Staci Offutt, youth instructor for TechShop Pittsburgh, explains the self-watering planter and 3D printing for terrariums during a news conference for rec2tech Pittsburgh at the Phillips Recreation Center in Carrick Monday.
Cathy Lewis, cofounder and executive director of The Sprout Fund, speaks during a news conference for rec2tech Pittsburgh at the Phillips Recreation Center in Carrick Monday.
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Five of Pittsburgh’s community recreation centers will serve as interactive learning spaces this week, offering free after-school programs for kids centered on science, math, engineering and technology.
The weeklong demonstration, Rec2Tech, is a partnership among Mayor Bill Peduto’s office, the city’s Department of Innovation and Performance, Citiparks and The Sprout Fund, the Garfield nonprofit that supports the early stages of local projects.
“We’re really lifting up the visibility of what a program like this could look like if you had it all the time throughout the year using these rec centers,” said Ani Martinez, program associate with The Sprout Fund. “We’re going to heighten everyone’s awareness and really look at the feasibility of bringing programs in ... and making sure that every neighborhood has technology education opportunities.”
Between 150 and 200 children age 7 to 12 are set to participate in the programs from 3 to 6 p.m. each day. At the Ormsby recreation center on the South Side, Assemble and YMCA Lighthouse will help kids marry traditional art making with digital media production and computer programming to produce an interactive exhibit.
The Magee center in Greenfield will open as a lab for kids to learn about biology through hands-on experiments, facilitated by Sisters e S.T.E.A.M. and Citizen Science Lab. TechShop Pittsburgh will help kids learn about engineering by designing sustainable approaches to urban gardening at the Phillips Park center in Carrick.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will help children create playable video games at the Paulson center in Lincoln-Lemington. And the Warrington center in Beltzhoover will serve as a “technology hacker space” in which kids can use 360-degree images they capture of their neighborhoods to build a virtual reality experience for smartphone cardboard virtual reality view.
“We have the opportunity to re-imagine a space where kids come after school, a space that is safe, a place where they’ve had the opportunity to take part in recreation, and now we give them a fun way to be able to learn,” Mr. Peduto said.
Costs included the $8,000 each Sprout paid the providers to provide a week of free programming, $65,000 from Comcast and $50,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, which was part of a larger grant that Sprout received, said Sprout program officer Ryan Coon.
The weeklong demonstration ends with the Rec2Tech Demo Party, an event showcasing the children’s work from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Schenley Plaza. A resource fair featuring agencies serving youth and families and a backpack giveaway for the first 300 kids will be available. More information is available at rec2techpgh.org.
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter molly_born.
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