Library Technology Buzz is an occasional blog post, written by the PLA Technology Committee, on hot topics in the library technology world. In this post, PLA Technology Committee member Amy Terlaga (Director of User Services, Bibliomation, Inc.) discusses a partnership between the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Public Library and area tech businesses which resulted in a “Code Camp” for teens, with Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian at the Chattanooga Public Library.
What is Code Camp DEV DEV? What inspired you to do it?
DEV DEV is a partnership among the Chattanooga Public Library, Engage 3D, AIGA Chattanooga, and the Benwood Foundation. It was conceived in the spring of 2013 as a way to offer a code camp to teach teenagers about technology in the Chattanooga area. Chattanooga is also known as “the gig city” because of our 1 gigabit per second Internet connection. Technology is very important to our city.Chattanooga is home to many tech minded businesses and start ups. Because of that, teaching teens about the importance of technology and how it effects their hometown was very important for all of the partners involved in DEV DEV. For DEV DEV: summer of code, we taught 50 teens HTML, CSS, Python, and how to program robots over four weeks. Each week was dedicated to a different topic.
Who’s it for? Who is the target audience? How did you promote it?
The code camp program this summer was for teens ages 12-18. However, that’s not to say that any future DEV DEV programs will just be for that age group. All of the partners involved in DEV DEV see this program as an ongoing program, so we envision the target audience in the future being different for each DEV DEV program. We promoted the event through traditional news media outlets, social media, and through the local schools. All three areas of promotion worked really well for us.
What are the minimum programming skills required to pull this off? What other skills helped? Were there others on your team? What skills did they bring to the table?
For “DEV DEV: Summer of Code,” the only requirement was that participants were between the ages of 12-18. We did have an application process before the program started that helped us gather statistics on the possible participants. We asked them about the math classes they had completed in school. This helped us group teens that were roughly in the same grade level together (we had two classes). As far as others on the team, DEV DEV is a collaboration among the Chattanooga Public Library and many community organizations including:
- Engage 3D, a Chattanooga-based nonprofit organization working with partners around town to build on the community’s interest in 3D printing, the gig, and other innovative technologies. They provided the educational framework for the program, constructing the lesson plans, and other related tasks.
- AIGA Chattanooga is the local chapter of the larger AIGA network, which advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. They provided the branding and design of the program and also contributed design elements to all aspects of the educational program.
- The Benwood Foundation provided funding support.
- Chattanooga Public Library acted as hots and organizer of the program.
How many teens were involved with the program? What did they get out of it?
We had 50 teens involved with the program. In the end, they learned how to build websites, write short programs in Python, and to also program robots to complete specific tasks. I think the teens can speak better about this program, so here’s a video all about their experience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExBfcaNybEs
What was your biggest pleasant surprise? What was your biggest scary surprise? What was your biggest triumph? What would you do differently? Will you be offering it again?
I was amazed at the sheer amount of amazing work the teens did in four weeks. Some came into the program with some knowledge of the different topics and others came in with very little experience. In the end, their work on their individual projects blew me away. So much of our future will involve technology. To see the teens of today and their expertise with technology and to think about the amazing things they’ll build in the future just blows me away. We’re in very capable hands.The scary surprise? That we pulled it off! Ha! Honestly, it was a big program and with every program this big it can be tough to pull things off. But we did it! And we’ll do it again! DEV DEV, the planning and execution, taught all of us that through collaboration and community partnerships anything can happen if we all work towards a goal. Now that we’ve got our first program under our belts, our plan is to keep growing the DEV DEV brand here in Chattanooga and offer more technology related events to all different ages in our community.