Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TweenStop is on Maternity Leave!

Our baby, Sophie Adrian, has arrived!  We'll be back with more 'tween programming ideas in January 2015.  Until then, let's hear it for the 'tweens!  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Make-It! Build an Antenna

Ready to play with tools?  We hosted an antenna-building workshop and gave 'tweens the chance to do just that.  Our goal was to transform wire coat hangers, wood, screws, washers, and small transformers into working television antennas.  We used these instructions.  I'll be the first to admit that this program was out of my comfort zone.  I know nothing about televisions or antennas or transformers.  Thankfully, I know how to follow directions, and I know how to ask for help.  I spent a lot of time doing both of these things in preparation for the program.  Ultimately, I was able to build a sample antenna that actually worked! 

We limited enrollment to 15 'tweens, and we asked each young builder to bring an adult to help.  Having the adult helpers was absolutely essential.  To my surprise, the program didn't fill up; we had a total of 6 kids, plus accompanying adults. 

In the spring, I contacted our local high school's technology education program to find a student to help me prepare for and facilitate this event.  I did this for a couple of reasons:  first of all, I'm having a baby, and the program was less than a month from my due date, so I wanted to be sure that if another staff member needed to step in, there would be someone on hand who was an "expert" on the project.  It's also nice to offer this type of opportunity to teens, and a lot of 'tweens eat up the chance to talk to teenagers. 

My very patient, project-oriented husband went with me to Home Depot for some serious supply shopping.  The high schooler and I generated our own step-by-step instructions and prepared materials by cutting and bending the wire hangers and marking the points on the wood where the screws would go.  The program itself was only an hour long, so having these steps done ahead of time meant that families could realistically finish the project before they left. 

As participants arrived, they picked up instructions, selected materials based on a list on the instruction sheets, and got to work building.  We had a small TV so they could try out their antennas, but because this program was held in the basement, we didn't get great reception.  Next time, I would have a try-out-your-new-antenna station on the main level of the library. 

The project was demanding enough to require the effort and attention of both child and adult, which meant that they had to work together, like it or not.  Of course, they liked it, and they were proud to leave the library with their newly built TV antennas!