Physical computing kits available for Code Clubs in England

From making your first LED blink to creating a musical instrument, physical computing can bring the ‘A-ha!’ moment into your Code Club.

If your Code Club is running within a school in England, you can hire a selection of physical computing kits from an NCCE Computing Hub for free.

Bringing the ‘A-ha!’ moment to Code Club

Physical computing helps club members to build connections between the real world and programming. By designing, programming, and making their own creations, young people get the opportunity to learn about microcontroller boards, LEDs, inputs and outputs, and so much more!  

The kits are designed so that you can get started straight away. No experience is necessary as you’ll have access to:

  • The Teach Computing guide to physical computing kits
  • Step-by-step projects
  • Our online FutureLearn courses 

What are the kits?

The physical computing kits are available from the 34 NCCE Computing Hubs located at secondary schools across England. The kits are split into trays by type of device, and each tray is suitable for teachers to get started with physical computing at different key stages:

  • Crumble trays – aimed at key stage 2
  • Micro:bit trays – aimed at key stages 2 and 3
  • Raspberry Pi Pico trays – aimed at key stage 4
  • Raspberry Pi 3B+ trays – aimed at key stage 4
This is what a Raspberry Pi Pico tray looks like

How can I borrow a kit to use at my Code Club?

If you’re a teacher in England, you can visit the NCCE Hubs webpage to find your local Hub, then contact them to find out what’s available to borrow. Each computing kit is generally available to use for up six weeks at a time. 

If you’re a volunteer, you can still access the free Teach Computing Curriculum to use in your club. 

I’ve hired a kit. How do I get started? 

The Teacher Guide to physical computing kits provides a detailed explanation of all of the equipment and components included in the kits. It also has information about free teaching resources and training. 

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently launched two fantastic new project paths that your Code Club could explore with the Raspberry Pi 3B+ and Raspberry Pi Pico trays:

Each project has step-by-step instructions to help young coders and educators to learn and develop their coding skills together! 

Raspberry Pi Picos bring Python code to life when connected to breadboards and other electrical components

How have the kits been used?

More than two hundred trays have been loaned out since September 2021. Over 90% of teachers who have borrowed them say that they have used lessons and units from the Teach Computing Curriculum to teach with the physical computing kits, some during class time and others at after-school clubs, like Code Club. 

Ian Cartwright, a teacher from Belvedere Academy, a girls’ secondary school in Toxteth, Liverpool, borrowed a tray of Raspberry Pi Picos to use at his lunchtime club with a small group of 11- to 12-year-old students. Ian started with five students and that quickly went up to a group of ten when they started telling their friends about making the LEDs flash. Ian said, 

“[It’s] massively more engaging than programming Python on a screen — walking into a room with the box of kit grabs their attention straight away. They love the idea of building something physical, like a car. When the lights flash they ask whether they can take their phones out (but they’re not allowed to) so that they can show their mum and dad when they get home.”

Young people can build motorised buggies and bridges with the Crumble tray

Year 5 and 6 students from Purford Green Primary Academy in Harlow, Essex, told us about how they used Crumbles to make buggies drive around tables and control bridges to make them go up and down. When asked how using Crumbles compared with other computing activities, such as using Scratch, one student said, 

“I liked the Crumbles because it helped me develop my block coding and make my bridge move. I couldn’t do that on Scratch.” 

Bring the magic of physical computing into your Code Club and share your adventures with us on Twitter and Facebook

Coding 3D worlds at your Code Club

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released a path of six new Unity projects to help young people take their first steps to create 3D worlds. Find out why Unity is such a versatile tool and how you can use it to stretch your more confident coders.

What is Unity? 

Unity is a free coding platform used by developers, artists, and professionals across the globe.

It’s perhaps best known for its part in the creation of many well-known games — such as the viral hit Among Us — but Unity’s uses extend beyond the gaming world. Medical simulations created in Unity have allowed doctors to learn through 3D interactive experiences, and it can support a wide range of 3D projects, from architectural visualisations, to animations and interactive displays.

3D adventure project

Last year, several young people used Unity to make their creations for Coolest Projects. Their incredible projects included an amazing minigolf game and a virtual reality ‘Escape the Maze’ game. Through our new Unity project path, your Code Club members could build the next gaming sensation or code amazing interactive 3D stories to share with the world!

What can you learn with Unity?  

Unity scripting uses C#, which is a popular object-oriented programming language used by many professional developers. C# scripting tells GameObjects that represent characters, props, and scenery in Unity how to behave and interact. 

For learners who already have some knowledge of text-based coding, Unity opens up an exciting world of new opportunities. Our team has created a path of introductory projects to guide your learners from their first steps in Unity, to creating a self-directed Unity project. 

Before you get started

Unity is a powerful piece of software. Before you use it in your club, make sure you check the system requirements to ensure your hardware is able to run it. 

Our Unity guide takes you through all the steps to download the Unity Hub and Visual Studio. It can take a while to download this software, so make sure to leave plenty of time ahead of your Code Club session!

World builder project

Six new projects 

The new Unity project path builds young people’s skills across six linked projects.

First, there are three Explore projects for young people to get to know Unity: they build their knowledge as they follow instructions to create a 3D game with players, animations, sounds, and effects. 

The following two Design projects ask learners to use the skills they’ve developed to make design choices: they create their own 3D world and add quests and NPCs (non-player characters). 

The final Invent project of the path then asks young coders to fulfil a brief: they create a 3D adventure with a goal that the player needs to achieve. Learners can draw inspiration from a series of examples or use their own interests and experiences to decide the direction of their final project. 

We have a NEW Unity crib sheet to help you build your confidence and navigate these projects with your Code Club.

Unity crib sheet

If you’re based in the UK, the USA, India, or Ireland, visit your dashboard to download the crib sheet. If you’re based outside of these countries, visit the Club Organiser Pack page of the Code Club International website to download the crib sheet.

Your learners can also join The Raspberry Pi team for their first-ever Unity livestream on Thursday 24 March at 6.30pm GMT. The livestream will run for around 45 minutes. It will be the perfect introduction to Unity and our project path for you and your experienced coders.  

Your nine favourite Scratch projects!

Have you ever wanted to know which Scratch projects educators enjoy using in their Code Clubs?

We asked educators and supporters to tell us about their favourite Code Club Scratch projects.

The nine projects below were firm favourites from our community. Find out why they are so special to our educators and how you can use them in your Code Club. There is a perfect project for everyone, from beginners to more experienced coders.

Top nine Scratch projects

1. Boat race

This brilliant racing game is super popular with young coders who love developing their coding skills to create their own variations of the game.

“It’s simple enough for even the younger students to follow but has so much scope for extra features. It’s also a great basis for creating other top-down racing games.”

Darren Townsend, Southwold Primary School Code Club

“I love Boat Race, there are always so many awesome variations/remixes on that project with young people sharing and playing each other’s games and seeing who can make the trickiest map/maze to get through in a fast time!”

Tanya Howden, The Innovation Centre at Tynecastle Park

2. Space talk

The first project in the project path ‘Introduction to Scratch: sprites, scripts, and loops’ provides a great introduction to block-based programming. 

“It’s such an easy way to understand how coding logic and conditions work. Whether you’re a young coder or a volunteer with no coding experience, this is a really fun and accessible project.”

Izzy Ronaldson, Global Community Coordinator

Space talk

3. Chatbot

We have loved seeing so many remixes of the Chatbot project over the years. It introduces learners to use code to join text in Scratch.

“Chatbot is still my all-time favourite [project]. You can use it for quizzes and many other interactive games.”

Queen Elohoghene Justice-Usum, QueTice Code Club, Nigeria

4. Ghostbusters

Ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and sometimes an Easter egg! This brilliant Scratch project really gets coders to be imaginative as they create a game where they can add a variable to store a score. 

“Ghostbusters for sure! I taught a remix Easter egg hunt version a couple of years ago which the children loved.”

Miss Singleton, St Mark’s Primary, Scotland 

5. Catch the bus

Building on the skills from ‘Space talk’, this project helps learners to create a fun animation. They learn how to use the repeat loop, move sprites, and switch costumes.

“I love seeing the look of amazement on the young coders’ faces when the sprites disappear and the bus drives off.”

Darren Bayliss, Programme Coordinator, Ireland

Catch the bus

6. I made you a book

In this project, learners use a project brief to create their own book. They can tell a story or share facts on a subject that interests them. 

“This project has everything, [it] gives the right amount of freedom, flexibility and guidance to young people to create and build on their own ideas — however different or similar they may be!”

Sangeeta Sharma, NGB Code Club, India

7. Grow a dragonfly

This project belongs to our new project path ‘More Scratch: broadcast, decisions, and variables’. Learners make a nature app where a dragonfly grows bigger as it eats insects. They can also explore the sound editor to add and change sounds in the app — headphones are optional! 

“Not only did my code clubbers find out some amazing facts about dragonflies that blew their minds, but when they saw the fab edits they could make to Scratch library sounds they got so creative — since then every session has had an extra level of noise….and I love it!”

Liz Smart, Clarendon Road Code Club, England

Grow a dragon fly

8. Lost in space

An oldie but a favourite amongst our beginner coders (young and old). This Scratch project guarantees to bring a smile to your face and ignite your curiosity to learn more about coding.

“‘Lost in space’ and it’s great to see how much learners enjoy their first Scratch animation.”

Paul Brennan, Rhiwbina Library Code Club, Wales

9. Create your own world

Go on an adventure with your Code Club members and build an adventure world with multiple levels to explore.

“‘Create your own world’ is a great introduction to creating a multi-level game. I absolutely love it!”

Christina Foust, Program Manager North America

Explore our free educational project paths

Whether your Code Club is starting out on Scratch projects or looking to explore other coding languages, we have something for you. 

You can find all the Code Club classics on our projects webpage or explore the all-new project paths, where coders are guided through new coding and design skills to make things that matter to them. 

Have we missed your favourite Scratch project off our list? Share it with us on Twitter, using the hashtag #MyCodeClub.