The Mountain Lakes Public Library (Mountain Lakes, NJ) provides a semester-long internship for area high school students each fall, with potential extension into the spring semester. The program's goal is to provide high school students with a unique opportunity to learn about engineering and the design process by working with a community partner organization to design more accessible products. Through activities and hands-on work at the Mountain Lakes Public Library Makerspace, discussions with industry professionals, and working with partner organizations, participating students develop engaging and functional, accessible resources.

Project Requirements & Schedule

Teen interns spend a total of ~50 hours over eighteen weeks learning about accessible design and developing an engaging and functional accessible resource prototype with a partner organization. Projects can involve 3d design and printing, web applications, phone apps, robotics, raised graphics, laser cut materials, or anything that creates an accessible resource. No prior experience necessary! Students explore and learn everything they need to know as they collaboratively develop their ideas and projects with their partner.

Students are expected to complete a program orientation and meet once a week in person (or virtually, if necessary) for one hour during the duration of the program. Partner meetings are mutually scheduled for in person or virtual design sessions. Much of the design work can happen on a student’s own schedule, either in person at the Makerspace or at home.

Learn more about the Mountain Lakes Public Library's Engineering with Empathy Teen Internship: Connecting Technical Work to Social Needs. For more information, please contact Ian Matty via email.

Program Structure

Interns participating in the Build a Better Book Teen Internship program at Mountain Lakes Public Library work closely with local organizations on client-centered designs, and have opportunities to meet with industry professionals addressing current issues in accessibility and universal design. 

Previous interns have:

  • Visited with 3D design industry organizations 
  • Had meetings with St. Joseph’s School for the Blind students, both over Zoom and in person
  • Partnered with Sound Start for Babies and had meetings with their educators and students in person  
  • Participated in a Zoom session with Ka Li from National Network for Equitable Library Service on Accessible Tactile Design
  • Participated in a presentation and conversation with Brian McKenzie on Inclusive Design and Accessibility in Software and Game Development
  • Attended the virtual ISLAND Conference in Princeton, NJ to experience all of the ways that people and organizations are developing inclusive science education for everyone

Client-Centered Design

Through an iterative design process, students work individually or in small teams to design and build final products based on the needs of clients at two local organizations, St. Joseph's School for the Blind and Sound Start Babies. Project ideas covered a spectrum of needs including medical alert badges, understanding tornados, crayon toppers, book covers, and games. Students gained new skills and experience with STEM technology ranging from 3D printed materials to coded games and apps.

For more details on each project and student design process, visit the Mountain Lakes Public Library Makerspace Project Catalog.