It’s Volunteers’ Week 2016! A time to celebrate all the amazing activities of our Code Club volunteers across the country – so we wanted to profile some of the fantastic people who are out there busy helping to inspire the next generation of digital makers.
First up, Lizzy Atkinson, a Software Engineering student in Northern Ireland. Read more about her volunteer story below:
Why I started Code Club
My name is Lizzy Atkinson and I am a placement Software Engineering student at a Company in Belfast called Kainos.
My company encourages employees to get involved in delivering Tech Outreach activities to kids in local schools to help promote confidence in young people’s ICT skills. I chose to become involved in Code Club because I remembered the lack of ICT focused activities I had in school growing up, and I hoped that by offering a Code Club some kids could really benefit from the experience.
Starting the Club
The Code Club website was really easy to use, and within minutes I was in contact with a local school who were eager for a volunteer. I arranged a meeting with Audrey, the Primary 6 teacher/school ICT co-ordinator who showed me the ins and outs of the school computer network, and set the date for the first club.
At first, I thought about so many things that could go wrong. What if the kids knew more than me? What if I couldn’t control the classroom? After my first Code Club lesson, I realised that I had nothing to worry about, and it was actually really fun!
The kids were one of the best things about Code Club! Their enthusiasm was infectious, and the rate at which they picked up programming in Scratch was incredible. Sometimes they got frustrated when they couldn’t work things out, but I found they really benefitted if I took 5 minutes to sit down beside them and walk through the problem logically and prompted them to come up with the solution themselves. There were of course one or two prodigies who finished the worksheets well before class ended, so it was sometimes helpful to ask them to help their friends if they got stuck, as they liked to show off that they knew what to do!
It was really impressive when one of the kids asked their dad to buy them a Raspberry Pi, which he brought in to run Scratch on for our last few sessions.
What I got out of it
Running the Code Club has made me more confident in my ability to manage my time more effectively, as I had to make sure my regular work was done in time to enable me to leave the office early. I left the school each week with a massive smile on my face knowing the kids were enjoying the club, and it was so rewarding.
Audrey has asked me to come back next year to run another club when I am in my final year in University, and if I am able to I definitely will!
Code Club has been an incredible experience, and it was really easy to get involved. If you are thinking about it, just go for it!
Think you could run a Code Club in your local area? Visit our website to sign up!