Bots & Books: West Texas Training

Bots & Books: West Texas Training

This week we conducted our second training for year 2 of Bots & Books in San Angelo, Texas at the Tom Green County Library System.

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Another day packed to the brim with information, but our librarians were real troopers and made it through with a smile. This stuff can be intimidating and difficult for those who aren’t comfortable with technology or who haven’t played with Legos in a few decades.

Here are some of the cool builds we worked on!

Next week I will be speaking to another pocket of libraries in north east Texas about our fantastic Bots & Books grant! Only one more training to go!

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Bots & Books: Central Texas Training at the Round Rock Public Library

Bots & Books: Central Texas Training at the Round Rock Public Library

We had a wonderful first training at the Round Rock Public Library for this year’s Bots & Books grant. We have to cover a LOT of information in only one day so it can be overwhelming. But it is so great to see these librarians from libraries of different sizes with varying levels of experience with Legos and robotics tinker and have fun.

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Here are just a few of the builds we created.

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Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire!

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Showing off our Bots & Books Robots at the Temple Public Library

Showing off our Bots & Books Robots at the Temple Public Library

On Friday, September 25th I spent the day at the Temple Public Library in Temple, TX for the Connecting Texas Libraries Statewide Membership Meeting. Our afternoon workshop was a Technology Petting Zoo where we showcased some of the latest gadgets being used in libraries. I was asked to bring in some of our Bots & Books equipment and there was a lot of interest! Many libraries are asking to be included in year 3 of the grant and we only just started the 2nd! We are working on a way to create a Bots & Books workshop as a professional development workshop.

Such a wonderful problem to have!

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I showcased the WeDo Construction Set and created a book display to go along with the build.

Bots & Books, Year 2!

Bots & Books, Year 2!

Our new grant fiscal year started September 1st and I have been really busy getting the second year of the Bots & Books grant up and running! This grant allows CTLS to provide the equipment and training to help get public libraries all over Texas started with robotics programming for youth patrons.

STEM library programs are becoming so popular (and necessary!), but many librarians are intimidated by the word robotics. It is expensive to get into and there is a learning curve to the content. That is why CTLS created this grant. It helps libraries who don’t have the initial budget by providing all the equipment needed to begin. And we train librarians on how to use the equipment, provide them with ways to tie robotics to literacy, and consult with them on ways they can grow and sustain their robotics programs beyond our grant year.

By the end of this grant year I will have worked with 26 libraries all over the state! Here is a robot I built to show off at our upcoming CTLS Membership Meeting.

Not only is this programming important for small communities that may not have other avenues for this kind of experience for children, but it is yet another way for libraries to serve their communities. We can provide fun, informal educational experiences for our children and their families at not cost to them.

Man, I love my job!

Robotics at TXLA16 in Houston

Robotics at TXLA16 in Houston

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While I was sitting in a session on STEM programming at TXLA15, I jotted down ideas for a session dedicated to talking about robotics programming in public libraries that I hoped to present at the next TLA annual conference. I ended up developing it into a proposal and sought out individuals from public libraries in Texas with robust robotics programs to join a panel to talk about what they have been doing. I submitted my proposal… and waited.

I just got word that my proposal was picked up by the Young Adult Round Table and is going to be pitched to the conference planners at Annual Assembly in July! I should hear back then if the program proposal will be accepted and sponsored. Fingers crossed!

Bots & Books 2015: Wrapping up another quarter

Bots & Books 2015: Wrapping up another quarter

May closes out a very busy 3rd quarter for Bots & Books! Many libraries held camps during Spring Break and several had kick off events to tease their LEGO robotics kits for Summer Reading Program usage. Here are just a few of the wonderful images that are coming in!

The Smithville Public Library got some wonderful newspaper coverage of their Spring Break events!

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Smithville Public Library

Taylor Public Library patrons were lucky enough to have a big Maker Fair on March 17!

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Taylor Public Library

Harker Heights had a big turnout at their Build A Bot event on March 16.

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Harker Heights Public Library

And the Corpus Christi Public Library is working with local Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts groups!

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via Connecting Texas Libraries Statewide

‘Bots & Books: Using Robots to Talk About Books in Public Libraries

‘Bots & Books: Using Robots to Talk About Books in Public Libraries

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In September of last year I look over administering a grant called ‘Bots and Books which provides equipment and training for libraries to begin robotics programming. We purchased LEGO Robotics WeDo kits and laptops for the libraries. Four trainings were held in different areas of the state where we distributed the equipment and provided training on using and maintaining the LEGO kits. We also provided a book-based curriculum that creates challenges from popular children’s titles such as James and the Giant Peach and the Avengers to be solved using the robotics kits.

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I have been so proud to work on this grant. Robotics is growing so much in popularity and is a great way to increase access to STEM activities. Schools have been using these for a while but public libraries are really just beginning to realize how we can fill the STEM gap for our communities, too.

We are currently in the application process for year two and I am very hopeful! I also started writing up a proposal while sitting in a session at the TLA Annual Conference for a whole session on robotics for the 2016 conference. I hope we can bring together those libraries that already have robust robotics programs to educate others.