Tech Tuesdays, held every Tuesday afternoon from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Harker Heights Public Library, have had a range of lessons to hold children’s interests all summer long.
Designed for children aged 5 through 12, these tech lessons have involved everything from sewing to computer animation, and have been a big hit for both boys and girls.
Last Tuesday was no exception, involving two fun, award-winning robots named Dash and Dot who taught participants the basics of block coding through four separate iPad apps.
Block coding is a way to teach children coding basics by dragging “blocks” of instructions rather than using text; it teaches children programming concepts, as well as promoting both experimentation and creativity.
Tuesday’s class was actually an extension of what they had learned the previous week, though the program was so easy to learn no one had a problem catching up, and everyone got a chance to program their robots to battle in the children’s reading room.
Children’s librarian Amanda Hairston explained, “Last week we dipped or toes into learning about programming. We have a robot kit, we used an iPad with different apps to program it. Today the focus is to program it to shoot at a target.”
But during every Tech Tuesday, there are always more stations, not only to be able to accommodate the number of children that come for the afternoon — there were more than 40 last week — but also to give the kids some variety. But there is another reason, which Hairston went on to explain.
“We (Hairston and Lisa Youngblood, library director) feel strongly that the kids see the mechanics of what they’re learning, so we have the analog (side to the program). It’s nice to take it offline, so to speak.”
The programming station was but one of three. The second station held wooden catapult kits for the children to color and put together, which did function and shoot lightweight projectiles, and the third was a model trebuchet (manned by Hairston) which children got to take turns aiming at a target of stacked cups they were to try to knock down.
This variety in activities is great for everyone, especially for children like Morgan Allred, age 7, who was brought by her grandmother, Carol Morgan. “She is very bright, is good at a lot, is inquisitive, and she likes everything.”
Twelve-year-old Ezrah Evans-Franklin said he thought Dash and Dot were equally as fun as the trebuchet, saying, “They’re just fun in different ways.”
His brother, 11-year-old Mattityahu Evans-Franklin, said he’d play with, “Robots at home by myself, trebuchet with other people.” Then he was racing off to take another turn at the trebuchet, saying, “It’s really fun!”
The boys’ mother, Trisha Evans-Franklin, said simply, “I thank God that they (the library) has these programs.”
Six-year-old Elijah Schmidt overheard her and said to Hairston, “Your programs are so much fun!”
The library’s summer programs will continue to run until the start of the new school year.