The Library Ninja Blog

How to Build a Robot When You Don’t Know How

We’ve all seen the movies with Robots Of Unusual Size going through inconceivable obstacles to prove that, after all, they were only mostly dead. Then reality sets in: it’s only science fiction, after all: none of this is real, or it’s all too hard. Just like that, imagination dies.

Tell that to Leonardo da Vinci. You know him from painting the Mona Lisa, and numerous other inventions. Living nearly two and a half centuries before Benjamin Franklin’s electrical experiments, Leonardo designed a robot … without electricity. Although he never built it, scientists who read his journals did finish the robot. It worked.

Guess what? Da Vinci was, at first, bad at English and Math. Well, Latin, anyhow (which was the English of the time… and easier, in this author’s opinion).  He lacked a formal education in these things, and so his writings were ignored by more “serious” scientists of the time. He was nearly 40 when he had the chance to study math under a real teacher.

Leonardo didn’t let his own limitations get in the way of his imagination: he found ways around them. He never had electricity – he never even built the robot he designed – but he knew what he was doing, and it worked.

The next time you watch one of those movies and think, “those effects are unbelievable! This would never happen in real life,” take a moment to think of people like Da Vinci. With enough time, you could even be creating those blockbuster robots.

Written by Chris B., YTC Intern

7/23/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Technology

Talent Show/ Photography Showcase @ Central

In case you missed it…

Tuesday was our big Open Mic/ Photography Showcase event here at Central! Many young and talented performers graced the stage with their original comedy skits, beautiful manga-styled drawings, and heartfelt singing performances. But that’s not all…

As we delved deeper into the evening, “rocking the crowd” suddenly turned into a family affair as one of our talented young musicians brought dad and uncle with him to the stage… and they killed it! And to top the night off, the audience also had the pleasure of being wowed by some amazing photo shoots that were all taken by our very own teen photogs who participated in this summer’s photography workshop!

This was certainly a night to remember and in case you’re feeling that you might’ve missed out this time, no worries! Just be sure to stay tuned in for our upcoming summer and fall programs as well as be on the lookout for our next talent showcase event!                                                     


 Lost in Wonderland- A photo from a concept shoot taken by Makayla and Izzy

7/18/2014 by EJ A. Add a Comment Share this:

What To Do at the The Lab @ the East Branch Library

The teens who regularly visit The Lab often come just to use our computers for various things like visiting social media sites, watching videos and playing games online. So what happens when the internet stops working? Well, the opportunity arose just last week.

First came several rounds of the same conversation:

Teen 1: My internet’s not working.

Me: I know.

Teen 2: My internet’s not working.

Me: I know.

Teen 3: My internet’s not working.

Me: I know. Nobody’s internet is working.

Then, came the complaints about being bored, having nothing to do and when will the internet be fixed. I gave these teens two options: They could wait out the outage in the nice air-conditioned library, or they could leave and go out into the 95-plus degree weather. Maybe not so surprisingly, everyone decided to stay despite being bored and having nothing to do. But, contrary to popular belief, there’s plenty to do at The Lab that doesn’t require the internet or even a computer.

For those into building things, we have K’NEX, which can be used to build a roller coaster, a racecar or any number of other things. We’ve also got a pile of Lego bricks and a large Lego board on the wall where teens can make awesome Lego pixel art. And for teens who want to take their building skills up a notch, we have Lego Mindstorms robotics kits that can be programmed to do all kinds of neat things. During the internet outage, one of our teens began working on a robot that can solve a Rubik’s Cube!

Also at The Lab, we have Snap Circuits for those who are interested in electronics and how circuits work. These include instructions for over 500 different projects. While waiting for internet service to be restored, a group of teens passed the time listening to music on FM radios they made using Snap Circuits. We also recently added Raspberry Pi to our closet of toys. These mini computers will allow us to do some cool new electronics themed programs, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

It was good to see the teens having fun doing something that doesn’t require staring at a screen for hours at a time.

I hope to see more of you dropping by The Lab to play with our various gizmos and gadgets.

Written by Marco, YTC Intern

7/17/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Technology

Teen Summer Field Trips Have Just Begun!

Astronauts at the Planetarium!

Last Friday started our summer fun field trips with the teens who participate at Northeast Branch Library, Youth Technology Center, Teen Zone.

Excited, 10 teens from the Northeast community arrived, ready to go and explore the University of Texas at Arlington Planetarium. We were able to learn about the different types of careers there are in the science department, watch a wonderful science show driven by the campus's science ambassadors, understand what star gazing is, and what it takes to become an astronaut. 

If you are interested in partaking in any of our field trips like this, stop by the Northeast Branch Library for further information. 

We look forward to the next trip this week!

7/15/2014 by Veronica R. Add a Comment Share this:

Raspberry Pi is Here!


The Lab now has Raspberry Pi!  If you are not sure what that is, then click the link and find out!

Be on the lookout for Raspberry Pi sessions this Fall at the Lab at the East branch.

7/12/2014 by Chris W. Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Technology

Summer Games Day for Teens 2014: June Edition

The day began with a plethora of individuals eager to satisfy their craving for not only gaming but for competition as well. The kids were eager with excitement to begin playing the first tournament which was for that day Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

After several rounds of intense gaming which included our very own EJ, Studio Program Specialist, the finals ended up being Johnny vs Chris, two of our Studio regulars. The match began with fierce attacks and counter attacks from each side but in the end, after all was said and done, the victor was Johnny, earning himself the Grand Prize of a limited edition Minecraft poster and the praise from all of his former adversaries.

After the first tournament concluded, the kids were allowed to socialize with one another which included some of them playing Minecraft on our Studio laptops while others began battling each other with Yu-Gi-Oh cards to see whose deck was superior. A few others decided to play a couple of rounds of Soul Caliber on the PS2 but they were all still eager and revving to go for the final tournament of that day which was the ever-popular Mario Kart Wii.

The Tournament included the teens playing in a best of two series in which the top two would advance. The finals began and the four remaining teens began to do battle in a Grand Prix which, not only tested their course knowledge, but also their hand-eye coordination.

June’s Summer Games Day for Teens was a HUGE success but I believe the next Summer Games day will be even better. I hope to see you all there on Saturday, July 12!

Written by Miguel Mariscal, YTC Intern

7/2/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Gaming, Technology

Q & A with Kristen McGuire, Local Professional Manga Artist/Anime Voice Actor


From creating manga, voice acting, writing children's books, and teaching classes at local libraries, Kristen McGuire is a very busy person! On June 28, Kristen will be stopping by The Studio as part of Japan Otaku Day to teach a workshop on manga drawing. In the meantime, she did a Q&A with me about her current projects, what inspired her to create manga, and what it takes for young comic book creators to get their work noticed.  



Q: Tell me about your current/ongoing projects you're working on. You just finished the last chapter of Enchanted. How was it developing and working through a project from beginning to end? 

A: Now that Enchanted is over, I'll be returning to work on ChibiZombie Slayer, and possibly start a new project that is in relation to A Day in the Life of a Cat Girl. 

 It feels wonderful to start and finish a series, because it isn't something a lot of indie creators follow through on. Its easy to start a series, but it takes a lot of commitment to see it through until the end. 

 I love the characters from Enchanted, but I started that series so long ago that I feel like I'm closing a chapter in my life that I'm now past. My writing and drawing skills have improved a lot since the beginning of Enchanted, so it's nice to be able to move on from that.   

Q: What inspired your interest in anime and manga in the first place? 

A: As a child, I had always loved drawing. I wanted to draw sequential comics like what you see in the Sunday paper. Calvin and Hobbes was a huge influence. American comics never interested me. Big muscle bound guys running around, for some reason just never really interested me. 

Seeing actual manga when I was about 12 changed my opinion on comics all together. Stories like Sailor Moon that showed that an ordinary somewhat awkward teenage-girl could fight evil using magic was an amazing concept to me.

What started the interest in Japanese Anime and manga at all was when my brother brought home a subbed VHS of RG Veda. When I saw those eyes so huge and full of expression, I just knew I wanted to draw like that. It opened a whole new world to me, and I'm glad it did!   

Q: Speaking about inspiration, I noticed in a video tour of your studio, you have a poster of CardcaptorsSakura and stated that CLAMP had a large impact on your work. Could you explain that further?  

A: Haha! I do love CLAMP! Going back to my last answer, RG Veda was the first anime I really remember seeing. Their style, their stories, they were so inspiring to me. I love Card Captor Sakura and all of her costumes. She was just so cute! I love feel good stories, and there is a lot of that in CCS. 

Another series I would recommend by them is Angelic Layer. You don't hear about it as often but it's one of my favorites by them. My style was heavily influenced by CLAMP in the beginning, but there's also a lot of influence from ArinaTanemuraand YuuWatase.

Q: What should a budding mangaka(comic book artist) do to get their work noticed and critiqued by others?

A: Draw, draw, and draw some more. The biggest mistake that a lot of budding mangakaor comic artists make, is saying they want to draw comics but not actually drawing comics. 

I get tons of people showing me beautiful pin ups, but they don't have any actual comic pages to show me. Drawing comics, showing a story through art, and panel layouts are completely different from pretty faces.

Q: How hard is it to become a manga artist and how good do you have to be?

A: It's not easy, it takes a lot of work and a ton of dedication. I was in the artist alley for three years before I first got noticed by CozbyCon, and I'm a pretty outgoing person.

You don't have to be an awesome artist (sure it helps), but if you have a great story idea that you're passionate about and you can follow through on, then you can find success. The best thing about self-publishing is your success or failure is entirely on you. 

A word of advice, don't draw or write a story because that's what popular (Vampires, for example.) Chances are by the time you publish it something else will be popular anyway, instead, draw what you are passionate about. I love unicorns, so I drew a story about unicorns. There are always other people who have the same interests. 

Better to dedicate your time to something you love and find others who feel the same way, then to dedicate yourself something because that everyone else likes. 

Q: What would you say to someone that feels like they don't time to pursue their creative pursuits?

A: I say you have no excuse! I work a part time job, voice act, am a wife and a mother of two children. If I can find time to do it, then so can you! It may take you longer than you want, but make time, even if it's just an hour a day, and follow through on your creative pursuits. Trust me, it's very rewarding when you do. 


*While spaces for the workshop are filled, you can still register here and be on the waiting list. The workshop will be on Saturday, June 28, 2:30-5:45p.m.


Written by Amina Doctrove, YTC Intern

Studio Scribes: Summer Edition

On June 10, 2014, Studio Scribes started off the summer strong with Paper Toss Writing.  Paper Toss Writing allows students to write a story in round robin fashion but with a new twist.  After each round, teens threw their prompt back into the middle and drew a new prompt making each round of the story telling more interesting.  By the end of the workshop we had some creative and original creations!

If you missed this past workshop, do not worry!  There are still three Studio Scribe events this summer!  The workshop next week will focus on creating unique and captivating characters in stories. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 2-3 p.m.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 2-3 p.m.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 2-3 p.m.

Check out the details here.

Written by Karen McAlister, YTC Intern

6/21/2014 Add a Comment Share this:

Teen Book Club in The Maze!

Ready? Set? READ!

Join us as we begin reading this exciting, suspensful, adventure packed book called  "The Maze Runner". 

The maze runner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying....

Be ready to discuss and have fun all at the same time starting June 23rd, 2014!

Preparing for this journey through the maze, book club members are excited to keep reading knowing that it will soon to be a major motion picture starring the star of MTV's Teen Wolf, Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie Sanqster, Will Poulter, and Aml Ameen and hits theaters September 19th, 2014! Dont miss it and see you there!



6/17/2014 by Veronica R. Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Movies/TV

Teen Review by Katie... Hanging By A Thread

Welcome to Winston, California, where you can find sun, sand, fireworks, and annual murders. Wait, what?

Clare Knight and her mother are just settling in to their new life in Winston, a small town where Clare’s mother grew up, and where her eccentric Nana lives. Although Clare has heard of the infamous 4th of July disappearances that have occurred the last two years, she had no connection to them until she discovers that her childhood friend, Rachel, had something to do with the murders that Clare hasn’t been told about. Clare, an amateur seamstress who salvages old items to create new ones also stumbles upon a raggedy jean jacket that belonged to Amanda, the victim of the second murder. How does Clare know? She’s got a secret—when she touches clothes, she can see into the pasts of their owners, especially if an injustice has been done. Murder is a big injustice, but will Clare be able to use her superpower to solve the mystery and keep her friends safe before the killer strikes again?

Hanging by a Thread was definitely a unique read: a typical small town murder with superpowers involved? Count me in! I was satisfied by the ending and was never bored by the mystery and plot. I was disappointed, however, by Clare herself. She was fresh and interesting, but also seemed extremely petty at certain points. The desire to have a boyfriend and grow up quickly sometimes overpowers her common sense. Luckily, good character development cleans up that mess and overall, the book was interesting and entertaining: a good mystery read for the summer.

Other books you may enjoy by Sophie Littlefield

6/16/2014 Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Teen Reviews