PCL has successfully piloted an exciting an exciting, hands-on project that trains youth ages 12 to 17 how to build computers.
The PCL's Computer Builders Program, described in last month's PCL blog and newsletter, produced eight fully functioning devices in April at a successful pilot held at Olneyville Library. The program exhibited at the Rhode Island Robot Block Party exhibition at Brown University on April 30 and has the potential for providing a model that may be replicated at other RI libraries.
David Sok, PCL's IT Manager,came up with the Computer Builders Program as imaginative way to replace computer hardware through innovative educational programming. The one-week course features two hours of instruction a day and concludes with the hands-on build of a new computer and participants working in pairs to put together a single device. The builders receive a certificate of course completion and plaques are fitted on the computers stating the names of the builders and the date of assembly. Kids have the additional satisfaction of seeing their computers used by library patrons every time they visit the library.
Three young computer builders and their proud family members accompanied David and PCL staff to the Pizzitola Center at Brown University on April 30 to show off the new devices. While robotics exhibitors and visiting organizations took a closer look, tweens and teens at the robotics exhibition happily took turns surfing and playing on the computers. The Computer Builders Program is now receiving statewide attention from IT professionals who see potential in this approach to solving some of the IT challenges currently facing Rhode Island libraries.
The pilot program was made possible thanks to a grant from the United Way Olneyville Community Fund and will be replicated at other PCL locations. The biggest surprise? Absolutely no drop-outs. “I had anticipated some kids would stop coming.” Said David. “We asked tweens and teens to come in during their school vacation, sit down, look at a whiteboard and concentrate for two hours every day. But every day, they came back. They loved the experience and all 16 participants finished the course."