News & Media

Incourage sparks teens’ interest in technology

Fri. Nov 22, 2013

SparkFun in Wisconsin Rapids

SparkFun in Wisconsin Rapids

In August, the SparkFun National Tour stopped in Wisconsin Rapids, bringing technology terminology, tips, and tools to area students.

“They learned what goes on inside their computers,” explained Nick Poole, Creative Technologist for the SparkFun Tour. “It’s really simple but people don’t get exposed to it very often.”

SparkFun staff taught students lifelong electronics skills such as programming and building circuits in a one-day workshop. Swanson Labs and Incourage supported the tour for 24 area high school students. Five area businesses donated funds to purchase state-of-the-art Arduino electronic boards.

Mark Swanson, Swanson Labs founder, explained, “Having students explore and play with science and technology is increasingly important because they are going to be out in a world that is very technological. That’s where they’re going to be competing.”

Rebekah Becker, a senior at Assumption High School, agreed. “There were a lot of components from everything we learned today that we can use.”

Jacob Mueller, a Nekoosa High School junior, said, “I didn’t know that that little circuit board could do so much stuff. It’s quite amazing what you can do.”

Although Wisconsin Rapids is the smallest city the SparkFun Tour visited, there are benefits to rural sites. “We find some really enthusiastic? electronics hobbyists in the rural areas,” Poole noted. “There is more freedom to do bigger projects, louder projects. We see a lot of people taking advantage of that.”

In addition to the lessons learned, students took home the Arduino microprocessor to use for future projects. “They can hook up to their home computers and continue exploring the computing concepts we played with today,” Poole said.

Local businesses, schools and individuals worked together to bring SparkFun’s real life technology skills and experiences here. Now, students’ career opportunities are endless.

“We had great involvement from the local high schools and home schools,” Swanson said. “School is out but that wasn’t a problem. We could have easily filled another classroom.”

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  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.