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Cedar Rapids library’s new ‘tech van’ addresses underserved communities, summer learning loss

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:27 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Like many parents, Tamara Strecker says the inconsistency of this year, switching between virtual, and in-person learning was difficult on her kids.

“It’s just been so hard with just having small groups and just the worry about COVID,” Strecker said.

With summer now here, Strecker wants to help her 9-year-old catch up on things he missed out on this year.

“When my older son was in third grade, he actually had a technology class that was after school. My son who just finished third grade right now, obviously, his school couldn’t provide that because of COVID so that opportunity was lost,” Strecker said.

That’s one of the reasons they were at Jacolyn Park Monday afternoon. Alongside the city’s Rollin Recmobile this year will be the library’s new mobile technology van.

“This is our opportunity to really reach our public with a lot of the fun things in the library has to offer,” Kevin Delicki, the library’s programming manager. “We’re hoping to get people access to different types of robotics from little kids all the way up to adults. We have circuitry. We have soldering kits. We have podcasting equipment, and laptops.”

Parents can also register for their summer DARE program, aimed at combatting summer learning loss.

“Kids have had such a difficult year with school being interrupted, then being at home and not at home and it can really be disengaging from the joy that can especially come from reading,” Delicki said.

Delicki said the goal with the van is to get these resources to underserved communities. The van will be at four parks weekly this Summer, and plan is to keep it going into the Fall.

“We hope bringing the technology that’s on the van into classrooms, schools and into workplaces and really start connecting people with those new and emerging technologies and those workplace development skills even at a really young age,” Delicki said.

People can see a full list of where the van will be throughout the Summer on the library’s website.

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