Described as “a four-day festival of guided play, mad science, digital wizardry and fun,” the Copperas Cove Public Library hosted its first WinterFest Academy from Tuesday to today. The event featured hands-on classes for children ages 1 through 18, emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math and, of course, books. Library Director Kevin Marsh, the mastermind behind the event, called it “a cross between Hogwarts and Girl Genius” and “Steam Punk Digital Wizardry.”
Classes for the 1- to 5-year-old age group included stories, crafts and music, culminating in a New Year’s Pajama Party today.
The 6- to 10-year-old age group were able to learn about assembling robots with snap-together circuitry and then program those robots using colored pens. They were also introduced to physics and engineering in the Mazes and Marbles class, where children could build an upright maze and put a marble through, or build a machine out of gears.
From there they could work their way to creating a Chaos Tower, a huge snap-together maze structure made up of tracks, gears, baskets, trampolines and spiral funnels. A ball bearing is then run through whichever course the kids have built.
Classes for the 11- through 18-year-old age group began with 3-D modeling and printing. Girls and boys alike first went online for a series of tutorials to learn about computer-assisted design, then went about designing and printing their own models. One 11-year-old built a model of Optimus Prime (a character from “Transformers”), and another made a model of a World War 1 airplane on their first day. The other classes for this age group were video editing and assembling and programming robots, for which Marsh said they were already showing an aptitude.
“We have a 3-D printer. We have a video editing station. We have the robot kits. ... We don’t have the creativity these kids bring with them,” Marsh said.
Ages 6 through 18 will be able to show off their work while enjoying pizza and video games during the Wrap Party this afternoon.
Participants ages 1 through 5 will end their academy time with a New Year’s Pajama Party.