Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach upgrades its technology

If the kids can design it, they can build it, Greg Bridgeman said earlier this week at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s canyon branch.

Bridgeman, the center’s education director, spoke about the 3-D printer the club purchased thanks to a grant from Cox Communications and the James Cox Foundation.

The telecommunications company awarded the club $15,000 earlier this year to upgrade its technology offerings for children who visit the club after school to work on school assignments, receive tutoring or explore concepts they’ve learned about inside the classroom.

With the money, the club also purchased 13 laptop computers, which Bridgeman said will help in preparing students for future academic and career work.

“We want to get younger kids integrated sooner so, technologically, they understand how to use a computer before they have to use it in school,” Bridgeman said.

The club’s technology center has desktop computers, but laptops provide enhanced features, such as a camera at the top of the monitor and faster wireless access.

On Tuesday, Bridgeman oversaw about a dozen children in grades 2 through 5 who attend school in either Laguna Beach Unified or Capistrano Unified districts.

Top of the World Elementary student Alex Radabaugh, 9, said he likes the way he can minimize images on the screen.

“It’s easier to control than other computers,” Alex said. “They are really fast.”

Bridgeman knelt by the 3-D printer, explaining to Alex how the device works.

A person feeds plastic filament through a tube to the printer head. The plastic then melts, and the printer follows the design that has been programmed into the machine.

Bridgeman said the amount of time it takes to produce an object varies depending on the printer’s size and complexity of the product.

“We will run a 3-D printing program,” Bridgeman said. “Now it’s more of an open forum. We keep it education-based. They’re not playing video games that are not giving a return.”

The club will hold a public event to celebrate the new technology at 3 p.m. Sept. 21 at 1085 Laguna Canyon Road.

For more information about the club, visit bgclagunabeach.org.

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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