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Westmont Library caters to kid gamers with Scratch program

Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 2:44 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Matthew Piechalak)
Kayla Kerr (right), 10, and Cali Landwehr, 8, both of Westmont, work as instructor Jack Schultz looks on during a session of the Video Game Design Club at the Westmont Public Library Thursday,. The bi-weekly class utilizes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Scratch program, a toolkit that allows children to create interactive art and animated stories. Matthew Piechalak – mpiechalak@shawmedia.com

WESTMONT – Young Westmont up-and-comers now have an advanced programming system created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at their disposal.

The program, dubbed Scratch, allowed grade school students to create and design their own video games at the Westmont Public Library. Classes, for kids ages 7 to 11, are every other Thursday afternoon.

“All the kids have enjoyed it and the parents are very pleased,” librarian Jack Schultz said. “Most of the classes we’ll have somewhere between eight to 10 kids on average.”

Along with allowing the students to create their own games, Schultz said he teaches them about pixels, sprites and other terms to know in video game programming.

Miller Elementary student Kayla Kerr attended Thursday’s class. She admitted she spends a lot of her summer break playing video games. She said she enjoyed the class.

“It’s a good chunk of my life [playing video games],” the 10-year-old said.

Eventually, Schultz wants the class to become a club where kids can work on their own with the software.

“I’m hoping [the class] brings a better understanding of the technology,” Schultz said. “I’m hoping they get an idea or understanding the game itself and how coding works.

“We’re always adding new and interesting things,” he said. “But we always start with teaching you the basics and hopefully the creativity takes over from there.”

Faced with a new era of libraries – one that has people of all ages use different technologies – the video gaming class is just one technology-focused class the Westmont Library offers.

“Obviously it’s more import than ever with a technology based society for kids to begin using technology at a young age,” marketing coordinator Kate Buckson said. “It’s become such a daily part of their life, we just try and have things available whether it’s a class or piece of technology available to help them get used to it at a younger age.”

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