Just in time for the summer school break, Surrey Libraries is now offering children the chance to learn about coding by borrowing one of 90 Dash robot kits from the city’s 10 branches.

Dash robots operate like remote-controlled cars that kids can program to act in certain ways. The toy can dance, light up, make sounds and move around obstacles and users do not need any previous coding experience to play. A mobile device is needed to download two apps so users can program and play with their new sidekick. Sara Grant, youth services manager with Surrey Libraries, commented:

“Our children, they’re really growing up in this new world. The digital age and digital literacy almost became basic literacy during this time. We really want them to understand how technology works, how the technology around them works because it’s going to be part of their future.”

Grant said the kits became available at the end of June and the response from the public has been overwhelming. As of Monday morning, there were 600 people waitlisted for their turn with Dash. The kits can be borrowed for two weeks using a Surrey Libraries card. Grant said when the waitlist is not as long, people will be able to take a robot kit home for three weeks.

Grant, speaking Monday on CBC’s The Early Edition, said before the pandemic the library was hosting in-person learning sessions with the robots for kids and they were a big hit. She said while the Dash robots will connect to any Android or Apple device, she recognizes not all families have access to a mobile device and that she hopes to resume those sessions soon so no one is excluded from the fun.

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