Teens Take on Product Design

Posted on April 11th, 2017 by adowds in Teen Services

The following blog post is written by Teen Central’s Teen Tech Mentors, Khalid & Khalid, and the Teen Gaming Specialists, Ananda & Jorge, about their experience participating in the Product Design Workshop in The Lab.


Product design


On Monday, March 27th, the Teen TechMentors and Teen Gaming Specialists at Teen Central (Khalid, Khalid, Ananda, Jorge, & Jorge’s friend) participated in a program about product design, led by Ms. Jackson, a Senior Project Manager at Cantina, a digital design and development agency. Ms. Jackson told us that her job required her to be the head of any project whose main duty is to plan, organize, lead, and control the project efficiently and effectively. In the program, she had us manage what seemed to be a relatively easy project, a trip from Boston to Egypt, though throughout the program it became clear that such a project is not as simple as it seems. During the progra
m each one of us was given a stack of sticky notes and a sharpie, and we had to plan and place a note on the wall and suggest improvements on each step of the process, ranging from undressing at the airport’s security check to whether a translator should be hired.

During our program with Ms. Jackson, we thought of what we would need for a trip going from Boston to Egypt.  We wrote on sticky notes what we would need to bring or do before, during and after our trip. Also, after getting everyone’s ideas onto the inspiration wall, we began to place them into chronological order of how our trip would go.  Next, we began a discussion of logistics such as when we would get to the airport or how and through what agency we would book our tickets.  Finally, we began to reflect on our program by discussing what we’ve observed by planning the flight from beginning to end such as the tedious nature of travel and how these steps related to product management.


We all genuinely had fun during this program since we were able to express ourselves and give our honest opinions on the subject matter. We were given a “template scenario” in which we spoke on ideas for airport security. In the process, we wrote down on index cards what people do when traveling, taped them to a window, and put our ideas together on a whiteboard. The notes we took on travelers’ actions intertwined with our security subject, since patterns in their behavior and needs can lead to a resolution (since the current process is controversial). There were many things we learned and gained from this program. One of those things was the ability to understand how product designers work in their environment, and how they come up with so many fascinating ideas in the process. This just happened to be the main goal of this program, leaving an impression on us, which can be used for years to come if we involve ourselves in this field of work, or any other. Another example of a learning experience from this program could be the inclusion of the mini-seminar we had after our ideas were put together. In this part of the program, we all expressed our honest and in-depth ideas on how airport security can be let’s say… “tweaked” or “revised”. This helped me realize that the ideas we shared led to a moment where we realized that product design is actually an AWESOME subject. It is a perfect example of when great minds think alike, amazing things can happen, and when these morals are applied to the real world, nothing but good can come from it.


Our advice for any teen still looking for some inspiration – BECOME A DESIGNER! This program was one that really had me inspired to use my own creative ideas and put them out into the world, and that’s what we discussed during the program. I have no idea what other topics could be discussed in other cases but we discussed what we’d do in the scenario if we were taking a trip to Egypt and staying for a while. Long story short, we went through an extravagant sticky note process, which we later learned was how a group of designers would undergo the same situation. So you sticky note lovers, this career could be the icing to your cupcakes done neatly to your satisfaction. Anyhow, this program really helps express the creative process of new critical thinking skills, and observing the lifestyle of a designer! If there was anyone looking to release their creative juices and spray its mist across the world and take credit for it, this program starts you at the beginning of your yellow brick road.

If I were to do this program again, I’d like to know more about how one begins to become a designer. I, Ananda, am currently in the ninth grade and have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life, however, this designer career seems very intriguing so where do I sign up? While I’m still in school, there are concerns about schooling. What do I need to major in during college? Are there any tips about college that should be shared with the youth as advice? I had these questions answered, and we were advised to have a typical college schooling and that technology, business, sociology, and advertisement are all ways to go. But there is one final question – can I have pink hair? Best question of all interviews, they might laugh, but I’m serious… haha.

Video Game Development Program Review

Posted on April 4th, 2017 by jsnow in Teen Services

Hello my fellow gamers! It’s Jorge, back again, filling you all in on one of the programs we participated in recently. In our computer lab, we had a student from Wentworth College by the name of Bertrand guide us through a series of game developing techniques on the widely used software known as Unity. This software has been used for multiple console and mobile titles, including “Deus Ex: The Fall” and “Temple Run (1 and 2)”. The program went on every Tuesday for four consecutive weeks, and then came to an end. The template we used was a 3D platform game called RollerBall. The template used a ball, a “ground level” surface, and rotating collectibles. Although this was a learning experience for my peers and I, I wish to have a more in-depth, immersive experience in our upcoming program (also with Bertrand). If anybody may be interested in this program, you’re a lucky one! Bertrand will be returning to Teen Central on April 4th, and April 11th and 25th 2017 from 3:30 to 4:30! Come with us if you wish!





On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in April

Posted on March 31st, 2017 by vkovenmatasy in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new April 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.


run the risk cover

Run the Risk by Allison van Diepen

Summary: Grace has done her best to move on since her ex-boyfriend Mateo chose gang life over her. But even though years have passed, she hasn’t forgotten him–especially since she’s seen her younger brother Alex drawn to a life on the streets. She can’t bear to think of Alex making the same mistakes as Mateo, but she feels him slipping away. So when Mateo suddenly resurfaces, insisting he’s left gang life behind him, Grace sees an opportunity. Maybe he could be the one to reach Alex and pull him away from the edge. She tells herself she’s only talking to Mateo again because of Alex, but her feelings quickly return. Can she ever trust Mateo again? And is saving her brother worth risking a broken heart? With everyone she loves in danger, Grace must decide how much to sacrifice before it’s too late.

Why We’re Excited: Allison van Diepen has built up a solid reputation for exciting realistic fiction since Street Pharm came out in 2006, and I know her fans will be eager for to get their hands on her latest! Loosely related prequels to Run the Risk include On the Edge and Light of Day. If you haven’t tried out van Diepen before but you love Simone Elkeles’s super-popular Perfect Chemistry series, you might just have a new favorite series waiting for you.


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The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

Summary: Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself. To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he’s stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City… but sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

Why We’re Excited: Faith Erin Hicks has a really unique, charming art style, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for her ever since I read the criminally underrated Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, which Hicks illustrated (the writing is by Prudence Shen, who is brilliant and should have more books published so I can buy them). I enjoyed The Nameless City a lot, so I’m looking forward to the continuing adventures of Kaidu and Rat!


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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Summary: The true story of the relationship between brothers Theo and Vincent van Gogh.

Why We’re Excited: Charles and Emma (about Charles Darwin and his wife) is probably Deborah Heiligman’s best-known work thus far, but considering the cultural resonance of van Gogh — dude even has a Doctor Who episode devoted to him, which puts him in the same club as Shakespeare — I think Vincent and Theo stands a chance of being an even bigger hit! I personally am always down to read tales of sibling devotion, so learning more about van Gogh’s relationship with his brother sounds absolutely perfect to me.


takedown cover

The Takedown by Corrie Wang

Summary: In this near-future mystery, Kyla Cheng, the smartest, hottest, most popular student at her Brooklyn high school, gets taken down a peg by a faked sex tape that goes viral.

Why We’re Excited: LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS COVER. How could you not be excited?


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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness–except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Why We’re Excited: I don’t need to talk up Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, right? I mean, it won the Morris Award for best YA debut novel in 2015 and it’s being turned into a movie that’s supposed to come out next year. So when I hear that Becky Albertalli’s next book features (a) a plus-sized heroine (b) girls who love girls (c) Tolkien fans and (d) TWINS, obviously I’m going to be interested. And you should be too!


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.

Stop the Press: Spotting ‘Fake’ News

Posted on March 7th, 2017 by rbeckley in Teen Services



“You won’t believe what happens next!!”

The term “fake news” has been thrown around a lot recently. Reports have surfaced that Russia, a foreign government, intervened in the US Presidential Campaign with media meant to influence the election. The current US President has labeled traditionally reputable news outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, NBC, CBS, and ABC as ‘fake news.” If this term is used enough, it becomes part of our common vernacular. This can become dangerous if the public does not understand the definition of the word or term.

“Fake News” used to mean exactly what it sounds like, lies made up by people posing as news. The current US President, according to NPR, “casts all unfavorable news coverage as fake news. In one tweet, he even went so far as to say that ‘any negative polls are fake news.’ And many of his supporters have picked up and run with his new definition.”  This is a dangerous pattern, and the best way to avoid being misled by any persuasive influence is through information and self-education.

So how do you staff informed? How do you weed out the “fake news” from the truth? There are several helpful resources and tips available for you online. Here is a sampling: NPR, USA Today, and factcheck.org. For an additional read, check out this article by Buzzfeed News article on how hyperpartisan news gets made.

News sites have a standard look and feel to them, but this is easily copied by fake news sites. You’ll want to look out for other indicators when spotting fake news:

  • Pay attention to the URL. Sites with endings such as .com.co should tip you off. abcnews.com is a trusted site, but abcnews.com.co is not, and the similar appearance is meant to trick you.
  • If it’s real, other news sites are likely reporting it. A good practice is to do a quick google search, and see if the same “news” is also being reported by other reputable news sites. This will save you a lot of embarrassment if you share an article on social media without first double-checking.
  • How is the writing? How does it make you feel? Caps lock and multiple exclamation points don’t have a place in a professional news agency. Does it make you mad? False reports also target emotions.
  • It might be satire. Sites like The Onion are meant to be satirical and not misleading, but many people have mistaken Onion articles are legitimate.
  • Check your biases. This one is really hard. It means honest self-reflection on things that you may not like about yourself. Acccording to factcheck.org, “confirmation bias  leads people to put more stock in information that confirms their beliefs and discount information that doesn’t. But the next time you’re automatically appalled at some Facebook post concerning, say, a politician you oppose, take a moment to check it out.”


icon of RebeccaAre you interested in keeping up with the news and current events? The Boston Public Library has subscriptions to newspapers that you can read in the library or online.

*”Stop the Press” features current events posts by Rebecca, the Teen Librarian at the Grove Hall Branch, on the first Tuesday of every

On the Radar: Five Books to Check Out in March

Posted on February 28th, 2017 by vkovenmatasy in Books, Previews, Teen Services

Get your library card handy and reserve your place in line for these new March 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.


inexplicable logic of my life cover

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Summary: A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn’t mean about who he is.

Why We’re Excited: FINALLY, a new book from Benjamin Alire Sáenz! Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which came out five years ago, is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. While this is not, sadly, a sequel (you promised more about Dante and Ari and I’m holding you to it, Mr. Alire Sáenz! *shakes fist*), everything I’ve heard about The Inexplicable Logic of My Life sounds both gorgeous and thoughtful, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it. I’ve only been jealously eyeing the advance readers copy on my coworker’s desk for the past six months, it’s cool, I’m a patient human being and I can wait. (GIMME ALREADY.)


the bone witch cover

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Summary: Tea’s gift for death magic means that she is a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community, but when an older bone witch trains her to become an asha–one who can wield elemental magic–Tea will have to overcome her obstacles and make a powerful choice in the face of danger as dark forces approach.

Why We’re Excited: Buckle up, horror fans, your girl Rin Chupeco has a new book out! The Bone Witch sounds like it leans more toward fantasy than The Girl From the Well and The Suffering, but let’s be honest: we’re all going to show up for accidental necromancy.


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Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows

Summary: A proud geek girl, Emma loves her quiet life on the outskirts, playing video games and staying off the radar. When her nightmare of a new stepsister moves into the bedroom next door, her world is turned upside down. Quinn is a queen bee with a nasty streak who destroys anyone who gets in her way. Teachers, football players, her fellow cheerleaders–no one is safe. Emma wants nothing more than to get this girl out of her life, but when Quinn dies suddenly, Emma realizes there was more to her stepsister than anyone ever realized.

Why We’re Excited: I loved Darrows’ genre-bending debut, The Awesome (is it horror? fantasy? humor? contemporary romance? who cares, it’s amazing!), and her sophomore effort promises even more category-defying mash-up greatness. Bring It On meets Stand By Me? I mean, hey, why not?


overturned cover

Overturned by Lamar Giles

Summary: Nikki Tate’s father has been on death row for killing his best friend in a gambling dispute, but he has always maintained his innocence. Now his conviction has been overturned and he is back at the casino, where high school junior Nikki has been operating illegal poker games in the hopes of saving enough money to get out of Vegas after graduation–and now he is determined to find the real killer, and Nikki is inevitably drawn into his dangerous search for the truth.

Why We’re Excited: Lamar Giles knows how to write an exciting mystery — check out Fake ID and Endangered if you haven’t already — and he’s also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Need I say more? You’re in for a fabulous, authentic read.


honestly ben cover

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Summary: Ben Carver returns for the spring semester at the exclusive Natick School in Massachusetts determined to put his relationship with Rafe Goldberg behind him and concentrate on his grades and the award that will mean a full scholarship–but Rafe is still there, there is a girl named Hannah whom he meets in the library, and behind it all is his relationship with his distant, but demanding father.

Why We’re Excited: Ok, first of all, if you haven’t read Openly Straight yet, close the browser window, acquire a copy, and don’t come back to this page until you’re done so I don’t spoil the ending for you. Cool? Cool.
We safe from spoilers now? Great. The ending of Openly Straight made me actively furious. It gave a happy ending to our blithe protagonist Rafe (who was, let’s face it, abnormally well-adjusted and was going to be fine no matter what) but threw his best friend and erstwhile love interest Ben under the bus. I can’t even think about the book — which I really enjoyed reading, up to the end! — without getting angry about how Ben’s storyline just cut off in the middle of what should have been his narrative arc, zero resolution to be found. I should probably apologize in retrospect for cussing out Bill Konigsberg so much in my head, because as it turns out Ben is getting his own book and (hopefully!) a whole bunch of resolution is waiting at the end of it. Fingers crossed!


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.