Bring out the spirit of collaboration in your club with Delmar Code Club!

We took a virtual trip to Delaware, USA to catch up with Delmar Code Club and learn about their experience so far as a new club!

For Delmar Code Club’s co-leader, Daniel Rice, the impetus to start this club was his science education fellowship and a nudge from his professor to “do something”.

Mr. Rice’s answer to that “something” was to start a Code Club in October of last year. He partnered with co-leader Peter Burnham, the engineering teacher at their school, and together they envisioned what is now Delmar Code Club. 

Photo credit: Mr. Mark Connelly

Mr. Burnham firmly believes that “coding is the future” and even though he came to the club with very little coding experience, he felt that their club had “the right mix of people to get everything together”. 

That mix of people consists of seven students, all bringing their own unique skills to the club. Their names are Sam, Logan, Christine, Ben, Eagan, Julianna, and Jackson. We were very lucky to get the chance to hear from both Julianna and Jackson about their experiences alongside their club leaders. 

Julianna has been coding on her own since the 5th grade and shared that she had been looking for coding opportunities in school for a long time when she was encouraged to join Delmar Code Club.

Jackson, on the other hand, has been interested in engineering since the 6th grade. “In our high school, there was never really any kind of class geared towards engineering aside from Mr. Burnham’s class,” he said. “I was excited to hear that there was a Code Club coming up and wanted to try it out.” 

Kicking off the code with Python

To start, the Delmar Code Club met virtually and began working with programming languages like Python and the Turtle drawing library, which resulted in a snowflake designing contest where the students tried to beat Mr. Burnham.

“We had the community vote on which one they liked the most,” said Mr. Rice about the outcome of the contest. “All the kids actually beat Mr. Burnham.”

The club continued exploring other projects under the instruction of Mr. Rice and Mr. Burnham until one particular project prompted Jackson to ask his club leaders if they could take it to the next level. What started as them programming a game using Python’s Turtle library ended up becoming a fully functional arcade cabinet run by a Raspberry Pi computer that can play just about anything they wanted.

Collaboration at its finest!

This is where the true collaborative spirit of Delmar Code Club began to blossom. Some students, like Jackson, took to designing the build of the cabinet itself while others, like Julianna, focused on the code. Everyone had a skill to offer and was also willing to learn something new in order to complete this project. 

Photo credit: Mr. Mark Connelly

When he initially heard about Jackson’s plans, Mr. Burnham said, “I definitely thought it would’ve been too hard, but it really didn’t turn out to be as bad as I would have figured.” Mr. Rice agreed, and said that he was determined to keep an open mind and to never tell his students “no” when they brought their ideas to club sessions. 

“I was a little bit scared when Jackson said we could build this,” Mr. Rice said. “But with Mr. Burnham being a great builder and Julianna being a great coder and Jackson taking the reins, we got it done and I think we have a fantastic piece.” 

To celebrate the club’s achievement, they held a go-kart racing game competition that was open to the entire school, which was a huge hit.

Looking ahead with Delmar Code Club

The future of their club holds many exciting things: 3D printing, a robot derby, and even more game design. For a club that’s only in their first year, Delmar Code Club has accomplished so much, all while navigating the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic.

With such a small group being able to complete so much, it goes to show that anything is possible so long as you have what Mr. Burhham would describe as “kids who want to do the work”. 

If you’re thinking about starting a Code Club or even relaunching a paused club, know that even with the limits we’re all facing, you still can accomplish many exciting things. Mr. Rice’s advice? “Just keep going as far as you can!”

Visit our website today for more information on how you can get a Code Club started near you! 

Ms Usha’s reflections on her journey as a Code Club India educator

Ms Usha, an IT professional and now Code Club educator shares what inspired her to set up a Code Club, how it is helping learners to gain new skills, and why it is important to empower girls to explore digital making!

Ms Usha

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work and live in Dubai as an IT professional, but grew up in Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India. I am a tech enthusiast and believe that it can change people’s lives.

The opportunity was given to me to leave Andhra Pradesh and explore my career options. I wanted to give that chance — that opportunity — to those children in my old village, which was my motivator to go back and set up a Code Club.

 I wanted a chance to learn something new and expand my own skills.

Each week, I run my club online from Dubai and have sixty plus club members attending via the local school in Andhra Pradesh.

What inspired you to volunteer for Code Club?

I learned about Scratch when volunteering with the Ministry of Education AI series, in the UAE [in] 2019. The projects created by the students impressed me and encouraged me to learn to code.

I had the assumption that coding wasn’t meant for children and that they wouldn’t understand complicated concepts. After looking at Scratch and the Code Club projects and resources — I thought to myself “Why can’t they?”, rather “Why can’t I?”.

Learning never ends, one should be a student for life!

I decided to start a club in Andhra Pradesh, as I wanted to develop the skills and bring out the hidden talents of the children within that community.

What skills can children gain with Code Club?

With technology comes freedom of expression and the chance for children to set out and achieve something on their own.

In doing so, they face challenges that they must work through to reach their goals. Coding helps them to establish a strong sense of perseverance and encourages learners to come up with their own solutions.

They can use these skills in computing, or outside of it — in the form of homework issues, disagreements with friends, or other personal hardship they may face.

Why is it important to empower girls to explore digital making?

Girls still face many barriers when exploring computing and digital making opportunities. From gender discrimination [and] language difficulties to low literacy and lack of funding.

There are many hidden skills gained through computing, including problem-solving, teamwork, and self-motivation which will support girls with their future education.

Programmes like Code Club also help to improve literacy and education and is another way to help girls reach their potential.

Can you share what you enjoy most about running a Code Club?

Learners at Code Club have a positive attitude about learning new things. I enjoy seeing their creativity and imagination come to life through code, they support each other even if it’s online. Sometimes, I can struggle with the local language, but students jump in and help me out, whilst supporting each other.

Has Ms Usha inspired you to set up a Code Club? Take a look at our website or contact the Code Club India team at india@raspberrypi.org.

Code Club Iraq is helping learners dream big with code!

Dr Nadia Al-Aboody is the driving force behind Code Club Iraq, she’s been empowering Code Club children and educators since 2016. 

Educator Zahraa and young coders Alaa, Haneen, and Yusuf tell us about the positive impact that Nadia and Code Club has had on their lives.

Dr Nadia Al-Aboody

Dr Nadia Al-Aboody is a lecturer of computer science in Maysan, Iraq, a dedicated Code Club leader, a Raspberry Pi National Partner for Iraq, and an advocate for women and girls in STEM. She tells us:

“When I was a little girl I didn’t find a mentor to help me with electronics, I only heard voices saying I won’t make it. This is why I now mentor girls and female trainers in our Code Club. I want to give them a chance to grow.”

Nadia has been involved with Code Club for five years and is a real role model for many girls and women in Iraq. 

Alaa is dreaming big through code! 

Meet Alaa, aged 10! Alaa joined Nadia’s Code Club in 2020 when she started to dream big with code!

“I want to be famous when I grow up, the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from being a Code Club member will help me achieve my dreams!” 

Code Club is a great space to spark the imagination of young people, to encourage them to explore ideas that interest them, whilst developing their skills. This was one reason why Alaa wanted to join Code Club: 

“At the end of the project, I will see something I have made and it will help me make other projects with new ideas!”

If Alaa was to offer any advice to new club members, she says that you should give it a go as you are guaranteed to have a “really fun time there” — thank you, Alaa! 

Alaa at Code Club

Developing transferable skills 

Zahraa is an electrical engineer and is currently studying for a Master’s in computer engineering; she is affectionately called Nadia’s ‘right-hand woman’! She has been a Code Club volunteer for two years. Zahraa tells us: 

“What attracted me to Code Club is that the team supports children of different ages, and teaches them how to rely on themselves, as well as the basics for programming and logical thinking. 

The training from Nadia has helped me a lot, even outside of club-based activities, and I have been able to use the skills I developed from volunteering at Code Club in other areas of my life too, like public speaking, delivering training, communications and public relations, logical thinking, and of course, coding! 

I would really advise anyone who is thinking about getting involved with us at Code Club to absolutely do it. It’s one of the most rewarding things I have done.” 

Code Club educator, Zahraa

Code Club is supporting future career paths 

Nadia and the team have created safe spaces where children are able to explore coding and discuss future career paths. 

Haneen (14) and Yusuf (10) are siblings who attend Code Club. Haneen has always been excited by programming, but since coming to Code Club, she is now thinking about choosing it as her field of study at university. 

Yusuf wasn’t sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but his Code Club experience has made him sure that he wants to become a games programmer. 

Haneen shares her coding skills in this Code Club Scratch project; have a go and see how you get on! 

Code Club Iraq

To find out how to start your own Code Club, head to www.codeclub.org if you are based in the UK, India or the USA or to www.international.codeclub.org if you are based outside the UK.