Spotlight on Rotary Club ScratchJr Workshops

Last Updated by Kate Spears on
This week on the WCTE Get Ready To Learn radio show, host Cynthia Putman is joined by special guest Dr. Tammy Knipp, president of the local Breakfast Rotary. They shared more about a milestone with Putnam County students: a Family Creative Learning Workshop that resulted as a partnership between the Cookeville Breakfast and Noonday Rotary Clubs and WCTE.
 
The goal of the workshop, which took place at Northeast Elementary School, was to teach computer coding to children while also engaging their families. 
 
Knipp was quoted recently in the Herald Citizen as saying, "All the Rotary Clubs in our area are part of Rotary International District 6780. They do district grants every year. So this is a multi-club grant. We both put in funds, and we both put in volunteer hours."
 
The Cookeville Rotary Club organized on October 8, 1935. Then, there were 3,855 Rotary clubs in 79 countries with 162,000 members. In 2005, Cookeville Rotary was one of the largest clubs in District 6780 with about 160 members.
 
Putman has already been working with Knipp through her work with Putnam County schools in the extended learning programs and WCTE has held other Family Creative Learning Workshops, including at Jere Whitson elementary. 
 
Knipp said she decided to apply for the grant after attending that workshop earlier this year. 
 
Said Knipp, "I attended that and fell in love with it and said we need to write a grant and do that at Northeast Elementary School. "
 
The workshops center on the coding app ScratchJR. Scratch, an app initially developed by a few of MIT's big brains, is one of the leading platforms in engaging teens in the process of coding.
 
PBS Kids jumped on board to partner with them in creating a version that features PBS television characters and settings. The app not only breaks coding down into a form suitable for the 5-8 year old range, its storytelling potential allows it to serve as a tool for learning narrative structures and practicing writing. 
 
The Rotary grant was written to target non-English speaking families, but Putman and Knipp want to make it clear that no one was turned away. A total of 20 families signed up for the workshop, including 37 adults and 44 children.
 
Because the workshops incorporate resources that are accessible for free, families can go home and continue their learning and engagement. The families also did a Purple Pinky project as part of the workshop.
 
The Purple Pinky project is a way to raise awareness about International World Polio Day. When polio vaccinations are performed worldwide, children's fingers get a little bit of purple dye, which helps raise awareness that they have had their dose. 
 
Director of Schools Jerry Boyd, who is also president of the Noonday Rotary Club, believes partnerships are key. Boyd went on to name WCTE as a strong partner, citing the good connection the station has with the school system. 
 
Knipp added, "Putnam County schools is a huge part of this because they provided the open door to reach families, so it's just a perfect fit all the way around."

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