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Libraries and SEI offer solar program for teens

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The 2017 teen summer reading program at Delta County Libraries is about more than just reading. Participating teens will also design, build, create, engage, volunteer, learn and share during the eight-week-long program. Library staff expect incentives like weekly drawings for books, comic books, free food and other prizes, as well as a chance to win a drone, to help the program gain in popularity and increase attendance.

"Teens tend to be a harder population to reach," says Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries. "We strive to make the teen program fun, engaging and rewarding so that we can attract and maintain attendance from year to year. It is so important that teens are involved in our programs and that they use our libraries throughout the summer and year-round."

The weekly program schedule for each library, although varying slightly in content, will all fall within 2017's theme of "Build a Better World." Through a partnership with Solar Energy International, each library will offer a program on solar power this summer.

"It seemed like a natural collaboration given this year's theme," Hart states. Solar Energy International is a non-profit educational organization that provides industry-leading technical training in renewable energy. Its mission is to empower people, communities and businesses through renewable energy. "SEI has classroom, online, and hand-on lab classes in both English and Spanish and we attract students from all over the world," explains Beata Ramza, an intern for SEI.

Like the libraries, SEI has made it a priority to engage students and reach out to local schools. Its Solar in Schools program is in its third year of bringing educational events, field trips and speakers into area schools. "We have also implemented one of our online beginner classes, PV101, in local high schools and students can earn a certificate for completing the course," Ramza says. "Paonia and Delta high schools are the two schools participating so far, but we hope to expand it to other Delta County schools."

Ramza and other staff at SEI did not hesitate to get involved with the teen summer reading program. "We could not be more excited about partnering with the libraries in Delta County," Ramza says. "Our upcoming library events are hands-on, solar energy activities for teens, to show them how exciting and practical it is to harness the power of the sun."

Participating teens will learn the basics of solar energy, build a solar powered water fountain, wire and power small electronics with solar panels, and design and use a solar cooker. The program is in Paonia on June 15, Delta on June 22, Hotchkiss on June 28, Cedaredge on July 14 and Crawford on July 20, all at 2 p.m.

In addition to the solar program, teens can enjoy a variety of other weekly programming on topics such as sculpture, design, community engagement, white box creations, architecture, career exploration and more.

Register for summer reading online at www.deltalibraries.org, "Summer Reading," or by visiting your local library.

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