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Our next Virtual Workshop will be held in February 2024
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We'll help you create your own Teen Think Tank Workshop
Teen Think Tank started with three Ohio teen librarians who liked to collaborate. Erin Gillespie, Rikki Unterbrink, and Steve Moser would share ideas and help brainstorm on a regular basis. One day they realized that it would be great to get even more people sharing ideas and helping to brainstorm when needed. Teen Think Tank is what became of that conversation. Since then, the planning team has since grown. Some have left us, others joined us.
Meeting for workshops twice each year(1 in-person, 1 virtually), the goal is for each attendee to leave with new contacts and new ideas for programs, decorations, crafts, books, and more. When in-person, each presentation throughout the day is carefully planned to keep everyone actively involved. When attending Teen Think Tank, you try the games, make the crafts, construct the decorations and see the books.
Our Community Leaders
Sarah is the Teen Services Department Manager at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, where she has developed comprehensive teen services since 2007. She frequently speaks about marketing, programming, and connecting with teens, and currently serves as one of YALSA’s Transforming Teen Services trainers. She writes at zen-teen.com.
Sarah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valerie is the Youth Services Supervisor and School Liaison for the Putnam County District Library.Her current position keeps her busy with everything from storytime to collection development for all 8 library locations.Her favorite part of her job is advocating and mentoring the teens.Valerie enjoys concerts, shopping, gardening, movies, and audio books.In her spare time, Valerie spends time living life with her family and friends.
Valerie can be reached at vlaukhuf@seolibraries .org
Rachel is at the Delaware Co. District Library Orange Branch. With 10+ years of experience, most of her time is spent running their volunteens, Teen Advisory Board, and trying to keep up at D&D club (she’s a novice but has good intentions). She enjoys fostering community partnerships, representing her library in the Delaware Co. Against Human Trafficking Coalition. She enjoys horror, feminist retellings of Greek mythology, and Russian folklore featuring Baba Yaga.
Rachel can be reached at email@example.com
Caitlin manages the Youth Services Department at the Fairborn Community Library of the Greene County Public Library. She runs a Preschool and Baby Story Time and a 3rd-5th grade book club. When not at the library, you might find her hunting ghosts at haunted locations or curled up on the couch with Dave the Dog reading or watching horror movies.
Caitlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve is the Teen Librarian at the Trotwood Branch of Dayton Metro Library. Before moving to Dayton, he was at Lima Public Library for 11 years overseeing the creation of a Teen Advisory Group and a Teen Lounge. He currently works to ensure teens are represented, given their voice, and receive the programs/services they want and need. He loves audiobooks and has a love/hate relationship with glitter.
Steve can be reached at email@example.com
Bailey is the Teen Services Librarian at the New Lebanon Branch of the Dayton Metro Library. The teens there often cry during Roll to Regret (a tabletop RPG) and rarely leave with fewer than four books. Mary Beth loves to be creative and plan big. Feel free to reach out, except in November when they are working on Nanowrimo (probably behind on their word count).
Mary Beth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy is currently the Teen Specialist at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. Amy runs her library’s Teen Advisory Board, facilitates a teen led beginners D&D program, provides STEAM programming for tweens and teens, and more. Amy tries to read as much YA as possible.
Why It's Awesome: This is perfect for families looking for new ideas - THANK YOU!Together, we found a page filled with fun science projects and activities! The Teen Think Tank Crew would like to thank Allie, Stella, Nessa, and Kason for submitting this awesome website.
Why It's Awesome: I didn't know what Engineers did so it was nice to read about the different jobs they do for a living. I didn't know there were so many different types of engineers! There are lots of games on here that you can play online and I took the 'What Kind of Engineer Are You?' quiz which was fun! I got Aerospace Engineer!
Why It's Awesome: I liked this one because it had woodworking projects. We made a birdhouse in Girl Scouts last year and I really liked it. I want to do more projects like this with my troop. The Teen Think Tank Crew would like to thank Girl Scout Hannah B. from Alabama for submitting these. She found them helpful with her 'Think Like an Engineer' Badge. Thanks Hannah!
Why It’s Awesome: Science Buddies remains one of the best due to it’s ability to find personalized results. Users can select when the project is due (a month, a week, tomorrow…) along with their grade level. It then asks a series of simple questions such as “Do you enjoy watching or participating in sports?” to determine which projects you would be most interested in.
How Stuff Works https://www.howstuffworks.com/
Why It’s Awesome: I love the How Stuff Works books at my library and was excited when I discovered their website is more of the same in an easier to read format.
Why It's Awesome: Early screenings—they’re key to helping health professionals establish a baseline and pinpoint exactly what they should be treating. And, the best part about these kinds of tests is that they’re confidential between young patients and their doctors.
Why It’s Awesome: Stardoll is “the world’s #1 fashion game” according to their own website and is very substantial design tool. I consider Stardoll to be a more robust version of the Sims character maker which can be easily accessed on library computers. Note: Like Roblox; play is free, some features will be locked behind a paywall.
Why It’s Awesome: Takes a simple black and white drawing and fills in the details using a database of stock photos. This means that your simple drawing of a purse could create a unique (and potentially bizarre) realistic looking purse. My favorite option here is the cat creator though, some have ended up unintentionally terrifying.
Why It’s Awesome: Create simple storyboards and scenes using either preset images or uploaded images. After scenes or comics are created, it’s easy to save and share the creations although there does not appear to built-in sharing platform which is disappointing.
Why It’s Awesome: Perler Bead projects are easy to create, but it can be difficult coming up with designs that look good once it’s all put together. The official Perler Bead website solves this problem by providing over 400 printable pdf’s that provide detailed patterns for kids and teens to replicate. There are even 3D designs, fidget spinners and headbands available to create.
Why It’s Awesome: Pixel art has regained popularity in recent years due to the rise of indie gaming and retro graphics. It’s also incredibly simple to create. Pixel Art Maker is one of the more comprehensive creators available, allowing users to set individual pixels while also offering advanced tool sets for drawing pixels, adding blur effects, and mirroring lines of pixels.
Why It’s Awesome: Google Arts and Culture allows it’s users to visit museums, temples, tombs and more from all over the world using a home computer, phone or tablet. This works similarly to Google Street View in that you can ‘walk’ around the locations and the optional VR mode makes everything that much more real.
Why It’s Awesome: Teens with an interest in science and technology will find a lot to love about Futurism. These brief news articles keep it simple, yet remain very informative. There are also sections for infographics and videos, but the news articles are the real highlights here and can be easily sorted to find the technology trends that are of the most interest to them. I particularly enjoy the sections on Virtual Reality, Enhanced Humans and Robotics and recommend doing at least a quick scan of the top headlines.
Why It’s Awesome: You can run your own space station, design your own ships and send them out to harvest resources and explore the universe. There is a lot of cool stuff to do, but the main reason I’m including this entry on the list is the stock market simulator.
Why It’s Awesome: In the future, humanity has perfected teleportation technology and now outsources their meal preparation to aliens. In this 5 to 10 minute game, your job is to determine what is and what is not considered soup so it can be teleported down to hungry humans. The game is not only amusing, but it’s thought provoking. I
Why It’s Awesome: Grow your small paperclip making business into an AI that takes over the world using assembled paperclips. This requires some strategic decision making and even has a very simple stock market simulator built into it.
Why It’s Awesome: This is my favorite way to learn about the stock market and how supply and demand actually works. Participants are given $100,000 in virtual (fake) money with the challenge being to make as much money as possible. Think you have what it takes to make millions? See for yourself…
Why It’s Awesome: Teens can get free career test results in only a couple minutes. The results do not recommend specific jobs which may disappoint some, but it does point people towards major career areas such as Education and Technology. I recommend looking up specific jobs using the “Occupation Outlook Handbook” online or in print form to get more information.
Why It’s Awesome: This simplistic digital storybook creator allows users to create their own picture books by directing the on screen characters. You can change the backgrounds and characters and tell them how to interact with your other characters and the story will begin filling itself in. Might be too simplistic for some teens.
Why It’s Awesome: Are you a teen interested in getting your work published? Teen Ink Magazine accepts a wide variety of submissions including poetry, short stories, art and opinion pieces that have the chance to get published in an actual print magazine.
Why It’s Awesome: This website has a wealth of resources available for writers of all ages, but my favorite part about it is the sheer number of creative writing prompts. Sometimes it can be hard coming up with a good idea but with these prompts, anyone with a shred of an imagination can come up with an original story. Examples include: “What would happen if Children ruled the world?”, “Why do you think some people take advantage of others?”, and “I wish everyone had…”.
Pro-Tip: Creative writing prompts can also very useful when meeting new people or on first dates. No one likes to hear the same 20 introductory questions and with these prompts, you have the opportunity to really make an impression.
Why It’s Awesome: Every November, writers are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel during National Novel Writing Month. This can be really intimidating without the right support, so a Youth Writer’s Program was created to provide teens with the tools they need to write their first (or second, or third) novel. There are videos, help guides and forums available for writers to get the help they need and the website provides it’s writing own writing platform so you don’t have to worry about saving and transferring your progress each time you change computers.
Why It’s Awesome: It’s simple to use, it’s visually entertaining and has enough depth that advanced songs can be created if one is creative enough. There is a social platform built in for sharing music and I really like the concept of the Top 50 songs that are based on what is popular this week, this month and this year.
Why It’s Awesome: Is designing your home in the Sims your favorite part of the game? If so, take a look at Planner 5D, an amazing free resource that allows users to create their own custom homes and rooms. Consider this one when it’s time to redecorate a room (or a miniscule college dorm room) and need to figure out where to put everything.
Why It’s Awesome: Want to create your own songs but don’t know any instruments? UJAM allows users to sing or input their own vocal track and then remix it using preset musical styles. The styles are very diverse and cover everything from blues to brit pop to hard rock. Within minutes, my library teens had created hard rock and techno remixes of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
Why It’s Awesome: Do Something takes a different approach to spreading goodwill by encouraging positive actions. Users can select how much time they have to devote to a cause, what type of cause they are interested in (Bullying, Discrimination, Environment) and how they want to contribute (making something, performing a face to face action, improving a space).
Why It’s Awesome: It can be hard to find opportunities that will accept children and teens, so Volunteer Match includes special filters that show opportunities available for any age group. Volunteer Match breaks Volunteer Opportunities down into categories such as LGBT, Crisis Support and Animals which makes it much easier for find something anyone can be passionate about.