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Cedar Rapids library rolling out mobile technology lab

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- It's called the Tech-to-Go van and it's a hands-on, experiential mobile technology lab, equipped with laptops, e-readers, tiny robots and 3D printers to give kids and adults alike an opportunity to explore their interests and learn new ones with some emerging technology.

"And then find what they're interested in, find what excites them, find maybe where they have a talent that they didn't expect and then we can connect them to organizations and other places in our community that can really help them take that next step," Kevin Delecki said.

Delecki is the Programming Manager for the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

There are tiny circuit boards to teach electrical programming and coding.

"They'll draw and color different flowers with that conductive tape," Delecki said. "Then when they touch the flower, it will play a different song that goes with that type of flower so, 'Tiptoe through the Tulips" and things like that."

Then there are the tiny robots to teach scratch coding skills.

"It's teaching those pretty complicated skills in a way that's almost like coding by Lego," Delecki said. "Where you're just fitting together the different blocks into something that works."

Those tiny robots can also be used to race and create art by driving them through blobs of paint on a large canvas.

If all of this makes you want to be a kid again, you can.

"This is something most adults want to play with, too, when they see them running around," Delecki said.

As children and parents interact with the technology, the library staff will respond to what they learn along the way.

There is a long game plan that includes bringing podcasting kits to schools.

"Working with middle school students and having them interact with grandparents about their life story," Delecki said. "Then be able to bring those audio clips back and edit them into a singular story from their school."

Delecki hopes to teach them to use technology to record history and history in the making.

The library secured grant funding from the Giacoletto Foundation, which helped purchase the van, and Collins Aerospace, the Alliant Energy Foundation, ITC Midwest and the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation.

The Tech-to-Go van will go out to the parts of the city where people may not have access to the library's two locations or have the fastest internet access. Starting June 7th, the Tech-to-Go van will visit Jacolyn Park, Hayes Park, Cleveland Park and Green Square Park.

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Michele White

Cedar Rapids Multimedia Journalist

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