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Teen Tech Zone returns to Carnegie Library of Homestead

Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Carnegie Library of Homestead library director Tina Zins works with 14 year old, Wayne Washington in preparation for this weekend’s relaunch of Teen Tech Zone.  

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By Tim Karan
Thursday, April 10, 2014, 2:26 a.m.
 

After nearly a year on pause, the Teen Tech Zone at the Carnegie Library of Homestead is getting rebooted this Saturday.

Originally established as a four-week workshop last March, Teen Tech Zone is an independent learning class geared toward teaching web design, programming and other useful technology-based skills to local middle school and high school students.

“It started last year thanks to a joint partnership with (Oakland-based nonprofit) Idea Foundry and was funded by the Heinz Foundation,” said Carol Shrieve, director of administration at the Munhall facility. “It was really popular, but we kind of had to let it lapse over the summer because — with places like Sandcastle right down the road — the kids weren't quite as engaged and wanted to be at the pool instead of stuck learning at the library.”

Now that the library has a new director in Tina Zins and a renewed focus on digital literacy, Shrieve said she believes Teen Tech Zone will be better than ever. The Friends of the Library recently donated an iPad station with eight new tablets and the facility was designated as a host site for the Pittsburgh-based Sprout Fund's Remake Learning Digital Corps — a similar after school program for teens focused on coding and robotics.

“Teen Tech Zone is more about learning artistic-based software,” said Shrieve. “Kids will be learning programs for things like music composition, graphic arts and videography.”

The workshops — overseen by local teachers and creative professionals — will be shorter and more concise than they were last year.

“It was difficult to get kids to come to an Adobe Illustrator class every Monday for a month,” said Shrieve. Now there will be either one-hour or two-hour sessions — maybe two days at most — that will just teach the basics of the programs. Then through self-guided tutorials, the kids will earn Mozilla Open Badges — which are sort of a new version of a resume.”

Zins said the first week will be dedicated to issuing digital badges for skills students already know, and future sessions will provide them more access to learn through a hands-on approach.

“It's a way to let kids learn by doing and it's been received very well,” said Zins. “It helps them communicate and thrive in a more digital world — and that's the most important thing we're trying to promote.”

Shrieve said the program is another free, useful resource for area youth to take advantage of.

“Programs like this are more than just helpful — they're fun,” she said. “Kids don't realize they're actually learning STEM-based technology. It's an alternative means of education and, for a community like ours where resources are few and the need is great, this is the perfect fit for our library.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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