Tag Archives: transliteracy

Here they are learning about Photoshop

Creation Club

Creation Club is an after-school club for middle schoolers who are interested in digital creation. At the FFL we have a room called the Creation Lab. In this room there are three desktop computers (2 PC and 1 iMac). On them we have audio, video, image, photo editing, and 3D modeling software. You can also find cameras, iPads, microphones, a green screen wall, and various other odds and ends relating to digital content creation.

Creation Club meets twice a month after school. There are usually short instructional workshops on how to do or use something in the Creation Lab at the beginning of the meeting and then the teens are given the rest of the meeting time to experiment with this new knowledge. Since spring of 2012, Creation Club has created stop motion videos, photoshopped themselves into their favorite movies/computer games, created 3D models, recorded podcasts, created original videos, and wrote and recorded an original song.

Starting in February of 2014, we changed it up a bit away from the purely digital and delved into how digital designs can be transformed into physical objects. The first week of February began with learning how to use the vinyl cutter in the FFL Fab Lab to turn line art into a decal. We used an image editing program they were already familiar with from the photo editing workshops last year  to create original artwork. Following that were two weeks of exploring 3D design using 2D drawings and the FFL Fab Lab’s laser cutter, and then a whole series on video game design (by popular demand).

Gamestar MechanicTo learn about video game design, we used Gamestar Mechanic. They actually provide an excellent set of teacher resources with lesson plans, so you can just jump right in with the kids having no previous knowledge of game design. For four weeks, the Creation Club played games to learn about game design and then had a chance to build their own games and have their peers playtest them and give appropriate suggestions.

Creation Club is now on break for the summer, but I look forward to starting back up again in the fall with some new and interesting projects.

Training on the 3D Printer

Watching the 3D printer work.

Today at the FFL, the Fab Lab Task Force (aka the Fabtastic 4) learned how to print on the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic. We started with something really small and easy, just learning the basic process of turning it on and sending a design to the printer. We all poked around on Thingiverse, a kind of public repository for 3D models intended for use with the Makerbot 3D printers. Somebody found this design and we all decided it would be fun to print the One Ring.

The process, as I understand it, is as follows:

  1. Connect the Makerbot to the Computer.
  2. Open the ReplicatorG program.
  3. Turn on the Makerbot.
  4. Calibrate it.
  5. Heat the extruder head and build platform.
  6. Open the model and press print.
This is the ring we printed today as practice.

Ta-da! The model prints in shiny plastic and you have a new Thing. You can watch and listen to it print the ring here. When it is printing, the music being made changes depending on the shape of the thing being printed; circles, lines, diagonals, squares, etc. Halfway through the ring print, I realized that all four of us were just staring at the Makerbot. Watching the Makerbot work is like watching snow fall or gazing at a roaring fire. It just pulls you in so you can’t help but stare at it dumbly. We were all guilty of that today (as is evidenced by the photo you see above).

Our next [pre] Fab Lab Open House will be on Saturday, February 18th from 12-2pm and will involve all kinds of making things. And I do mean ALL kinds. Sure, the 3D printer will be there, but so will the juicer, the PS3 Supercomputer, duct tape, and more.

FFL FabLab

While doing my internship, I was honored to shadow Lauren Smedley, the FFL’s Transliteracy Development Director, on the reference desk. If you remember, she taught me about transliteracy at the time and told me a little about a project she is working on called the FFL Fab Lab. This year, I’m honored to be working alongside the other members of the FFL Fab Lab Task Force to introduce the Fab Lab to the library staff and the community at large. On Monday, I’m going to be trained on how to use the software that talks to our 3D printer (a MakerBot) so that we can begin to train the rest of the librarians and begin offering a new service to patrons: check out a librarian for an hour and print a Thingiverse thing! (of course that’s just my name for it, not the official name).

FFL Fab Lab MakerBot printing a cat toy.

Today Pete, Director of Teen Services and fellow FFL Fab Lab Task Force member, was testing out the software on one of our COWs (Computers On Wheels, a nice set of laptops in a rolling cabinet) to see if they would communicate with the MakerBot properly. Thusly, Pete decided to print a cat toy. On the left you can see the MakerBot in action. Many patrons who were in the library at the time and walked past Pete’s desk stopped to chat about the 3D printer and looked very excited when they learned they’d have a chance to try it next month at our next pre-Fab Lab open house on February 18th. The actual physical space that will become the FFL Fab Lab is being renovated and will not be ready for use until probably next year. In the meantime, we’re setting up the community room as a makeshift Fab Lab where patrons can come in and Make. More details to come later….

Cat toy printed by the FFL Fab Lab MakerBot.

The MakerBot prints the 3D objects in one print, so the ball within a ball cat toy is printed with the inner ball affixed to the outer ball by a thin layer of plastic. When it was done printing, I was able to pop the inner ball free using a screwdriver because it was the only thing narrow and hard enough to reach inside and exert enough pressure.

Since I have cats, I was given the honor of bringing the cat toy home with me and letting my kitties test out the printed toy. Darcy was a little wary at first, but she usually prefers toys that are attached to strings. Lizzy on the other hand, had a field day with her new toy (hence the blurry photos).

  

Internship Day 11

The Fayetteville Free Library has two reference desks, one in the front by the circulation desk and the adult collections and one in the back near the teen space and children’s area. Tonight was my first chance to shadow a librarian at the back reference desk. My librarian was Lauren, the Transliteracy Development Director. Lauren is the newest librarian to join the ranks at the FFL. I already knew Lauren pretty well from when she used to work on the circulation desk with me, but this was my first opportunity to learn about her new position.

First of all, what is transliteracy? Usually, people understand literacy as the ability to read and write. In order to learn, one had to be able to read, write, and think critically about printed text. Think of literacy as the means of encoding and decoding information. To transmit information by print, we must be able to transform information into letters (encode). To understand the information, we must be able to take the letters and draw from them the original information (decode). But then people began to develop new ways to communicate, new platforms for conversation and new ways to transmit information. These new technologies require a new set of skills beyond those of traditional literacy. Transliteracy is “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks,” (from transliteracy.com).

So, transliteracy is the ability to communicate information effectively through a range of means. Lauren made the point that Disney has been doing this for years. Take Alice in Wonderland, for example. You can read the original story, you can read the graphic novel, you can watch the animated movie, you can watch the live action movie, you can color the coloring book, you can listen to the music, you can play the video game, and you can go to Disney World and meet Alice. In all of these media, the same information is being transmitted.

In order to promote transliteracy in our area, Lauren is building a Fab Lab at the FFL. A fab lab, short for fabrication laboratory, is intended to empower the average person to evolve from an information consumer to an information creator. The FFL Fab Lab will have a 3D printer, computer stations, etc. Patrons will be able to take an idea and make it a reality learning new transliteracy skills along the way. For more info about fab labs, check out MIT’s Fab Central. For more information about transliteracy, check out the libraries and transliteracy blog.

When I wasn’t learning about transliteracy and the fab lab, I got to help Lauren with a tech-time appointment. That’s an appointment for a patron to get one-on-one help with technology. In this case, I got to answer a question about the maps app on the iPhone. I even taught Lauren a little. Oh yeah!

I can’t believe I’m almost a third of the way through my internship (47 of 150 hours)!

(reference internship hours completed: 26 of 75)