Teen Education & Creation Hub
“Where teens explore, create, imagine… or just hang out!”
THE TECH LAB IS CURRENTLY CLOSED DUE TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS. WE APOLOGIZE, AND HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON!
In the meantime, be sure to check out our virtual programs
and Teen Take-Away Kits!
What is the TECH Lab?
The TECH Lab: A digital learning lab and safe space for teens to come in, hang out, and use 21st century technology. The TECH Lab is a member of the YOUMedia Learning Labs Network, a national group of individual labs found in libraries, museums, community centers, and school settings. While each Learning Lab focuses on their specific community’s needs and interests, they all share the following hallmarks:
- Provide a balance of opportunities for hanging out, messing around, and geeking out (HOMAGO);
- Provide multiple ways for a diversity of youth to engage within the program space;
- Prioritize a culture of equity, inclusion, and youth leadership;
- Give access to tools, technology, and people who support learning, self-expression, creativity, critical thinking, and innovation;
- Employ mentors who are dedicated to the YOUmedia approach;
- Design clear pathways and opportunities that enable youth to apply skills in meaningful ways.
Educational programming and resources offered by the TECH Lab are interest-driven by teens’ personal and social interests. Library staff, mentors, and community professionals are available to guide teens in their interests and foster an environment of exploration and the pursuit of knowledge. The TECH Lab utilizes the concepts of HOMAGO, Connected Learning, and Makerspaces to offer exciting, relevant projects in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). The TECH Lab can be found on the 2nd floor of Billings Public Library. Digital and virtual opportunities are available while in-person events remain limited in the interest of public safety.
HOMAGO (Hang Out, Mess Around & Geek Out) is an experiential learning theory based on research by Mimi Itto on how youth learn in new and social media environments. Teens:
- “Hang out” with friends in social spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram;
- They “mess around” or tinker with digital media, making simple videos, playing online games, or posting pictures on social media;
- And they “geek out” in online groups that facilitate exploration of their core interests (youmedia.org).
What is Connected Learning?
Connected Learning is learning that is socially connected, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected Learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement (youmedia.org).
What is a Makerspace?
Makerspaces are places to learn and have fun by making. Individuals use creativity and innovation to develop their own projects, or work with peers or mentors to achieve a collective goal. Each Makerspace will contain its own unique set of equipment and offerings. Makerspaces come in all shapes and sizes, but they all serve as a gathering point for tools, projects, mentors and expertise. A collection of tools does not define a Makerspace. Rather, we define it by what it enables: making. (Makerspace Playbook, Make:).
What's in the TECH Lab?
The TECH Lab is located on the second floor of the Billings Public Library. The lab is equipped with a wide array of technology and supplies, spanning both hi– and low–tech. All of the equipment is FREE to use for teens or students in grades 6-12. The lab also offers workshops to learn more about specific skills related to equipment and software, and provides mentors and volunteers with knowledge of STEAM topics to work with interested teens.
Here is a small sample of the awesome equipment currently in the TECH Lab
- 6 Mac Desktops
- 20 Laptops
- Sound Booth
- LEGO Robotics Kits
- Drawing Tablets
- Adobe Digital Art Software
- Minecraft, Arduino and Raspberry Pi Circuit Boards
- Video Cameras
- Digital Cameras
- Arts and Craft Supplies
- Xbox One
- and more!
This is also where we provide our Community Crates for classroom or at-home learning!
Learn more about our TECH Lab Artist-In-Residence and other partnership opportunities here.