Dreams on track: Inspiring the next generation with industry connections

Children often dream about amazing careers as astronauts, inventors, or racing car drivers. By introducing them to industry professionals, we have the opportunity to bridge the gap between dreams and reality.

After more than 35 years, Gary Foote, Chief Information Officer at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, returned to his former primary school in Cambridgeshire, UK. He brought with him not just memories, but also a box of Formula 1 car electronics, a wealth of experience, and a humble request to join their Code Club session. 

We accompanied him on this journey to discover why he believes it’s crucial for children to engage with industry professionals, and to hear what he thinks of Code Club. 

Gary a classroom at a table with a group of children surrounding him
Gary having fun at Code Club!

Someone like me

When children see professionals who they can identify with succeeding in STEM fields, it sends a powerful message and introduces a sense of possibility that they too can dream big and their dreams can become a reality.

Although few 6-year-olds (16%) worry about what job they will get in the future, by age 11, 46% are worried, and this increases to 65% by age 15. Seeing a future that they could aspire to is vital in supporting young people to understand how they can take action to make that future a reality.

“I’ve been obsessed with anything four wheels since I was a toddler, and began programming computers while still in primary school. It wasn’t until I was in my teenage years that I realised I could combine my two passions, and that combining motorsport and computing was a career possibility. I love being able to show children that there are opportunities in Formula 1 for people across all walks of life and expertise, not just driving! From STEM subjects like maths and engineering well into the arts, design, and creatives.”

Gary Foote, CIO at Haas F1

Code Club in action

The journey from school to the workplace becomes real for young people when former students like Gary come back into schools as speakers or Code Club leaders. These experiences can help broaden students’ horizons and enable them to make more informed choices, helping them to shape their future lives.

“It’s important for children to have the opportunity to talk to industry professionals, as they are the future. They will be driving the innovation of future technology platforms — they will be solving big world problems.”

Gary Foote, CIO at Haas F1

How many sensors?

In a Formula 1 car, more than 220 sensors meticulously monitor every input and output throughout a race.

Inputs and outputs are key concepts we teach young learners at Code Club. Thanks to the knowledge gained through their Code Club sessions, the children had an insight into how sensors function within a car, learning how the information gathered by these sensors enables engineers to ensure optimal performance of the car.

“The children were brimming with curiosity and loved hearing about the world of Formula 1. It can sometimes be challenging for children to understand the real-world
application of STEM, so to hear how the concepts they are learning at Code Club can be used to solve problems in Formula 1 was enlightening for them!”

Zoe, Code Club Programme Coordinator

Don’t forget that Code Club has a ‘Code Club explains computer science’ poster series showcasing key concepts such as inputs and outputs, selection, and variables. If you run a Code Club, you can log in and download the posters from the website.

Our ‘Code Club explains computer science’ poster series

Gary sums up his Code Club experience

We regularly ask young people to summarise Code Club in just three words, and we were keen to ask Gary for the three words he would choose too!

Here are the three words Gary picked to sum up his Code Club visit:

“These kids are the future of technology; we have an obligation (and especially as a technologist) to mentor, guide, and help these children come up through these technology platforms, so technology can keep on developing. I really see this in Code Club.”

“The enthusiasm these children have is wonderful! As adults, we could take a lot from that.”

“Children (and adults) perform at their best when they do something they enjoy.”

Following Gary’s Code Club visit, who knows, maybe a Code Club graduate will join the motorsport industry in the future!

If you’re interested in inspiring the next generation, why not consider setting up a Code Club in your local school? Find out how: https://codeclub.org/en/get-involved

Micro-interview with Code Club alumni, Oliver

In our micro-interview blog series, we’re chatting to educators and young coding enthusiasts to hear about their Code Club experience.

When we received a message from 17-year-old Oliver, asking about the possibility of obtaining a Code Club lanyard to serve as a reminder of his experiences at Code Club, we knew we needed to find out more!

So we asked Oliver to tell us about his time at a Code Club in Dursley Library, Gloucestershire, which fueled his passion for computer science, leading him to study it at both GCSE and A level. Here’s what he said…

What inspired you to join Code Club?

I’ve always been fascinated by computers, but my primary school (like many) had a very limited ICT offering. I wanted to take a step on from Scratch, so joining Code Club was a natural choice for me!

So, when I was 8, I attended Code Club at Dursley Library. Among the local clubs my mum discovered, Code Club was by far the best — the resources were really well planned and helped to build up your coding skills.

How did participating in Code Club influence your interest in computer science?

Code Club at Dursley Library shaped my interest in computer science. The engaging activities and the guidance of the sixth formers running the club fuelled my passion for the subject. Every week we learnt a new skill and combined it all into a short Python game. The sessions were really fun, and I still sit down some weekends and just play around with Python!

What skills did you gain from Code Club that benefit your current studies?

The experience of coding helped, as coming into secondary school I already had some knowledge of Python. As well as this, I built a small Python script that colour-codes my virtual timetable, which I still find incredibly helpful!

Away from computer science, my existing knowledge of Python helped enormously when learning algebra, as I could apply my understanding of variables to maths! Don’t all laugh at once!

How has Code Club influenced your career direction?

I think Code Club had a huge impact! As soon as I joined my secondary school, I knew that I enjoyed programming and that I wanted to study computer science for GCSE. I attended activities, went to workshops, and even managed to go on a school trip to Silicon Valley. All of this got me excited for the future, and my experiences in Code Club played a pivotal role in shaping my career direction and is a key factor in why I now study computer science for A level.

What makes Code Club a great space for learners to explore computer science?

In my experience, the groups in Code Club have always been small, so there’s loads of time to play around and try new things. One of the key things I took away from it was that it’s OK to play around and get things wrong.

What advice would you give to other children thinking of joining a Code Club?

Go for it! It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore your interest in computers and learn in a fun and engaging way. It can be challenging, but once you get started, there’s nothing more satisfying than having your ideas appear on the screen before you!

Thank you, Oliver, for sharing your experience with us. And yes, we sent him a lanyard!

If you enjoyed this micro-interview, check out our micro-interview with young coder Terrell (9) and learn more about his experiences.

You don’t need any coding experience to run a Code Club, and you can help more young people like Oliver learn vital coding and digital skills for the future. Start a club today!

From Nepal to Uganda and beyond: our global Code Club network

At Code Club, it’s our mission to put a club in every community in the world. Ellie Proffitt, our Global Partnerships Manager, shares more on how we work with like-minded organisations around the globe to help make this goal a reality.

Two people hold the Code Club sign outside of a building
Growth Partner, Generación Tec

How can we help every child around the world access the fantastic opportunity of being in a Code Club? This is a question we think a lot about. Ensuring all children have access to digital making is a global challenge, and we want to be leading the way to find a solution.

We have Code Club colleagues based in the UK, Ireland, India and the United States, but unfortunately, we haven’t figured out a way to clone ourselves so that we can be based in every country in the world — yet!

This is why our partnerships with other organisations are so vital to our mission. We team up with others to help us grow our Code Club community in locations that we would otherwise struggle to reach. Thanks to the work of our partners, there are Code Clubs in rural villages in Malawi, isolated parts of Northern Canada, First Nations communities in Australia, and in thousands of villages, towns, and cities in between.

A map of the world highlighting where partners are
Where are partners are in the world

Our partnership programme

Organisations join our global partner network to work with Code Club and grow our club community in their local area, or even across their entire country. Our partners share our vision to give every child the skills, confidence, and opportunity to change their world, and are committed to helping us achieve this.

In return, we provide them with our free, high-quality resources, including online training, community events, and easy-to-follow projects to support them in their coding journey. We also translate our projects into various languages, so that more people around the world can use them and children get to experience coding without a language barrier.
For many partners, running a Code Club gives them an opportunity to learn to code alongside their young people.

From Kathmandu to Kampala

The organisation Digital & Beyond was already working with schools and educators in Kathmandu, Nepal, to support them with digital literacy. They joined our global partner network as a way to provide more children with the opportunity to learn to code, as most students were not receiving any kind of formal computing education. With support from Code Club, they have been able to set up over 15 clubs in the past 4 months!

A young coder standing at the front of a classroom sharing his project.
A Code Club member from Nepal shares his project

We applied to partner with Code Club because of our passion for education and wanting to contribute to teaching valuable skills to children, enhance their critical thinking skills, and create a culture of working in teams to solve real-world problems.
To expand the Code Club initiative beyond a single location, the partner network provides guidance and support for scaling up our efforts to reach more students in Nepal.

Sagun Dhungana, CEO of Digital & Beyond

For Silver Bolt, a partner based in Kampala, Uganda, Code Club fits perfectly with their own mission to break down the barriers to computing education. As well as supporting students in schools, Silver Bolt have been working alongside other organisations in their community to encourage more girls to get into computing.

So far, the Code Club partner programme has ignited a passion for coding and technology among young learners in Uganda, opening doors to a world of possibilities.

We recently trained a community-based organisation that empowers underprivileged girls with practical skills. By adding coding to their curriculum, we’ve opened up new horizons for these young learners. Our collaboration with Code Club not only aligns perfectly with our mission but also supplements it by enabling bridging of the digital divides and empowering underprivileged communities.

Maryanne Karamagi, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Silver Bolt

These are just two examples of how our global partnerships are bringing Code Clubs to young people around the world. If you want to see more examples, check out this micro-interview from Solomon and find out why Code Club is forming an essential part of young people’s learning journey in The Gambia.

Could you become a Code Club partner?

Our global partner programme is now open to applications from organisations around the world! If you are part of an organisation that shares our vision and values, and has the ambition and capacity to grow Code Club in your local communities, find out how you can get involved