Growing Up and Making a Difference
When 12-year-old Brandon Flexman walked into the RCLS El Cerrito Library three years ago, his enthusiasm and eagerness immediately caught the eye of Library Manager Nancy Reiter. The Library’s 3D printer workshops were particularly fascinating to the preteen.
“Brandon attended all the workshops and was so impressed with the 3D printer that he sold oranges from his own grove and saved the money to fund his own 3D printer,” Nancy said.
With a clear talent for coding, Brandon quickly became an expert in designing 3D printing projects. Nancy was impressed not just by his passion but also by his knowledge gained through homeschool study and a mentor-mentee relationship was born.
Mentoring and teen community engagement are strongly correlated. Positive role models have a lasting impact on teen independence and confidence. Providing teens with leadership opportunities is just one way libraries positively impact communities.
Brandon’s knowledge was matched by commitment. “I started to volunteer at El Cerrito a lot,” he said. “I would sit down with Miss Nancy and she would talk about programs.” Nancy recognized Brandon’s strong work ethic, positive attitude and commitment to helping others. Those qualities, combined with his skill at “fixing stuff,” inspired Nancy to suggest Brandon plan and provide STEM programs for teens.
Brandon attended all the workshops and was so impressed with the 3D printer that he sold oranges from his own grove and saved the money to fund his own 3D printer.
An eight-week-long CS First coding workshop for students age seven-12 was Brandon’s most recent offering and also served as his Eagle Scout project. He also conducted STEM programs using LEGO Wedo software, Makey Makey and 3D printer during the summers of 2017 and 2018. All of Brandon’s programs were well attended and in just three years Brandon has become a role model for younger children.
While the 3D printing equipment initially drew Brandon to the Library, the serene and inspiring El Cerrito atmosphere motivated him to stay. “One thing I like about the El Cerrito Library is the big selection of books and databases. It is very helpful for research,” he said. Brandon’s goal is to become a computer scientist with a focus on 3D animation and work at Disney or Pixar.
Big goals. Brandon has shown he has what it takes to reach them, making the most of resources like the Library and helping others along the way.