Volunteer stories: Art Knipe

If you’re thinking of starting a Code Club in September for the new school year, now is the perfect time to register as a volunteer to run a Code Club.

For volunteers looking for advice or tips on running a Club, we know it’s often useful to hear from others’ experiences. Art Knipe, who volunteers at St Malachy’s Primary School in Armagh, Northern Ireland, shared his Code Club story with us:

Getting started:

Our club started due to the coincidence of finding Code Club flyers in a local tech community hub, Farset Labs, as well as seeing my brother’s primary school starting their own “coding club”.

Robot - 015A brief chat with the principal convinced him to sign the school up to Code Club and take me on as a volunteer. The journey since has been an abundance of learning for all of us.

I’ve had an interest in coding for several years, but only began learning it two months prior to running the club. There is heaps of help available to anyone willing to give up their time to this cause and Code Club have formed a solid foundation for our set off.

Code Club projects & how the club is run:

Code Club’s resources are amazing. This goes not only for children, but adults as well. Having a try at one or two of the projects is a great way to get an ideas of what is possible to create with code.

The projects stand above all other resources I’ve found to date. Originally, we tried severalRobot - 002 resources including creating our own challenges and activities. Changing to Code Club projects takes the pressure off volunteers, so we can focus on helping kids make stuff they like rather than thinking of what to show them.

Our philosophy is to spark interest and show what is possible rather than teach. This lets the children drive their own learning. Having choice of which projects immediately engaged them. Since then I also introduced mini challenges – such as making a tilted square – alongside the projects. Each week kids choose to do whatever they like!

We end each session with an optional show and tell, where everyone gRobot - 019 copyets to see and try each-others creations. Most importantly, I always ask if they had fun and hearing a yes drives us to do it again.

We’ve been running since the start of the current school year and plan to continue indefinitely. At the moment, the club is ran by myself and a teacher, we’re in the process of getting a teacher to take over for the following year.

Code Club’s support is a huge factor in our club’s success. Thank you!