December 7, 2016
The Woodland Public Library has been partnering with the Computer Science department at U.C. Davis since the summer of 2015 to bring free Scratch computer programming classes to children at the library. The program is run on the U.C. Davis side by the Computer Science Club and is called CS4K, or Computer Science for Kids. During the last academic year, the library collaborated in leading two sessions of classes each U.C. Davis academic quarter, for a total of six sessions. The student organizer of the program this year, Karen Chan, follows in the footsteps of Mariah Arevalo who started the program two summers ago with a pilot class at the library. Undergraduates can volunteer to be a part of the outreach program or participate for one academic credit by working at the library as well as at school sites. This fall the library had seven students create lesson plans that included fun projects for the children to create and build on using the free online site, Scratch. They also helped children understand the meaning of coding vocabulary like “loops” and “if statements,” as well as coding best practices. Scratch makes things easy for beginners because they can drag and drop bits of code rather than writing it out themselves.
On the library side, the Kids’ Coding Classes are run by the Children’s Librarian, Abigail Craig, who oversees the classes, teaches the introduction, assists with curriculum, and interfaces with families. The library was able to purchase 12 laptops for use with these programs, and as long as children can read they are able to participate in the coding classes. Upcoming coding classes are advertised in the library, on its webpage, and on its Facebook page. Children sign up for the series of seven or eight weekly classes and, since every session offers different activities, kids can continue to build their skills over time. For those who are not able to take a class, there is a list of coding websites on the Lots o’ Fun page of the library’s website which are easy to use at home or on the library’s internet computers.
Based upon the interest in the classes over the 2015-16 school year, the library added a weekly Hour of Code to the 2016 Summer of Learning Program at the library. Children were able to learn programming from various free online programming sites including Scratch, Code.org, and Code Combat. The Woodland Public Library looks forward to growing its coding programs and helping children become excited about building this important 21st century skill!