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Tap into Your Child’s Tech Talents with Free Library Program

Orange County Library System offers Whiz Kids, a series of popular, free classes to boost computer skills and media literacy. Take a look…

It may have been the day before Thanksgiving, when turkeys were being stuffed, relatives were in town to visit, and the aroma of apple pie filled local kitchens, but it didn’t keep tech savvy kids from filling every seat in the Technology andWest-Oaks-Whiz-Kids-001Education classroom at the West Oaks Library in Ocoee. The standing room only class, called Whiz Kids, is a new program offered by the Orange County Library System. This particular session engaged the children’s interest by showing them how to create comic strips using a computer program called “Comic Life.”

These classes are an extension of the library system’s successful summer computer programs called Camp Savvy. Wendi Bost, public service administrator with the library system, says that expanding the program was an easy decision. “We noted the success of Camp Savvy over the summer and realized that we had something working well,” she says. Bost points out that parents were looking for predictable, reliable programming, and this weekly computer class seemed to fit the bill.

The Wednesday Whiz Kids classes coincide with early release day for public schools in Orange County, making attendance attractive and convenient for busy parents. In fact, the classes gained such immediate popularity that class offerings on other days have since been added to the rotation at some locations. “Creating a cool new tech club provides a fun and immersive way to engage kids in computer learning,” Bost notes.

In classes, children learn to create comics, animate images, mix music, make movies, and more.  Designed for ages 6 to12 years, Whiz Kids classes are currently offered at the Orlando Public Library, Alafaya Branch, South Creek Branch, West Oaks Branch, and Winter Garden Branch.

Eleven-year-old John Cirrincione attends Whiz Kids at West Oaks. He thinks it’s a blast, but also recognizes that the class helps him to learn.  “It gives me computer skills and I need those when I have to do certain projects for school,” he says. John is a student at Ocoee Elementary.

Sherlyn Reyes, a fourth grader at Ridgewood Park Elementary, has her own reasons for attending. “I want my comic strip published in the newspaper one day,” she says with purpose.

Whatever the reasons for attending, educators agree that children need to develop solid computer skills and become fully media literate in today’s technology-driven world. Monique Coppen teaches at Dr. Phillips Elementary and says computer literacy is a critical part of contemporary education. “Workshops, such as the ones the library offers, help kids build links between the classroom and culture,” she states. “Technology is very much a part of modern culture.”

Computer classes are free to Library District Resident card holders, Fee card holders, and Orange County Property Owner card holders. Others may attend by paying a $10 fee at time of registration prior to class time. Please register with your child’s library card. Registration is available online at www.ocls.info or by calling (407)835-7323.

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