The Mountain Lakes Public Library is one of four partner organizations that are part of a National Science Foundation funded project led by the University of Colorado at Boulder & Build a Better Book.  Our goal is to provide high school students with a unique opportunity to learn about engineering and the design process by working with a partner organization on accessible projects.  Through different activities at the Mountain Lakes Public Library Makerspace, discussions with industry professionals, and working with partner organizations, students will develop engaging and functional, accessible resources.

Expected Project Requirements & Schedule

Students will spend a total of fifty hours over eighteen weeks learning about accessible design and developing an engaging and functional accessible resource prototype with a partner organization.  Projects can be 3d designed & printed, web apps, phone apps, robotics, raised graphics, lasercut, or anything that creates an accessible resource.  No experience necessary!  Students will explore and learn everything they need to learn as they develop their ideas and projects with their partner.
Students are expected to complete orientation and meet once a week in person (or virtual if necessary) for one hour during the duration of the program.  Partner meetings will be 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, contact Ian Matty at lakermakersclub@gmail.com.

Program Structure

Interns participating in the Fall 2022 pilot program had opportunities to work closely with local organizations on client-centered designs, and to meet with industry professionals addressing current issues in accessibility and universal design. 

  • Visit to at least one 3d design industry organization during the program
  • Meetings with St. Joseph’s School for the Blind students over Zoom and in person
  • Partnership with Sound Start for Babies and meetings with their educators and students in person  
  • Zoom session with Ka Li from National Network for Equitable Library Service on Accessible Tactile Design
  • Presentation and conversation with Brian McKenzie on Inclusive Design and Accessibility in Software and Game Development
  • Attend 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 worked individually or in small teams to design and build final products based on the needs of clients at 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.