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November 14, 2022 -- Giant Lego displays, IPads with coding programs, and tiny robots rolling around on the floor might not be the traditional library, but it’s the one you see when walking into Liberty Elementary, and that’s thanks to the school's SWAT Team.
Students Who Advance Technology, or SWAT, is a club that allows students to get hands-on experience working with technology. Multiple Literacy Specialist for Library Services Lynda Ray is the Columbus City Schools employee behind the student-led team.
“Just think about Intel. We want to prepare students to work there in different capacities. Students feeling comfortable with technology is very important,” Ray said.
It’s a club offered district-wide, introducing students to tasks from typing to coding.
“I think the biggest thing for me is exposure,” Ray started. “Coding may not be something that someone falls in love with, but if you’ve never seen it, never heard of it, then you could be missing out on a lot of money. I wish someone would have told me more about coding.”
Students at Liberty are getting that chance that Ray didn’t get, working on sites like Tynker and Code.org and getting hands-on experience with Spheros.
“We’re basically coding these little bots to get through obstacles,” fifth grader Christian Kaloko said of the Spheros.
Kaloko worked on the SWAT team at Liberty last year and said he feels he has a good handle on how coding and technology work.
“The point of the Sphero task is to get it from the start point to the X that is at the end of the maze,” he explained. “There’s bars and stuff that we have to program to aim it in the right direction.”
Students are divided into teams so they can work together to find solutions to their coding errors. Ray moves her way around the library, reminding students that the only way to succeed is by trying until they find the correct solution.
“I want them to know that they can do it and not to limit themselves and don’t be afraid to try it because the main part of coding and technology is you’re not always supposed to get it right. It’s all about perseverance,” Ray said.
Ray visits any school in the District which requests starting a SWAT club and works with librarians or a designated teacher to continue the work.