Teen Tech Week takes place the week of March 8-14, 2015. This national event, held annually in March, was initiated in 2007 by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association). This year’s theme is “Libraries are for making…” and, in keeping with the purpose of the initiative, is aimed at creating awareness of the competent and ethical use of digital media, including e-books, e-readers, databases, audiobooks and social media.

Planning for Teen Tech Week

Teen Tech Week

At teentechweek.ning.com, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions and can watch archived recordings of informative webinars. Several activities you can participate in require very little prep or technical expertise. One is to have your students join the Hour of Code movement, which provides one-hour tutorials on coding for everyone from ages 4-104, no experience needed. (Also see the October 2014 NJEA Review Toolbox on CODING: the language of the future.)

On the YALSA page of the American Library Association’s (ALA) website, you can download the free “Making in the Library Toolkit” from the Makerspace Resources Task Force of YALSA. The toolkit provides resources for planning, partnerships, tools and materials, marketing, branding and promotion, evaluating your program, and sharing your story by demonstrating impact. Sample activities (with costs noted) include:

  • Cup Catapult – students will learn basic properties of physics (cost: 1 cent per student).
  • LED Throwie – students learn very basic electronic skills (cost: $5 per student).
  • Glow Doodle – students learn photo editing skills (free).
  • 3-D Design – students learn the basics of CAD design and an understanding of engineering and architecture related job tasks (free).
  • Augmented Reality – students experiment with photo editing and altering digital media (free).
  • Website Design – basics of web design (free).
  • Garageband – Garageband basics; basic music mixing skills (free download; costs for additional instruments).
  • Minecraft – collaborative gaming – (free download, $25 for login, $49 for Xbox version).
  • Beginning Robotics – teamwork; beginning robotics (cost varies).
  • Stealth Programming Ideas – promote the resources you have available; self-paced projects.

You can easily build a STEAM makerspace. Any area in your classroom or school will lend itself to these labs, which combine the elements of science labs, woodshop, computer lab and art room to create a cross-disciplinary hybrid lab. The Maker Education blog on Edutopia features “Designing a School Makerspace,” which lists some suggested activities for your lab:

  • Cardboard construction.
  • Prototyping.
  • Woodworking.
  • Electronics.
  • Digital fabrication.
  • Building bicycles and kinetic machines.
  • Textiles and sewing.

The School Library Journal has several “Teen Tech Week Tips” to help make your event go smoothly:

  • Simplify – the less rigid the event, the more fun for teens; use guidelines, not rules.
  • Attractive displays – arrange tech-themed books so that teens are motivated to read. Suggestions found on tumblr include: Find Me (Romily Bernard), Replica (Jenna Black), The Eye of Minds (James Dashner), Little Brother (Cory Doctorow), Human.4 (Mike A. Lancaster) and WWW: Wake (Robert J. Sawyer).
  • Teen choice – keep programming flexible.
  • Promote – go beyond the school to promote the event in recreation centers, with other teachers, parents, etc. Send out reminders. YALSA offers a publicity toolkit at teentechweek.ning.com.
  • Prizes – competition is great – prizes can be small, but motivate students.
Teen Tech Week


Sample ideas from “50 Ideas for Celebrating Teen Tech Week,” found at teentechweek.ning.com include:

  • Hold an open house to show off your digital resources.
  • Establish a teen (tech) advisory group.
  • Create a Teen Tech how-to column in the school newspaper; have teens write tech reviews.
  • Host a mini “comic-con.”
  • Ask your local hardware store to host a do-it-yourself (DIY) program (Home Depot will sometimes provide kits and the labor for a kids’ workshop).
  • Organize a tech petting zoo (using borrowed equipment).

More ideas from teentechweek.ning.com’s “25 Easy Tips for Teens” relate to literacy and include e-book/audiobook downloads, familiarizing students with your library’s webpage, exploring review sites like GoodReads, Library Thing or Shelfari, contributing to an article on Wikipedia, or creating a book trailer. And check out some of these club activities for involving your Teen Advisory Club on the YALSA Wiki for “General Resources for Teen Tech Week:”

  • TTW Pre-Party – work with a teen advisory group for ideas and suggestions for the event.
  • Create Teen Guides – teens create pathfinders for tech.
  • Teen Tech Focus Group – in person or virtual.
  • Start a Teen Tech Club.
  • Favorite Teen Websites – create a del.icio.us list.

You’ll also find suggestions here for contests, multimedia programs, online activities, a computer block party, a techno petting zoo, best practices, and tech tools for librarians. ReadWriteThink.org’s “Celebrate Teen Tech Week!” activities include Bringing Lessons to Life with Animoto; Speak to Me: Teaching with Voki; Teaching with Zooming Slideshows through Prezi; and Using Glogster to Support Multimodal Literacy along with tech lesson plans for grades 6-12.

Pinterest as a resource

Pinterest is one of the best go-to-resources for creating DIY and Makerspace projects with students. Activities you find here include student/teacher created ideas, most with how-to instructions.

“Teen Tech Week: March 8-14, 2015” on Pinterest runs the gamut from a list of Steampunk booklists for teens, to creating an Altoids tin USB charger or flashlight. Instructions for creating a DIY upcycle how to for gadget fashion, ideas for recycling old computer keyboards, creating a low budget boom box, or making an iPod speaker from a Hallmark music card are included.

“Library Ideas - Teen Tech Week” has plenty of how-tos: Easy Stop Motion Animation for Beginners, How to Make a Mini Robot, How to Make a Lego Drawbot, Stop Motion Animation Ideas and Tutorials, How to Create a Book Trailer, and more.

Last year’s DIY-themed “Teen Tech Week” on Pinterest includes ideas for creating a technology museum, how to use QR codes to link to apps, resources, and instruction, Ten Awesome and Cheap DIY Projects for Geeks, a DIY USB flash drive bracelet, and how to turn your phone into a projector for less than $5.

At “Library Maker Spaces” you can find suggestions for younger students for Creating a Mini Maker Space; a STEM Engineering Challenge: Bridges with Marshmallows; Super Bouncy Snowballs Recipe; Read and Build a LEGO; an Eric Carle inspired story retelling activity, or Duct tape tie.

Teen Tech Week

Archived ideas

There is value in learning from past events. Libraries, students and teachers from all over have posted Teen Tech Week ideas to tumblr, the social media sharing site. On this site, you can learn how to help students create online trading cards, identify free graphic programs for digital art, discover how to make animated GIFs, find great tech fiction, discover why “math is pretty” or learn a geometric craft activity.

The “Unquiet Librarian” blog recaps “Teen Tech Week DIY 2014: Duct Tape, Squishy Circuits, and Makey Makey” with illustrations of paperclip art and duct tape flowers, links to a “how to” for making conductive dough, insulating dough and building squishy circuits, along with videos of her library’s events. Also see the blogger’s detailed description of “Teen Tech Week 2014 Day 1: Crafting, Experimenting, and Learning by Doing with Embroidery Floss” for videos on creating friendship bracelets and tech cord and accessory covers. Check out her post on her thoughts about “A Visit to the Lovett School Story Studio: Redesigning Learning Spaces, Rewriting Narratives of Learning,” which looks at a project that explores classroom design, dynamic design, creating supportive learning environments, and intentional space design.   

“A Retropeek at Teen Tech Week” from PublicLibrariesOnline.org links to directions from real librarians for making electronic cuff bracelets, turning jokes into memes, and 3-D printing.

For more ideas on the Maker Movement see the February 2014 NJEA Review Toolbox, “Make YOUR space: the maker movement in education.”

Patricia Bruder, president of Linchpin Solutions LLC, consults for the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC) located at the South Jersey Tech Park at Rowan University, Mullica Hill. EIRC is a public agency specializing in education-related programs and services for teachers, parents, schools, communities, and non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey. Learn more about EIRC at www.eirc.org or call 856-582-7000. Contact Patricia Bruder at linchpinsolutions@gmail.com.