Dash the Coding Robot can be programmed to react with lights and sounds, respond with custom phrases and perform movement patterns such as a dance. 

LINCOLNTON – Lincoln County Schools is partnering with the Lincoln County Public Library to host the 2019 Lincoln County STEM Fest Saturday, April 13, in the media center at Lincolnton High School.

“Basically, this is kind of a showcase of the different kinds of technologies that the libraries and the schools have to offer,” Lincoln County Public Library Program and Outreach Coordinator Phillip Overholtzer said. “It’s mostly going to consist of technology available through the library, and we’ve got a lot of the new coding robots, and what I mean by coding robot is that they’ll be able to put codes in to make the robots do different things. Then, of course, we’re going to have some hands-on crafts and we’ve got a couple of teachers coming out that are going to do some STEM programs.”

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has become a greater focus for Lincoln County Schools in recent years, and programs offered through the Lincoln County School of Technology have opened doors to students in those fields. The library has been equally focused on providing STEM enrichment activities for the county’s youth, with Director Jennifer Sackett writing numerous grants that have allowed the library to purchase a wide array of coding robots, many of which cost hundreds of dollars.

“Our positive partnership with the library allows our students access to STEM activities that they might not ordinarily have the chance to experience,” Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Lory Morrow said. “The STEM Fest is a family event for families and all ages of children, and it’s designed for hands-on learning, skill learning and as a means to develop interest in coding robotics and animation as our students are exploring their interests and learning about science, technology, engineering and math.”

Some of the activities at STEM Fest will include Cubetto, a wooden robot designed to teach the basics of computer programming through adventure, Ozobots that operate and perform tasks through color coding, several Lego activities with a focus on engineering and stop-motion animation techniques that physically manipulate objects to make them appear as if they’re moving on their own.

“We have different robots here at the library that span the spectrum of grade levels,” Overholtzer said. “We have some that are great for kindergarten and first graders, and then we’ve got some that are more appropriate for high school students. We go out on a regular basis to the various schools to do a little technology program, where the kids do get to play with these robots and learn how to work them. They just love it because it’s learning by play. It’s almost like playing video games, yet it’s teaching them sequential coding.”

The partnership between the schools and the library has been fostered to familiarize students with coding at a young age as the world and its industries become more based in technology.

“A lot of the jobs becoming available these days are based in industrial technology, where people are playing with robots,” Overholtzer said. “Robots have already taken over the car industry, and many of the tech industries like Apple are run by robots because many of those electronics have to be made in a clean, sterile environment, so it’s a person standing behind a window programming these robots to make the computers. We’re seeing a big push to teach kids more about the industrial technologies and trade industries.”

The 2019 Lincoln County STEM Fest will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event is family oriented and all ages are welcome to attend. Call 704-735-8044 for more information.


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