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

Finding hardware for your Code Club

Clubs often ask us about how to find low-cost or recycled equipment for their sessions. In this post, three members of the Code Club community tell us how they have secured extra equipment for their club.

You don’t need a lot of equipment to run a Code Club

The only essential equipment you need at your Code Club is a number of laptops or PCs, and you don’t need one computer per child — letting young people program together works very well. You don’t even need internet access: if there is no connectivity at your venue, you can download and install offline versions of Scratch and other programming environments.

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The Raspberry Pi setup at Darren’s Code Club

There are many ways of finding hardware

At some point you might like to introduce additional equipment such as micro:bits or Makey Makeys into your sessions, or let your learners program on Raspberry Pis and create physical computing projects with them. Here are examples of how some of our volunteers have sourced extra hardware for their Code Clubs:

Reach out locally

Darren Townsend was able to equip his Code Club with six Raspberry Pis thanks to a small grant from his employer Warburton’s. For the monitors, keyboards, and mice to accompany the Pis, he enquired at a local company that he knew was changing its IT setup — they were happy to donate their used hardware free of charge.

“I reached out in my local area. Large companies update their IT equipment regularly. They don’t have to be tech companies — the best ones are places like customer service centres. And don’t forget the power of Facebook: you will be amazed what you can get just by asking on your local Facebook groups.” – Darren Townsend

When volunteer Paul Fretwell wanted to introduce physical computing with the Raspberry Pi to his Code Club, he also contacted his employer. He tells us: “When the managing director of our Northern Europe region came to give a presentation in my local office, I thought he would know who the right person would be for me to put my proposal to. So I grabbed the chance to pitch the idea to him. He was very enthusiastic about my ideas for my Code Club and told me he would authorise up to £1000. It was that easy!” Like Darren, Paul was also able to grab some monitors that were going to be recycled.

“I reached out in my local area. Large companies update their IT equipment regularly. They don’t have to be tech companies — the best ones are places like customer service centres. And don’t forget the power of Facebook: you will be amazed what you can get just by asking on your local Facebook groups.” – Darren Townsend

The power of the PTA

When Darren decided to upgrade his Pi setup, he was lucky enough to get some help from the school’s PTA, who donated the money for six new Pis, cases, and power supplies.

“It’s worth a shout out to the families of the young people [in your Code Club] to see if they have any unused kit gathering dust somewhere,” says Darren. “I’m willing to bet that there are plenty sat in garages or lofts, or even heading for the skip.”

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The PTA at Oakham CofE primary successfully crowdfunded for Makey Makeys


The PTA at Oakham CofE primary school decided to try crowdfunding when the school’s technology needed an upgrade. They raised £1254 on the crowdfunding platform Rocketfund, which is designed to help schools purchase new technology.

The PTA members spread the word using the school’s social media accounts, and sent out letters to local businesses to ask for their support. To encourage donations, they even live-streamed a teacher having his beard shaved off!

The money allowed them to purchase a set of Makey Makeys, which are now used regularly in the school’s Code Club. PTA chair Suzanne Armer says:
“We have just finished our first term since receiving our new equipment, and both the children and adults have had lots of fun. We have managed to encourage much excitement outside the classroom, there have been lots of demonstrations, and we are taking the equipment to a county show to show off some of the children’s projects.”

Get started with Code Club today

If you want to help run a Code Club, you can get started right now at, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or via if you have any questions.