• (FRAN RUCHALSKI / Palatka Daily News)
  • (FRAN RUCHALSKI / Palatka Daily News)
  • (FRAN RUCHALSKI / Palatka Daily News)
  • (FRAN RUCHALSKI / Palatka Daily News)
  • (FRAN RUCHALSKI / Palatka Daily News)
  • (FRAN RUCHALSKI / Palatka Daily News)

Library program is more than just fun and games

‘Generation Mars’ encouraging students’ interest in technology

The next generation of coders and engineers honed their skills at a technology training camp Monday afternoon as a result of a program hosted by the Putnam County Public Library System.

“Generation Mars: Technology Training Camp” will take place at libraries throughout Putnam County this summer, with the program kicking off this week at the library headquarters in Palatka.

Special Projects Librarian Jeremy Yates said the four-day program, open to children ages 6 to 18, is one of many programs the library system will facilitate this summer to encourage interest and education in science, technology, engineering and math areas. 

“They are learning that these computer programs, these games and these robots, they all understand different instructions and how to give them those instructions,” Yates said. “They are learning how to communicate with computers and robots and that sort of stuff, so if they want to make their own gamers and apps and websites later on, they have that foundation.” 

The technology camp is a result of funding the library system received from provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. Last year, the library received a $42,930 grant which has funded several How To Centers throughout the county. 

During this week’s program, students will learn the ins and outs of coding from Yates through educational games. They will also work with virtual reality technology, app-controlled robotics and LEGO robotics, Yates said. 

As Yates stood before over a dozen children eager to learn, he first asked if any of them could explain how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The ability to explain this simple task is similar to coding, he said. 

“Since you can tell somehow to put together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you can probably code as well,” he said. “Because all you are doing is you are telling a computer or a robot exactly what steps they need to take to complete a task.” 

Tracy Frederick of Palatka said she was ecstatic when she saw the multitude of programs the library has slated for this summer, including the technology training camp her kids participated in Monday. 

“I am very excited. They have so much going on this summer, so we have a whole schedule lined up,” she said. “Especially for the computer courses, which they are learning some in school but there is a lot that they still need to learn.” 

Yates said students having opportunities to learn beyond what they are being taught in school is important, as is introducing programs for students to take part in while school is out for the summer. 

“We want to keep their minds engaged so they don’t forget what they have been learning throughout the year,” he said. “If they weren’t getting (opportunities) before, they have the opportunity to now. But also, if they are getting it in school, this is just keeping their minds engaged throughout the summer and keeping them interested in these things.”

Satchel Preston, 11, of Palatka said he enjoyed the first day of the program because it focused on something he is deeply interested in. 

“I really like technology so this was fun for me,” he said. “It is really cool.” 

Participants interested in the training camp at the Bostwick, Melrose, Interlachen and Crescent City libraries can register in person at the library or via the Putnam County Public Library System’s Facebook page.

Palatka Daily News

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Palatka, FL 32177
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