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Charlemont library gets grant for ‘Tyler Tech’

  • KIBO the robot will help children to learn basic computer skills through the week-long STEAM program at Tyler Memorial Library. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO



Recorder Staff
Sunday, May 20, 2018

CHARLEMONT — For the last two summers, the Tyler Memorial Library piloted “Tyler Tech, a summer program for elementary age children to participate in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities.

But this summer, “Tyler Tech” will have new laptops and Kibo the robot, thanks to a grant from the Rural Technology Fund.

Tyler is the first public library to receive a grant from the 10-year-old Rural Technology Fund, which has provided technology to at least 40,000 students nationwide through school groups.

“Tyler Memorial Library is thrilled and grateful to receive support from the Rural Technology Fund,” said Library Director Andrea Bernard. She said the $4,000 grant has bought the library laptops, an LCD projector, a robot and additional materials.

“The whole point for me is that, not only will the kids have screen time, but time that’s helping them to code and create, to develop their own skills,” said Bernard. “I’m interested in design thinking; when you design something, you may make a prototype and several iterations before it’s complete,” she said. Bernard said it’s good for children to know that, “when things don’t go right the first time it’s not a bad thing, but a first step that you can build on.”

KinderLabRobotics, Inc. created Kibo the robot, which is designed to help children learn basic computer skills. Children can program the robot using bar-coded blocks they can string together, to tell the robot what to do, said Bernard.

The library will host two week-long programs: from July 23 to 27 for children in Grades 3 and 4; and from July 30 to Aug. 3 in Grades 5 to 6. Each class is limited to eight children and it runs from 10 a.m. to noon each day.

“The Rural Technology Fund is the perfect match for making it happen in our rural community,” said Bernard. “The fund’s mission is to acknowledge and take action to change the very real digital divide between rural and non-rural areas,” she said. “For rural communities to remain economically viable and appealing as a home to new industry, … these communities need to fully understand the potential that technology can provide, and encourage growth of those skills in local youth.”

Chris Sanders, founder of the Rural Technology Fund, said the nonprofit is hoping to reach 100,000 students in all 50 states during the next two years. “If I were to describe the perfect community learning center, I would describe a place that exists in most rural communities, that is safe, well-staffed, filled with people who love learning, and open to anyone in the community. Those facilities already exist,” he said. “They are our public libraries.”

For more information or to sign up, call the library during operating hours at 413-339-4335 or email: charlemont.hawley.library@gmail.com