Teen Tech Week Maker Carts

Flannery Crump March 21, 2017

With the generous grant provided to the White Oak Library District by YALSA and Best Buy, we are implementing an exciting new service with programs to promote it.

We are creating new Maker Carts at all three branches of the White Oak Library District. The idea is to provide a small-scale version of a makerspace. Each cart is a medium-sized wire rolling cart stocked with: an Ozobot, a Makey Makey Standard Kit, a Da Vinci Catapult Hydraulics DIY Wood Kit, Lie Detector Kit, a Fold n’ Fly Paper Airplane Kit, and finally, a Neutab tablet that we are loading with STEM-themed apps that the teens can learn from.

Ozobot - http://ozobot.com/

Makey Makey Circuits - http://www.makeymakey.com/

Da Vinci Catapult Hydraulics DIY Wood Kit - https://www.sciplus.com/p/da-vinci-catapult_48490ppc=shopping1&gclid=CNWCo9uR6NICFcq2wAodsnQFDQ

Fold n’ Fly Paper Airplane Kit - https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/alex-fold-n-fly-kit/ID=prod6065376-product?ext=gooPLA_-_Baby&pla&adtype=pla&kpid=sku6060100&sst=45bfba47-3d61-4e51-bd35-b777b601ad57

Lie Detector Kit - http://www.jungohead.com/lie-detector-educational-construction-kit-by-artec

Tablet - http://www.neutab.com/

These carts will live in the teen rooms at each branch and be available exclusively to teens. If a teen completes a buildable kit off of the cart, they will be allowed to take the finished product home with them and we will purchase a new kit to replace it. The tablet, Ozobot, and Makey Makey will always remain with the cart and cannot be taken home or checked out.

Our target audience with these Maker Carts is homeschooled teens or teens from underprivileged schools--these students may not have access to the kinds of STEM-based resources that will allow them to explore a love of science. We hope that these carts will foster a love of STEM subjects, creativity, digital literacy, and collaboration. These kits and apps will be both fun and educational, hopefully giving teens the sense that the library is a place of play as well as learning. The cart's resources should give teens a sense of independence as they may utilize self-guided learning or they may collaborate with friends. Perhaps these carts will even encourage teens to choose a STEM-based career path or college major. 

In order to promote the Maker Carts, we will be debuting them at district-wide events. The first is our district-wide STEM Fest, taking place on March 4th at our Romeoville Branch Library. The carts will be part of a larger demonstration of fun robotic kits that the library owns. During Teen Tech Week, each branch will have another program to demonstrate all the aspects of the Maker Carts. During these branch events, the carts will be explained and then all attendees will be able to complete a DIY Solar Monsterbot Tech Kit to take home. We will also be passing out surveys to all attendees to gauge their opinion of the carts and to get suggestions for what types of kits and apps they would like to see in the future. After these events, the Maker Carts will take up residence in the teen rooms and be available permanently.

DIY Solar Monsterbot Tech Kit - https://www.fivebelow.com/diy-solar-monsterbot-tech-kit.html

Type: Self-directed
Age: High school
Optimal size: 6-10
Estimated cost: $100+
Planning time: 5+ hours
Frequency: One-time

Learning outcomes

These carts obviously support STEM learning--they increase knowledge and interest in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. In constructing the robotic kits at our kickoff programs, they gained skills in assembly, spatial awareness, dexterity, engineering, and attention to detail. Their continued participation with the Maker Carts will foster increased interest and competency in these and other skills.


For the branch programs, all participants will be completing some easy robotics kits. These kits come with their own sets of instructions. Groups may work together to complete their kits if they wish.

In the future, the cart will be in the teen room for teens to use while a teen staff member is present. The staff member will answer questions about the cart, encourage teens to engage with the cart, and make sure no theft occurs. The staff member will keep an eye on things, but not hover and annoy the teens. There will be lots of freedom for teens to engage with the cart how they choose, with as much or as little supervision as they wish, and no time limit.


We evaluated our initial introduction of the Maker Carts by having participants fill out informal short-answer surveys. According to these, our participants are enthusiastic about the Maker Carts, they think we introduced them very well, and they look forward to seeing more of the Carts. They suggested more photo editing apps for the tablet and more kits about vehicle structure (especially airplanes). They also suggested art kits. There was a great deal of interest in the lie detector kit and the Ozobots especially. They also suggested group projects where teams could work on kits together. They liked the idea of learning through play.

Going forward, we will keep track of how many teens use the Maker Carts and get informal feedback through conversations with teens using the Carts. We will also gauge how often kits get used.

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