Hackhorsham Code Club Festival 2017, big projection

The Horsham Code Club Festival

HackHorsham’s recent Horsham Code Club Festival was a massive success, with volunteers, kids, and educators from across Sussex coming together for a day of coding, catching up, and exploring the fascinating world of STEAM.


As a Regional Coordinator for Code Club, I’m lucky to work with some amazing partner organisations across the South East of England. One such organisation is HackHorsham, who are based in the charming Mid Sussex town of Horsham. HackHorsham was started three years ago by Gavin Hewins, Marcus Tyler-Moore, and Nik Butler, because they wanted to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths) in the Horsham area.

The idea

In late 2016 Gavin, Marcus, and Nik approached me with an idea: they wanted to run a Horsham Code Club Festival. The event would bring together Code Clubbers from across Sussex for an exciting day of coding and making. It would also help to increase the visibility of young people who are enthusiastic about digital making, and make teachers take note of our efforts and resources, so that coding clubs might in future become as prominent in schools as football teams or choirs. Needless to say, I was on board immediately!

HackHorsham had already gained support for their idea from the Met Office, pi-top, and Horsham-based companies Red River Software and Reduced Hackers, as well as Creative Assembly, the local game developer that produces the hugely successful Total War series. I was more than happy to provide marketing support by advertising the event to local Code Club leaders and talking about it at meetups and events.

The festival

On Sunday 9 July, I made my way to the Capitol Theatre in Horsham, along with three members of the Code Club I run at my daughter’s school with Wendy Armstrong. At the theatre, we met 50 other eager Code Clubbers and their parents. After an introduction to the day from the partner organisations, we headed over to the Horsham Council’s offices, which the Council let us use for free. We kicked off with a workshop run by the amazing Cat Lamin. Cat showed the children how to use pi-tops and Python to make some traffic lights flash – a great introduction to digital making. She and her team were brilliant, and their infectious enthusiasm really got the children going!

Kids play with PiTops at Hack Horsham Code Club Festival

Young coders Morgan and Tilly get to grips with the pi-top. Picture credit: Dennison Studios Photography

After lunch, one half of the children worked with the Met Office using their Weather API and the Raspberry Pi Sense HAT, a device with a display and a bank of sensors. With the help of its temperature sensor, the kids compared the in-room temperature to the temperature reported by the Met Office. Children were also invited to interact with several stands run by the Met Office. Among them was one about the ArcGIS mapping system where kids could create story boards on maps, and one about the Turing machine where they learned about logic. The Met Office also showed the children an old Met Office Supercomputer and a Raspberry Pi cluster computer.

At the same time, the other half of the kids took part in a workshop run by Femi, a remarkable 11-year-old who is a recipient of the Diana Award. He took the time to attend the festival before flying off to Bangladesh to help 100 children from low-income families learn digital making and coding! Femi’s workshop was about Crumble robotics, and saw our Code Clubbers build their own robot buggies and then race them against each other.

There was also a stand run by Gavin Hewins, who was showcasing the always popular Mad Music Machine that uses Sonic Pi and a bank of Raspberry Pis. He encouraged people to alter the coded music the machine plays using its multitude of levers, joysticks, toggles, and sliders.

At 15.00, we all headed back to the Capitol Theatre for a ceremony in which the Code Clubbers who took part were invited onto the stage to get a certificate or award. I was delighted that our Code Club’s team won an Innovation Award for their idea for a Raspberry Pi-powered greenhouse that includes a weeding robot. What a fast-paced afternoon full of fun, laughter, and digital making!

The aftermath

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the amazing job HackHorsham did putting on this event! It was a truly fantastic day, and we’ve had universally positive feedback. Yvonne Swinson, a teacher at Milton Mount Primary School, said: “What a great day for our young coders. Thanks for organising the event. Our Milton Mount team had a fantastic time!”

HackHorsham are already thinking about next year’s event, and they want to make it even bigger and better! So watch this space…

Getting to grips with digital making at Picademy

‘Picademy? What’s it all about?’ I hear you say. Liz, Code Club’s Regional Coordinator for the North West, tells us more…

When I began volunteering with Code Club I had no idea what a Raspberry Pi is, and by the time I started working at Code Club I wasn’t that much wiser. So when the Google Garage came to Manchester, and with it a chance to attend Picademy, the free 2-day CPD programme for UK educators delivered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, I jumped at the chance to go.

There are so many ‘best things about Picademy’ that I’m not sure where to start. The swag was fantastic, the tutors were brilliant, and the workshops were varied and inspirational. On Day 1, we’d covered Scratch GPIO, Python, Sonic Pi, and Minecraft all before lunch, and afterwards expanded our digital skills repertoire in workshops about the Explorer Hat and the Pi Camera. By the end of the day, I’d made flashing things, spinning things, noisy things, and so much more!

If I thought Day 1 was good, then Day 2 was amazing! It was so amazing that I forgot to stop for lunch, and I’m not the kind of person who does that often! Day 2 of Picademy is a hack day where you use your new skills and your imagination to bring something to life. My project was a hat for people playing Minecraft which lights up in different colours depending on which surface Minecraft Steve is standing on – totally useless, completely impractical, and definitely not something that’s going to feature at New York Fashion Week, but so much fun to make! I combined my new knowledge of circuits with some Python code and Minecraft linking, then did a lot of debugging and tweaking until everything worked as intended, and I finished with around 2 minutes to spare!

Each Picademy ends with a big show-and-tell where everyone presents what they’ve made, and there is a lot of laughter, applause, and shared insights. You then you get a badge, a certificate, and are welcomed to the Raspberry Pi Certified Educator community – I think I smiled all the way home!


I’ve been lucky enough to visit Picademy a few more times since then. First I gatecrashed the end of the Picademy at Madlab earlier this year, so I could loudly applaud the new batch of Certified Educators and see their creations firsthand. Then I attended a staff Picademy session at our Cambridge office where the team I worked with created a ‘mug shot’ device (a camera seated on a plastic mug!) that takes your photo, adds a cartoon, and tweets you the result.


If you’re is thinking about attending a Picademy near you, I completely recommend it. And if you’re not able to go to a physical Picademy, have a go at one of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s FutureLearn courses and really immerse yourself in the online community of Raspberry Pi-trained educators – you’ll get loads out of it!

If you’ve already attended a Picademy, make sure you take part in the Raspberry Pi Certified Educators survey 2017


New members of the Regional Team!

CRobot 003ode Club’s amazing Regional Coordinators are our eyes and ears on the ground across the country, attending events and supporting our volunteers and partners on a local level.

We’re really pleased to welcome three new members to the team – Victoria who will be covering the North East, Yorkshire and Humber; Mark who will be our Wales Coordinator; and Caroline, our new South West Coordinator.

We spoke to each of them to find out a little bit more about what brought them to Code Club:


20160427_105209_26088758384_oI’m Victoria, and I am very chuffed indeed to be working for Code Club in such a wonderful part of the world as Yorkshire, Humber and the North East of England.

I grew up in North Yorkshire where as a child I spent many hours coding in BASIC on a ZX Spectrum and saving my very quirky invented games onto a little cassette tape. I continued being an ultra geek by learning the viola and studying Old Norse at university. Since then, I have literally made following my passions into an art form – gaining a PhD in history of art, qualifying as a French translator, singing in a swing trio, and curating my own bilingual children’s library.

I finally began work in a real library in North Yorkshire in 2012 before coming full circle back to coding, and now have the enormous privilege and fun of running Code Clubs and getting to talk and write about them all day!

Do follow me on my personal Twitter for forays into feminism, humanism, libraryism and veganism at @yorkshirewords, but for Code Club chat, it’s @codeclubYandH or @codeclubNE. And my email for anything and everything Code Club related across the whole region is yorkshireandhumber@codeclub.org.uk.


2016-04-25 18.03.05Hi – or ‘Schmae’ (Welsh for hello) – I’m Mark the new Code Club Coordinator for Wales. I live in Rhyl on the beautiful North Wales coast.

My exposure to the world of software and computing started in high school way back in 1982. We used a tele-type machine linked to the local college mainframe. I subsequently went on to study computing at the same college and spent two years learning COBOL, BASIC and various other programming languages. After that I went on to work in various roles in software development, technology and skills training.

I now come to Code Club after returning to North Wales and starting an artisan bakery, of all things! Over the last couple of years I’ve developed a strong desire to help build the homegrown Welsh ‘tech’ and creative capability; and key to this will be skills. So having the opportunity to work with Code Club is perfect for me.

I look forward to working with and supporting our volunteers and supporters across Wales. If you want to get in touch please do, via wales@codeclub.org.uk.


PRO20234Hi there, my name is Caroline and I am the new South West Coordinator for Code Club. My interest in computing started in the 1980’s, with a personal computer called the Sinclair ZX-81, shortly followed by the ZX Spectrum. I literally spent hours typing in the programs from the “Sinclair User” magazine, tweaking the code.

Some years later, it was my maths teacher at Sixth Form who finally convinced me I should drop the idea of studying Graphic Design at Art College and instead concentrate my efforts only on studying Computer Science.

After a BTEC OND (Ordinary National Diploma) in Computer Studies and a HND in Computer Studies, I started my Bachelor of Science Degree Course at Brighton University. After graduating in 1993, I joined Microsoft, where I continued to work for a little under ten years. After having my second child, I decided to take a break from my career.

Giving up the day job however, was not an excuse to miss out on technological advancements and I found volunteering at my children’s school a great way of keeping in touch. When I discovered that Code Club were looking for new volunteers, I decided to get involved. With the help of the STEM Ambassador programme and three other like-minded people, I launched not one, but two Code Clubs in Taunton.

With my experience as a volunteer, I am looking forward to helping others get their own Code Clubs started in my new role as Regional Coordinator. Feel free to drop me a line at southwest@codeclub.org.uk, I look forward to hearing from you!

Our Regional Coordinators are there to support you! Got a question about volunteering, a problem or an issue to address? Get in touch with your local coordinator for support and advice:

Mark Ellis: Wales Coordinator – wales@codeclub.org.uk

Una McDermott: Northern Ireland Coordinator – northernireland@codeclub.org.uk

Lorna Gibson: Scotland Coordinator – scotland@codeclub.org.uk

Liz Smart: North West Coordinator – northwest@codeclub.org.uk

Victoria Sauron: North East and Yorkshire Coordinator – yorkshireandhumber@codeclub.org.uk

Tim Wilson: West Midlands Coordinator – westmidlands@codeclub.org.uk

Katharine Childs: East Midlands Coordinator – eastmidlands@codeclub.org.uk

Dan Elwick: London and East of England Coordinator – london@codeclub.org.uk

Caroline Vaan-Canning: South West Coordinator – southwest@codeclub.org.uk

Dan Powell: South East Coordinator – southeast@codeclub.org.uk