Lab. Today, Uyen shares the cool intergenerational programs. Enjoy! ~Erinn
by Uyen Tran
We did a lot of computer programming workshops at our San Diego Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common in February and March. In addition to our monthly Arduino Enthusiast Meetup, we partnered with a local organization, Kid Angel to offer a 5-week coding camp for kids and tweens. They were so popular among kids and adults that we had to set up a 3-week camp for the parents. In March, we celebrated the most perfect Pi Day in our lifetime (3.14.15) by teaching participants how to program a Raspberry Pi to solve a Rubik’s Cube with a RUKU Robot. In April, we will be hosting our first Robot Day at the library to Celebrate National Robotics Week. We will have companies, nonprofit organizations, and students bring in their robots to educate the public about how robots have impacted our society. In organizing the event, we started a weekly Robotics Club at our library where anyone can join in to help build or learn how to build a robot for the library. The brain of the robot was donated to us by a local company that sponsored our past Startup Weekend event.
I really enjoy teaching programming at the library. Like many believers of Code.org, I do believe that everyone can and should learn how to code. In the past year, our Central Library has offered a variety of coding classes. We taught everything from Scratch to Python to Arduino.
Arduino-related programs are by far one of my favorite maker programs at the library because there is a big community of people using the boards who are willing to volunteer their time to teach others how to program. I love community driven programs! Arduinos are also very affordable, making it very feasible for libraries to provide workshops. There are so many versions of them that they can fit any library’s budget and are tiny in size. They are popular among kids, adults, males, and females. So what’s an Arduino you ask? Check out this video for an explanation from Make.
For Valentine’s Day, we had our Intro to Electronics: Valentine’s Day Edition workshop where participants made a light up Valentine’s Day card. In the class, students learned how to program an AtTiny chip to control how the LED lights up. The entire project cost less than $3 a person and yet they were able to learn about Arduino programming, circuitry, and card making.
Almost all of our Arduino workshops are led by a professional teacher or engineer. They are all volunteers who either teach a workshop every quarter or lead a meetup once a month. For our monthly meetup, we usually get about 30 participants. For our workshops, we usually limit to 15 participants since they tend to be more hands on and participants must register to participate. We usually fill up within a week or two after we start taking reservations. For each of our workshops, we give an Arduino to every participant who needs one and encourage participants to assist each other.
If you are interested in hosting an Arduino program at your library, you should check out codebender.cc. It is a great site that was created by an Arduino instructor. He wanted an easy way to get students involved with Arduino programming without having to deal with all the issues that come with installing the Arduino IDE.
Stay tuned for our next post in June when our Teen Services Librarian, Monnee Tong, will be writing about our partnerships for the IDEA Lab and internship program.
- Connect with the IDEA Lab on Facebook (IDEA Lab at San Diego Public Library)
- Learn more about the SDPL Maker Lab.
- Check out all the posts in this series HERE.
Uyen Tran is the Emerging Technologies Librarian at San Diego Public Library – Central Library. She graduated from Florida State University with her MLIS in 2009 and is passionate about learning new technologies and all things making. As a maker and an organizer for Maker Faires in San Diego, she believes libraries can inspire individuals and empower communities by bringing people and technology together through programs that promote learning and making.Pin It