Park City Library offers coding course for teens
October 4, 2016
In recent months, Adriane Juarez and the rest of the staff at the Park City Library have heard a common request from students in Park City: Create a coding course.
"Essentially, we've just had a lot of interest from the community because coding has become such a valuable skill," said Juarez, the library's director. "They've said, 'We love the library. This would be a fun place to do it.'"
Wish granted. The library recently announced that it is offering a free weekly coding course, dubbed Code Club, aimed at teenagers. The course, which is scheduled for Thursdays from 4-5 p.m., begins this week and will run through Nov. 17.
Juarez said the class will offer an introductory-level look at coding. Students will learn the building blocks of coding and will acquire skills with which they could develop their own websites or video games.
"It gives them a great way to move into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects and get involved with coding," she said. "And it's a program that lets them be hands-on and learn as they go. So our librarians facilitate it, but the students learn the skills themselves. And it's something they can go home and do on their own computer when they get done."
She added that providing students with a head start in coding could give them an advantage over their peers when they enter the workforce. She said experts claim the computer programming field is set for rapid growth in the coming decades, and qualified workers will be high demand. The sooner students get a taste of coding, the more success they could see in their futures.
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"Coding is like learning a new language," she said. "The earlier we start learning languages, from French to Spanish to Japanese, the more it's integrated into our brain and the way we think. So if we can get kids early and excited about this language of coding, we can really get them a jump start in life."
The initial Code Club offering will be offered primarily for English-speaking students. But the library, Juarez said, is dedicated to providing equal opportunities for Hispanic students and will provide Spanish-language coding courses in the future.
"We're kind of dipping our toe (in coding) with this first, then we'll look to expand it," she said.
The course is another example of how the Park City Library is evolving beyond the role libraries have traditionally filled, Juarez said. Providing access to thousands of books will always be an important function of the library, but these days, it's taking a more 21st-century approach to learning.
"We think the library is an expanding place for minds and an expanding place for skills and resources," she said. "And it's a place where people are creating information, not just gathering it. It's a place the community can come together and talk about the exciting ideas they have, and then make them a reality. So coding fits in perfect with that."
As the library's role has evolved, one thing has remained the same: A desire to engage Park City's youth. The staff works hard to ensure students see the library as a fun place to learn. Specifically, the library's YouCreate Lab, which allows visitors to experiment with things such as 3-D printing, graphic design and digital media, has been crucial in that effort. Juarez believes the coding program will also help expose more teenagers to the opportunities available at the library.
"Having a new generation of young people come in and discover what the potential is of libraries (is great)," she said. "We want young people to not only love books and literature and music and the resources that are more traditional in libraries, but also expand with the whole blossoming world of education and information. It's where they can gather and create. They can make it theirs."
For more information on Code Club, visit parkcitylibrary.org.
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