Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation looks at a program that involves teenagers passing on their tech knowledge to others. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Scott Olson have the story.
Leah Gessel: Mission one is the first game you will be playing.
Joel Leon: You're doing so far so good right now.
Christina Estes: On the fourth floor at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix --
Anthony Joshlin: Are you guys enjoying your guy’s game?
Christina Estes: Anthony Joshlin and his fellow interns lead a class on video game design.
Anthony Joshlin: I do have him you know do-sit-ups, have them do double jump, you can have him talk, you can have him think. Basically it’s whatever you want him to do, he will do it if he has that function available.
Christina Estes: Thanks to government grants, Phoenix hired 13 high school interns to support classes in the maker’s space, also known as Mach 1.
Terry Ann Lawler: Mach 1 stands for makers, artists, crafters, and hackers and we do everything from paper engineering to science experiments to computer classes and tech classes.
Christina Estes: Youth services manager Terry Ann Lawler says, there’s a special focus on science, technology, engineering, and math often called STEM.
Terry Ann Lawler: When they graduate from high school nowadays, they need to be prepared to go on to college or they need to be prepared to work in the STEM industry. The nice thing about classes in the library that are stem-based, is that they are ungraded, there’s not any pressure for them to perform. It is more of a play-like atmosphere.
Christina Estes: Playing with the 3-D printer is pretty popular.
Anthony Joshlin: It’s an auto clip-on band like hero type things like that. It’s like people actually call and ask if we can make them things from here and from our 3D printer and stuff like that. Our ultimate goal by the end of this year is to actually make a small model house, maybe 10 feet by 10 feet house basically from what we have here.
Terry Ann Lawler: From working here, they get a lot out of it. They get customer service skills, they get tech skills, they get trouble-shooting skills, and they learn how to work in a team.
Leah Gessel: Good job.
Christina Estes: Ask the interns what they learned, and a theme quickly emerges.
Anthony Joshlin: I have a lot more patience than I thought I had.
Joel Leon: I have more patience than I probably thought I did or that I gave myself credit for. This job, when it comes to like I said teaching older people things, you have to be patient. Sometimes they have the attitude like they're willing to learn and other attitude where it’s just like hurry up and get me through what I need to do.
Leah Gessel: I have had adults come in and they will be asking what the class is, and when they find out I'm the teacher, they always kind of look at me funny. Like oh, it's you. But it’s really interesting getting to teach adults just because you don't expect to have that, the roles reversed like that. But I guess in the world of technology, my generation has grown up used to a lot of these things so the older generation is learning from us now.
Christina Estes: We didn't find older people in this class. These students ranged from six to 16.
Joel Leon: So, now you have the choice to put that character in one of the games and you can start making them.
Christina Estes: When the internships end, Joel and Leah plan to attend college, while Anthony will enter the army. He’s already working out with his platoon and applying lessons he’s learned at the library.
Anthony Joshlin: Time is like you know really important in here and in the military, because time, classes have a start time, then the end. Kids have to leave, you know come back, things like that. Also making me aware of things at all times, cause when kids are here, I have to like be able to watch in my peripheral vision to make sure they aren’t wandering off or make sure they are doing the right thing over here, just make sure they are on task things like that.
Joel Leon: Are you guys still on the same level?
Christina Estes: The library hopes to bring on new interns this fall and it sounds like they will have a tough act to follow.
Terry Ann Lawler: I think that anyone of my teens could be president and I would be happy about that.
Ted Simons: These services manager says that they are always looking for adults to share what they've learned or volunteer to teach classes.
Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening