The bright young minds took part in the Corinne Costin Gibson Memorial Library’s summer STEM program.



The next Elon Musk may just come from Port St. Joe.

Like Musk, founder of Tesla, nine local children have taken an interest in all things technological; ranging from computer coding to robotics.

The bright young minds took part in the Corinne Costin Gibson Memorial Library’s summer STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program that centered around building working robots from materials that were provided.

And like Musk, the students built a small all-electric vehicle.

The four-week program introduced the children to the world of computer code before they got down to the building.

Each of the participants was responsible for coding their own Arduino micro-controller to perform certain tasks for their robot.

They assembled the components to form a working robotic vehicle.

The kids also learned how to use a 3D printer, a new arrival at the library that has even garnered attention from the grown-up library users.

On Monday, the robot build day, students were given a “shopping list” of components, line-by-line directions for assembly, as well as a wiring diagram.

“It’s different from pulling a little robot out of the box,” said Nancy Brockman, the Gulf County Coordinator of the Northwest Regional Library System. “This has given them a little more groundwork to what goes into it.”

The learning experience has not only been limited to the children. Brockman and the other instructors have had a crash course in robotics as well.

The class, which has led to an increase in requests for the 3D printer, has helped Brockman gained more footing with that piece of equipment that she hopes will serve the community well in the future.

Overall Brockman considered the course a success.

Although she originally had 15 children sign up, Brockman believes that the reduced number of nine was more conducive to the first time class.

As for the children who participated, Brockman is hopeful that they have learned valuable skills that they can use in the future.

“The children are interested in it,” Brockman said. “I think they have gained a lot of knowledge because it was apparent that a lot of these terms and ideas were new to them.”

While Brockman is hopeful that STEM education in schools will increase, until then she said the library is ready to carry some of the load.

“I am hoping to inspire some of them to work a little more on coding and doing some more work with different things,” Brockman said.

Next week the students will be given the opportunity to further their coding experience as a guest instructor will come to help them add coding and abilities to their robots.

In August, Brockman hopes to hold a workshop for adults about he abilities of the newly acquired 3D printer and how to operate the machine.

Brockman also stated that she hopes to hold another robot class in the future with leftover materials.