Tomball among libraries participating in coding program for kids
Aside from providing the public with books and computer access, the Tomball Community Library is also offering girls a chance to learn to code through the Playbots Coding Club.
The Harris County Public Library is one of 28 library systems awarded a $23,000 grant from the American Library Association and Google to teach children to code.
Mandy Carrico, a HCPL adult programs librarian, said technology skills such as coding, can be intimidating to many people, but that learning how to code at a young age can be beneficial in the long run.
“The younger you’re exposed, the more you can see yourself doing these kinds of things,” she said. “Technology and coding - what they’re built on - they give you this power of exploration and the ability to solve problems.”
The Tomball library, located on the Lone Star College-Tomball campus, is participating in one of four Harris County Public Library locations to offer two-hour weekly lessons in coding as part of a $500,000 Libraries Ready to Code national initiative funded by the American Library Association and Google.
Aside from Tomball, this program - which is the first of its kind - is being taught at the Katy, North Channel and Jacinto City library branches. The Tomball and Katy locations are only teaching girls while North Channel and Jacinto City braches will focus on lower-income students, Carrico said.
“One of the reasons that we did this grant was that women and minorities are under represented in these careers and we wanted to start young to kind of get them used to the idea that ‘You can see yourself in these careers, too,’” she said.
One aim of the program is to expose girls to computing at younger ages so that they are encouraged to learn it and pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, which predominantly feature men.
Approximately 12 percent of women work in engineering while 26 percent work in computing, according to a 2015 report by the American Association of University Women.
As one of the 12 participants attending the program at the Tomball Community Library, Abisai Garcia, 12, already has experience with coding and is currently working on building her own websites from scratch.
“I’ve been coding since I was 9,” she said. “I’m working on a web page right now.”
Ingrid Glenn, 12, said she was a fan of action adventure and role-playing video games on her PlayStation 4. She signed up to the program to find
“When I learned I could make them, I really wanted to do that,” she said.
At the end of the eight-week program, the participating girls will film a video featuring the Lego Mindstorm robots they built with the coding skills they acquired through the program.
As the first program to offer these technology skills, HCPL hopes to offer it again in the future to more teens and pre-teens.
“We’re going to learn from this and it’s going to come back again,” Carrico said. “It may be similar or it may be tweaked, depending on what we learn from this pilot.”