Category Archives: Teen Services

Ctrl+Z: Teen Tech Mentors Take Over “Tween Time” – PART 2

Posted on January 30th, 2017 by chalpin in Teen Services

Teen Tech Mentor, Khalid Ibrahim, recently co-led a program for older children.
He shares his experience below: 

Our first Teen Tech Mentor  program was based on the Little Bits simple circuits set.  There are examples all over the Internet of the many amazing contraptions and gadgets that can be made with LittleBits.littleBits_project ideas

We began our program with a run-down of all the parts of the Little-Bits case.   My fellow Teen-Tech mentor and I went over where individual parts usually come in the circuit series.  We also went over the use of the specific parts when building the wireless buzzer.

First , we passed around a completed Wireless Buzzer to show the tweens what the project looked like.  Next, we began building the circuit beginning with the power source.  Then we conjoined the slide dimmer to the circuit in order to gauge the power being delivered to the rest of the circuit.  Finally we attached the wireless component to the circuit to reach the rest of it.   Finally, we experimented with attaching different Bits to the base circuit to see what other projects could branch from the Wireless Buzzer.

Overall, our first program with the Wireless Buzzer was a huge success as we not only accomplished teaching the Wireless Buzzer  to our tweens but we were able to branch off and move to other ideas.  Owen quickly got with the idea of the Little-Bits and took the lead for finding new innovative ideas with it.

-Khalid Ibrahim


Ctrl+Z: Teen Tech Mentors Take Over “Tween Time”

Posted on January 27th, 2017 by chalpin in Teen Services

Teen Tech Mentor, Khalid Mohamed, recently co-led a program for older children.
He shares his experience below: 

Circuitry (n.)

1946, from circuit (n.)+ -ry.

Circuit (n.)

Late 14c., “a going around; a line going around,” from Old French circuit (14c.) “a circuit; a journey (around something),” from Latin circuitus “a going around,” from stem of circuire, circumire “go around,” from circum “round” + ire “to go”.


Word-forming element making nouns meaning “place for, art of, condition of, quantity of,” from Middle English -erie, from Latin -arius (see -ary). Also sometimes in modern colloquial use “the collectivity of” or “an example of.”

Over the course of two weeks, my collaborator Khalid Ibrahim and I had developed a programed aimed for tweens on circuitry. As the etymology displayed above displays, circuitry is the art of going around, or in modern terms, the system in which an electricity flows. In the program, we used littleBits. The littleBits are a kit for easy-to-use circuitry, using little bits that function as different parts of a circuit. We had chosen to use these for our first program because of their versatility and ease of use.

We had first started with the planning of what our program would aim to achieve. We had decided on “activity aims to have students learn and demonstrate fluency in basic circuitry. This will be executed using littleBits, a modular electronics kit used for fun and learning.”. Then we had to construct an outline:

Program Activities:

  • Icebreaker – Name, age, “What do you think a circuit is?” (5 minutes)
  • Introduction what a circuit is, display littleBits, what you can do and what each part does, hand around and explain the Buzzer circuit (10-15 minutes)
  • Give students littleBits, and instruct them to a Wireless Buzzing Machine (30 minutes)


  • Other project as time allows.littleBits_Starter_Kit_openHR


  • littleBits
  • Example
  • Tweens

Learning Outcomes/Goals:

  • Know what a circuit is and what it does
  • Ability to use littleBits, what each individual bit does, and make a basic (buzzer) to complex (kite or wireless) circuits

We had chosen to have our tweens make wireless buzzers as they utilize all the littleBits and it is on the more complex side to build. To build this, we would need two batteries. two blue power bits, one pink modulator bit, a pair of wireless bits, and a green buzzer. To construct this, one would attach the blue power bits to the wireless bits. One one wireless bit there would be two sides, with the power delivered on one end and whichever channel it goes through and the buzzer is on on the other wireless bit, the buzzer will go off, if both wireless bits are on the same radio channel. The pink modulation bit, in this case the slide dimmer, can be attached to either bits or even the buzzer to change how much electricity can be sent to the buzzer, hence changing the volume of the buzzer.

On the day of our program, we had run short of materials. We had our littleBits, our example, and instructors. What we had run short of tweens, to the point where we had one. The student was named Owen, and was a nine year old who was extremely technology-savvy. He had shown us a website where he placed games he made using Scratch. Owen was enthusiastic about the project, stating that it would be easy to do. He told us that circuits are in all electronics, and serve to give them structure and power supply. He had flown through the introduction of the bits, and created the wireless buzzer within thirty minutes. Since my partner and I had no further projects to assign, we had Owen create to his delectation. He had built a fan and wheel contraption which he could control which one he wanted to run. In the end, we concluded that we had a great program. Though we were hit with the hindrance of one tween, we had him learn about circuitry and apply that knowledge to building custom circuits.
— Khalid M. Mohamed


On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in February

Posted on January 27th, 2017 by vkovenmatasy in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new February releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


american street cover

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Summary: On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream? (summary via Goodreads)

Why We’re Excited: First of all, look at that absolutely gorgeous cover! How could you not be excited? And secondly, we now more than ever need literature that sympathetically and accurately portrays the immigrant experience in America. Ibi Zoboi, who immigrated to the US from Haiti herself as a child, is in a position to do exactly that. This is her debut novel, so now is a great opportunity to not only read what sounds like an excellent book, but let the publishing industry know that we want to hear authentic voices like hers!


king's cage cover

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Summary: Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country — and his prisoner. As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back. (summary via Goodreads)

Why We’re Excited: This is the final volume of one of the big fantasy trilogies of the past few years — I have heard so many raving good reviews about Red Queen and Glass Sword, but I haven’t had a chance to pick them up yet! We can pretend that this was on purpose so I wouldn’t have the agonizing year-long wait in between books. If you’re in the same boat as me, now would be a great time to catch up…


beastly brains cover

Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel by Nancy Castaldo

Summary: In Beastly Brains, Castaldo delves into the minds of animals and explores animal empathy, communication, tool use, and social societies through interviews and historical anecdotes. Researchers from Charles Darwin to Jane Goodall have spent years analyzing the minds of animals, and today’s science is revolutionizing old theories and uncovering surprising similarities to our own minds. Humans are not alone in our ability to think about ourselves, make plans, help each other, or even participate in deception. You’ll think differently about the animals on this planet — maybe it’s their world and we’re just living in it! (summary via Goodreads)

Why We’re Excited: Animals are ♥, obviously! But as much as I like to believe my cat really loves me, the truth is that I don’t know much about how her brain works. Scientists are figuring out new things all the time and it doesn’t surprise me that we know more about animal minds now than we did when I was in school… and that’s really neat! Time to learn some new stuff. (But if the newest research shows that cats don’t love their humans, I’m going to go right ahead and ignore it.)


long may she reign cover

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Summary: Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne. Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life. (summary via Goodreads)

Why We’re Excited: The premise of this book sounds both bonkers and delightful (and reminds me inescapably of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder). An entire royal family murdered, and the under-under-understudy suddenly gets stuck with the crown? Can’t beat that for drama. To be honest the cover isn’t really grabbing me, but the plot summary more than makes up for it!


the hate u give cover

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. (summary via Goodreads)

Why We’re Excited: I’ve been waiting for this book to come out ever since I read an excerpt from the first chapter on Entertainment Weekly’s website. Angie Thomas’s writing is incredible, and this is a book America needs to read right now. (Bonus book to look out for: Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together, which I wanted to include this month but couldn’t quite make fit!)


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set!

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.

Hack the System!: Keep Your Phone ALIVE!!

Posted on January 20th, 2017 by adowds in Technology, Teen Services
Tags: , ,

2001_CellphoneThis was my very first cell phone almost 20 years ago. It was great. It had an antenna, a cool wrist strap, and could hold about 30 phone numbers. It was freedom. But, the very best part of my phone was that its battery would last for days. Imagine that. Not hours but DAYS. In 2000-2001, we didn’t use our phones to download apps, watch movies, play games, upload hundreds of photos that we never use, or text with friends. I used it for emergencies and emergencies only. But even if I did use it often, that phone had amazing battery life. Honestly, I think a truck could have run over this phone and it would have survived.

Now it’s 2017 and I have a smartphone with too many apps, several hundred photos, an amazingly colorful backdrop, and access to the Internet, which I use way more than I should. It’s battery….meh. I’m lucky if it lasts through the day. That is partly because I never fully charge my phone, often forget my charger at home, and interact with my phone probably at a higher percentage than I interact with people. Just kidding…but I’m sure it’s close.

So how does one increase the battery life for their phones?? It’s a plight we all face and often lose, but I have faith. Fortunately, I discovered the iTechHacks blog post that outlined 10+ methods to increasing your smartphone’s battery life. While you should definitely read the entire article, I have highlighted a short list of their tech hacks that will add time to your smartphone’s battery life, keep it alive, and reduce the number of meltdowns we have while searching for a charger…kim-kardashian




Lower the brightness — High intensity brightness on your phone will exhaust your battery. Make sure to turn off the “Auto-Brightness” option and manually reduce the intensity for a quick and easy battery-saving move.







Cool the Vibrations —  Did you know that the vibrations feature is one of the biggest users of battery juice? It drains your battery quicker than most other features on your phone. While you may use the vibration feature because it’s a great way to alert you to a call or text message, consider changing this option to save some battery life.






Un-Sync Your Auto-Sync — Turn off Auto-Sync! If Auto-Sync is left on, accounts, such as Google and Spotify, continuously sync new data throughout the day. This process utilizes A LOT of energy, which silently depletes your battery life. Before you know it, you went from 20% to 1%. Check your settings and make sure to refresh your apps manually.






Manage Your Apps — It is inevitable that you are going to have apps on your phone, but it’s how well you take care of them that matters. Delete apps you don’t use and update ones you do. Why update? Often appupdatemanager-cydia-tweaktimes, developers create new features for their apps that reduce battery consumption. Older apps may lack these new features and unused apps are simply sucking the life out of your phone without any benefit. If you have certain apps that are used infrequently, you don’t need to delete them, but you can manage their battery use by turning them off in your settings.




Want to create your own technology life hack? Stop by Teen Central during Open Lab time.

“Hack the System!” features examples of technology life hacks created by Ally, the Youth Technology Librarian at Teen Central. Check back on the third Friday of each month for her latest post.

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in January

Posted on December 30th, 2016 by vkovenmatasy in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new January releases! If you place a hold now, they can be in your hands before they even hit the shelf.

Please note: all summaries are taken from the Boston Public Library catalog unless otherwise noted. They may have been edited for length and clarity.


City of Saints and Thieves cover

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Tina and two friends leave Kenya and slip into the Congo, from where she and her mother fled years before, seeking revenge for her mother’s murder but uncovering startling secrets.

Why We’re Excited: Did you know that the Associates of the Boston Public Library host a Writer in Residence at the BPL every year? (This year’s writer is Lisa Rosinsky, and the book she’s working on sounds amazing — I can’t wait to read it!) Natalie Anderson was our Writer in Residence in 2014-25, and she wrote City of Saints and Thieves at our very own Copley Library. Even without the local connection, though, it sounds like a tremendously exciting story! I’m very curious to see how Anderson is able to bring her past experience as an aid worker into her book.


Devil's Advocate and Agent of Chaos covers

Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry and Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

Summary: In the spring of 1979, fifteen-year-old Dana Scully has bigger problems than being the new girl in school. Dana has always had dreams. Sometimes they’ve even come true. Until now, she tried to write this off as coincidence. But ever since her father’s military career moved the family across the country to Craiger, Maryland, the dreams have been more like visions. Vivid, disturbing, and haunted by a shadowy figure who may be an angel . . . or the devil. When a classmate who recently died in a car accident appears before Dana, her wounds look anything but accidental. Compelled by a force she can’t name, Dana uncovers even more suspicious deaths–and must face the dangerous knowledge that evil is real. But when a betrayal of faith makes her question everything, she begins to put her faith in being a skeptic. / In the spring of 1979, seventeen-year-old Fox Mulder has bigger problems than applying for college. Five years ago, his younger sister disappeared from their home and was never heard from again. Mulder blames himself, and his mother blames his father, who has retreated into his top-secret work for the State Department. In Fox’s senior year, his dad has moved him to Washington, DC–away from his friends on Martha’s Vineyard. While Mulder doesn’t mind the fresh start and not being known as “that kid with the missing sister,” he’s still obsessed with finding Samantha. So when a local boy turns up dead and another child is abducted, Mulder can’t stop himself from getting involved. Could there be a link to his sister’s case? As he uncovers the truth, Mulder and his friends find themselves on the trail of a serial killer. Sucked into a world where conspiracies, the occult, and madness overlap, Fox Mulder starts to believe.

Why We’re Excited: It’s so great to live in the 21st century where pretty much every movie or television franchise gets its own tie-in YA novelization! (I’m not being sarcastic. I grew up devouring the Starfleet Academy novels. If more of my favorite shows and movies had had YA books, I would have been all over that.) I actually managed to miss the X-Files craze the first time it came around, so the new books are a chance for me to get acquainted with Mulder and Scully for the first time — I’ve been assured I’ll love them. Not to mention there are some pretty big name authors attached to the project! You might recognize Kami Garcia from the Southern Gothic series Beautiful Creatures, which she co-wrote with Margaret Stohl, and Jonathan Maberry from his zombie apocalypse thriller Rot & Ruin. Tie-ins have come a long way in the writers department since the Star Trek: The Original Series days…



The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

Summary: Mississippi. 1966. On a hot June afternoon an African-American man named James Meredith set out to walk through his home state, intending to fight racism and fear with his feet. A seemingly simple plan, but one teeming with risk. Just one day later Meredith was shot and wounded in a roadside ambush. Within twenty-four hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and other civil rights leaders had taken up Meredith’s cause, determined to overcome this violent act and complete Meredith’s walk. The stakes were high–there was no time for advance planning and their route cut through dangerous territory. No one knew if they would succeed. By many measures the March Against Fear became one of the greatest protests of the civil rights era. But it was also one of the last, and the campaign has been largely forgotten. Critically acclaimed author Ann Bausum brings this crucial turning point of civil rights history back to life, escorting you along the dusty Mississippi roads where heroic marchers endured violence, rage, and fear as they walked more than 200 miles in the name of equality and justice.

Why We’re Excited: Voter suppression, racial profiling, police brutality, disproportionate incarceration and sentencing… which century are we living in again? But when the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement seem in danger of being forgotten, it’s that much more important to remember their struggles and successes. Ann Bausum — who also wrote Stonewall — picked a frighteningly timely topic for her new book.


Our Own Private Universe cover

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it’s mostly about sex. No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual–even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. Actually, Aki’s theory is that she’s got only one shot at living an interesting life–and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa–slightly older, far more experienced–it seems her theory is prime for the testing. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you’re in love? It’s going to be a summer of testing theories–and the result may just be love.

Why We’re Excited: I can’t look at this beautiful cover without thinking of the new edition of Annie on My Mind. I don’t know if that’s intentional, but it’s such a lovely connection to have — Annie on My Mind is about to turn 35, and it’s a pleasure for librarians nowadays to have so many new YA lesbian romances to offer as its spiritual successors. Robin Talley has certainly done her part to contribute to our supply! Lies We Tell Ourselves, What We Left Behind, and As I Descended are all available to check out from the BPL, if you need to catch up!


History Is All You Left Me cover

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Summary: Secrets are revealed as OCD-afflicted Griffin grieves for his first love, Theo, who died in a drowning accident.

Why We’re Excited: New Adam Silvera book! Sounds like it’ll make you cry every bit as much as More Happy Than Not! Yes, that’s a recommendation!


icon of VeronicaDid I get you interested in reading one of these books? Just click the title of the one you want and the link will take you to the relevant page in the catalog. From there you can click the green “Place a Hold” button and you’re all set!

Need a library card? Wondering how long you can borrow a book? Borrowing and Circulation information can be found here.


*”On the Radar” features book previews by Veronica, the Teen Librarian at the Dudley Branch, on the last Tuesday or Friday of every month.