With our community partners at Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology (AZStRUT), we were able to host a Techie Camp at the San Xavier Education Center Library in Tucson, Arizona. The Techie Camp is a hands-on introductory workshop to computer hardware for school-aged children. At the end of the camp, participants are able to understand hardware components and take home a refurbished 32-bit laptop with a Linux operating system loaded themselves. Seeing what’s “under the hood” is a starting point for empowering students to become technology producers instead of technology consumers and programs like AZStRUT’s techie camps open important doors for students who do not have the same access to technology programming as their peers in urban areas.
In addition to the fun and exciting day for the 14 kids in attendance, the program had tremendous benefits for each of the supporting organizations. The San Xavier Education Center benefited by being able to offer engaging STEM programming otherwise unavailable to the community. In addition to supporting their mission to donate refurbished electronics to Arizona schools and nonprofits, AZStRUT was able to expand their service area: this was the first camp held outside of Maricopa County and the first camp to serve a tribal community. The benefits for my host institution, the Arizona State Library, were to collaborate with two community anchor organizations, to support library services in underserved areas, and to learn about and anticipate the logistics involved in facilitating future techie camps throughout rural and tribal Arizona next year. I’m grateful for this special collaboration and for the opportunity to support young, curious minds.