How an employee volunteering scheme is inspiring the next generation to code

Since last autumn, ten volunteers from the Tesco Head Office in Hertfordshire have been supporting children aged 7–9 years at the Code Club running in Welwyn St Mary’s C of E Primary School. Find out the impact volunteering is having on them and the club members.

  Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a female club member.
Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a young club member

What inspired Tesco volunteers to give their time

So why did these Tesco employees get involved in Code Club as part of their company’s employee volunteering scheme?

The first time I heard about Code Club was when I got an email from a colleague. I felt like it would be a good chance for me to teach some of my coding and logical thinking skills to the kids. I wish I had such a club in my school back then, that would have helped me a lot to develop my coding skills and better prepare me to become a software developer for my career.

– Julia Wong, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

[What motivates me is the] enthusiasm of the children and knowing that we’re enabling them with the skills and experience to have a brighter future. It’s particularly rewarding to see so many girls taking part in Code Club, and for them to see the opportunities that STEM subjects and careers might offer them when they are older.

– Tina Stevens, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting female club member with a project.
Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a young member with a project

Seeing how the kids improve

Jessica Shaffner shares how she has seen the children at the Code Club develop each week:  

It’s been great to see those who were a little nervous at first really take ownership of their work and start to experiment with more complex elements week by week. There are a few who were anxious about working alone, to begin with, who now help other children who are less advanced.

– Jessica Shaffner, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Sam Carr is a software developer at Tesco and has been volunteering at the Code Club since 2018:

It’s been wonderful to see individuals who were not as focused at the beginning now working on Scratch projects at home and I’m really proud to show what they’ve done.

– Sam Carr, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Miles Bardon, another Tesco software engineer, has been a Code Club volunteer since January 2019:

Many of them have become confident in using Scratch, to the point where they go home and make their own games, or can help their friends with their problems. They take care of their personal development, relying on us as volunteers to push them in the right direction when they get really stuck.

– Miles Bardon, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Positive impact on the volunteers

Volunteering is also rewarding because it offers many personal opportunities, from sharing skills and experiences to developing your own confidence, while giving something back to the local community.

Although we are volunteering to help the children learn to code, they are also helping us to improve skills that we use day-to-day in the office, such as handling questions and thinking on our feet.

– Tina Stevens, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Code Club volunteer from Tesco  supporting male club member with Scratch project.
Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a club member

Whether you’re an experienced coder or an absolute beginner, volunteering at your local Code Club is a great way to expand your digital skills. Find out how you or your company can get involved by visiting our website.

Young innovators showcase their creations at Coolest Projects

Over the last three months, Code Clubs across the world have been attending Coolest Projects, the world-leading tech showcase for young people that is organised by Raspberry Pi.

Coolest Projects across the world

Coolest Projects provides the perfect opportunity for young innovators to share their digital projects with one another and the public. This year, Coolest Projects events took place in Manchester; Orange County, California; and Dublin!

We caught up with three Code Clubs from across the world who participated, to find out about their projects and how they got on.

“It was like our Super Bowl!”

Makaylah (aged 16) and Roselyn (aged 12) travelled from Georgia to California to share projects they had created in their Code Club at Coolest Projects USA.

Makaylah and Roselyn with their project
Makaylah and Roselyn with their project

Makaylah had built an arcade game using a Raspberry Pi, and Roselynn had made a Raspberry Pi–powered smart mirror for checking the time, weather, news, and your appearance!

The highlight of our year with Code Club was being a part of Coolest Projects. It was like our Super Bowl — the amount of time and effort, along with the progress we made since beginning with Code Club was quite a feat…in fact, we are still recuperating but planning for our next adventures with Raspberry Pi.

– Makaylah and Roselyn

They were able to travel to California with their Code Club leader Yolanda from BHL Middle School, who is a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator.

M.A.D About Litter leaves Scotland and heads to Manchester and Dublin

Bethan, Elsa, Jack, Tara (all aged 11), and Lily (aged 12) all attend Wormit Primary School Code Club in Fife, Scotland.

M.A.D. About Litter explaining their App to judge Maria Quevedo
M.A.D. About Litter explaining their App to judge Maria Quevedo

At Coolest Projects UK in Manchester, the group won the Mobile Apps category with their project  M.A.D. About Litter:

Plastic and other litter cause significant harm to our environment. Our app encourages everyone to make a difference, maps litter black spots, recycling points, and converts litter into points for rewards.

– App creators, Wormit Primary School Code Club

Community, technology and ideas

Ayan, George, and Tudor (all aged 10) attend the BF Code Club based in Cluj, their hometown in Romania.

Ayan, George and Tudor at Coolest Projects International
Ayan, George and Tudor at Coolest Projects International

These three creators jumped on a plane and joined Coolest Projects International in Dublin, entering into the Visual Programming category with their project PuFeLass, a quiz about the town of Cluj:

PuFeLass is a fun way to learn things about our hometown Cluj and then test your knowledge with a funny quiz. You can learn a little bit of history, geography and see some cool city landmarks.

– Quiz creators, BF Code Club

When we asked what they enjoyed most about attending Coolest Projects in Dublin, they said:

Showcasing our project to other kids from all over the world, getting to know them, and learning they have similar interests.

– Quiz creators, BF Code Club

Coolest Projects 2020 is on the horizon

Are you curious about Coolest Project 2020? This is what the PuLeFass team says about creating a project to showcase:

Don’t worry that your project isn’t perfect! It’s not about that! It’s about having fun with technology, learning new things, being part of such a great community, about feeling that anything is possible!

– Quiz creators, BF Code Club

The team from Wormit Primary School shared some inspiring advice too:

Don’t be afraid. It is OK to be a little nervous, but don’t let it stop you from doing something. We had to be brave to enter and come along to Coolest Projects, but we are super happy that we did!

– App creators, Wormit Primary School Code Club

Coolest Projects International
Coolest Projects International

Set up a Code Club today, try our projects, and inspire club members to join us at Coolest Projects 2020.

National Volunteers’ Week: say hello to our volunteers Jeff and Lisa

This week marks National Volunteers’ Week in the UK, and we are celebrating the 18,000 volunteers across the globe who give their time each week to help inspire the next generation to code.

Allow us to introduce you to two of our volunteers in the UK: Jeff, who has been a Code Club volunteer for six years, and Lisa, who started her Code Club because the children she taught wanted to learn more about coding outside of the classroom.  

Meet Jeff

Jeff is a Code Club volunteer at a Code Club in Salisbury who has been volunteering with us for over six years! Jeff became interested in computers when he himself was a child:

I started my computing journey aged 12, with the home computer revolution of the 1980s. In those days, it was expected that you would write your own programs, and we were enthused by stories of teenagers becoming millionaires after creating popular games!

Jeff had two reasons for deciding to give his time to support Code Club:

I was taking a career break, and Code Club was a way for me to stay in touch with the essentials of my industry, especially as I’d moved away from programming. Also, I’d recently moved to the area, and volunteering was a way to get involved with the local community.

As he is one of our longest-standing volunteers, we asked Jeff what motivates him to keep on supporting Code Club and our vision to give every child the skills, confidence, and opportunity to change their world.

It’s nice to see the children developing their skills and especially to be able to encourage and mentor the ones who really ‘get it’. Our club has been running long enough that we’ve had many children returning year after year, and even some who have followed their older brothers or sisters through the club.

For everyone who has just started on their volunteer journey with Code Club, Jeff has this advice:

Different children enjoy different aspects of the projects, and you need to give them a bit of space to explore this, whilst also keeping them moving ahead on the overall task. We’re not trying to turn them all into programmers but to give them an understanding and a flavour of what programming is.

Say hi to Lisa

Lisa teaches Computing to Year 1–6 students at the Arches Community Primary School in Chester.

A lot of the children Lisa taught wanted to do more coding outside of the classroom. While she attended Picademy, Raspberry Pi’s professional development programme, she found a great way to give her students that opportunity: setting up a Code Club at her school!

At Lisa’s Code Club, three quarters of the participants are girls, and all her learners support each other in the sessions:

I love seeing the relationships the members build. They all go to the same school, but the Code Club members are like a little family. As a volunteer, I love watching their creativity, resilience, and collaboration blossom — all the aspects of computational thinking that underpin everything we do in life.

While volunteering, you sometimes come across club members who are nervous or unsure whether they can code. Lisa gives this advice to all her club members:

We love hearing about the moments when you as volunteers see the difference you are making to young lives. One of Lisa’s favourite moments is this:

I taught a girl in Year 5 who cried every time I said we were going to do coding. She really struggled with the concepts and thought this was because she’s a girl. I reminded her that I am a girl, and I can code. I invited her to Code Club and paired her up with a more confident girl. Now she’s in Year 6 and mentors new starters to our club! She is an incredibly talented programmer and is so creative.

If you are one of the 18,000 people who support Code Club each week, we want to say an enormous THANK YOU to you!

Jeff and Lisa support young learners, and so can you!

Could you give one hour a week to inspire the next generation to code, like Jeff and Lisa do? Then sign up and become a Code Club volunteer today.