Kids had the chance to learn the secrets to creating their favorite games, apps and websites by playing around with computer programming at Code Club hosted by Meinders Community Library in Pipestone over the summer. Pipestone Area Community Foundation (PACF) granted $5,000 to launch the Code Club and make other digital updates.
“Without the grant, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” said library director Jody Wacker, who is also a board member of PACF.
The money helped Meinders Library create an entire Digital Discovery Makerspace. Staff purchased hardware and software, including Code Club, a curriculum that introduces people to computer programming.
Research on closing the opportunity gap for kids living in poverty shows engagement in the K-12 years, both
in and out of school, helps our kids thrive. Through local community foundation grants like Pipestone Area Community Foundation’s support for Code Club, southwest Minnesota is embracing Grow Our Own, a
cradle-to-career approach to closing the opportunity gap.
“We’d been thinking about offering this for awhile because coding is a skill we’re looking to develop in youth,” said children’s librarian Emily Blaeser, who coordinates Code Club. “We had 21 kids sign up, and the first couple weeks had new kids every week.”
Emily has no prior computer programming experience and said one of the great things about the curriculum is
how it encourages kids to practice problem solving and work together, not rely on adults or experts.
“The kids are bouncing ideas off each other, helping each other with problems. Often the older kids are
willing to help the younger kids. We’re the cheerleaders,” Emily said, referring to herself and a volunteer who is
a technology teacher at the elementary school. “We basically are there to put in codes when they pass a
Code Club is a fun way to introduce kids to one of the most important skills in the 21st century economy.
They get a taste of computer programming, learn the fundamentals of logic and are better equipped to
function the new economy.
Code Club also fills a need to engage kids at an age when they may not have a lot of other options in town.
“We have these kids who are 10 to 12 years old who are kind of left out. As a community, we are better at
programming for younger kids,” said Jody, the library director.
“Pipestone, for how small it is, has a lot to offer. If we can open it up and make it feel as if there’s something for everybody, make it little more vibrant, that’s how we’re going to keep our kids.”