Bring out the spirit of collaboration in your club with Delmar Code Club!

We took a virtual trip to Delaware, USA to catch up with Delmar Code Club and learn about their experience so far as a new club!

For Delmar Code Club’s co-leader, Daniel Rice, the impetus to start this club was his science education fellowship and a nudge from his professor to “do something”.

Mr. Rice’s answer to that “something” was to start a Code Club in October of last year. He partnered with co-leader Peter Burnham, the engineering teacher at their school, and together they envisioned what is now Delmar Code Club. 

Photo credit: Mr. Mark Connelly

Mr. Burnham firmly believes that “coding is the future” and even though he came to the club with very little coding experience, he felt that their club had “the right mix of people to get everything together”. 

That mix of people consists of seven students, all bringing their own unique skills to the club. Their names are Sam, Logan, Christine, Ben, Eagan, Julianna, and Jackson. We were very lucky to get the chance to hear from both Julianna and Jackson about their experiences alongside their club leaders. 

Julianna has been coding on her own since the 5th grade and shared that she had been looking for coding opportunities in school for a long time when she was encouraged to join Delmar Code Club.

Jackson, on the other hand, has been interested in engineering since the 6th grade. “In our high school, there was never really any kind of class geared towards engineering aside from Mr. Burnham’s class,” he said. “I was excited to hear that there was a Code Club coming up and wanted to try it out.” 

Kicking off the code with Python

To start, the Delmar Code Club met virtually and began working with programming languages like Python and the Turtle drawing library, which resulted in a snowflake designing contest where the students tried to beat Mr. Burnham.

“We had the community vote on which one they liked the most,” said Mr. Rice about the outcome of the contest. “All the kids actually beat Mr. Burnham.”

The club continued exploring other projects under the instruction of Mr. Rice and Mr. Burnham until one particular project prompted Jackson to ask his club leaders if they could take it to the next level. What started as them programming a game using Python’s Turtle library ended up becoming a fully functional arcade cabinet run by a Raspberry Pi computer that can play just about anything they wanted.

Collaboration at its finest!

This is where the true collaborative spirit of Delmar Code Club began to blossom. Some students, like Jackson, took to designing the build of the cabinet itself while others, like Julianna, focused on the code. Everyone had a skill to offer and was also willing to learn something new in order to complete this project. 

Photo credit: Mr. Mark Connelly

When he initially heard about Jackson’s plans, Mr. Burnham said, “I definitely thought it would’ve been too hard, but it really didn’t turn out to be as bad as I would have figured.” Mr. Rice agreed, and said that he was determined to keep an open mind and to never tell his students “no” when they brought their ideas to club sessions. 

“I was a little bit scared when Jackson said we could build this,” Mr. Rice said. “But with Mr. Burnham being a great builder and Julianna being a great coder and Jackson taking the reins, we got it done and I think we have a fantastic piece.” 

To celebrate the club’s achievement, they held a go-kart racing game competition that was open to the entire school, which was a huge hit.

Looking ahead with Delmar Code Club

The future of their club holds many exciting things: 3D printing, a robot derby, and even more game design. For a club that’s only in their first year, Delmar Code Club has accomplished so much, all while navigating the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic.

With such a small group being able to complete so much, it goes to show that anything is possible so long as you have what Mr. Burhham would describe as “kids who want to do the work”. 

If you’re thinking about starting a Code Club or even relaunching a paused club, know that even with the limits we’re all facing, you still can accomplish many exciting things. Mr. Rice’s advice? “Just keep going as far as you can!”

Visit our website today for more information on how you can get a Code Club started near you! 

Ms Usha’s reflections on her journey as a Code Club India educator

Ms Usha, an IT professional and now Code Club educator shares what inspired her to set up a Code Club, how it is helping learners to gain new skills, and why it is important to empower girls to explore digital making!

Ms Usha

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work and live in Dubai as an IT professional, but grew up in Andhra Pradesh, a southern state in India. I am a tech enthusiast and believe that it can change people’s lives.

The opportunity was given to me to leave Andhra Pradesh and explore my career options. I wanted to give that chance — that opportunity — to those children in my old village, which was my motivator to go back and set up a Code Club.

 I wanted a chance to learn something new and expand my own skills.

Each week, I run my club online from Dubai and have sixty plus club members attending via the local school in Andhra Pradesh.

What inspired you to volunteer for Code Club?

I learned about Scratch when volunteering with the Ministry of Education AI series, in the UAE [in] 2019. The projects created by the students impressed me and encouraged me to learn to code.

I had the assumption that coding wasn’t meant for children and that they wouldn’t understand complicated concepts. After looking at Scratch and the Code Club projects and resources — I thought to myself “Why can’t they?”, rather “Why can’t I?”.

Learning never ends, one should be a student for life!

I decided to start a club in Andhra Pradesh, as I wanted to develop the skills and bring out the hidden talents of the children within that community.

What skills can children gain with Code Club?

With technology comes freedom of expression and the chance for children to set out and achieve something on their own.

In doing so, they face challenges that they must work through to reach their goals. Coding helps them to establish a strong sense of perseverance and encourages learners to come up with their own solutions.

They can use these skills in computing, or outside of it — in the form of homework issues, disagreements with friends, or other personal hardship they may face.

Why is it important to empower girls to explore digital making?

Girls still face many barriers when exploring computing and digital making opportunities. From gender discrimination [and] language difficulties to low literacy and lack of funding.

There are many hidden skills gained through computing, including problem-solving, teamwork, and self-motivation which will support girls with their future education.

Programmes like Code Club also help to improve literacy and education and is another way to help girls reach their potential.

Can you share what you enjoy most about running a Code Club?

Learners at Code Club have a positive attitude about learning new things. I enjoy seeing their creativity and imagination come to life through code, they support each other even if it’s online. Sometimes, I can struggle with the local language, but students jump in and help me out, whilst supporting each other.

Has Ms Usha inspired you to set up a Code Club? Take a look at our website or contact the Code Club India team at india@raspberrypi.org.

3…2…1… Blast off with Code Club for World Space Week!

Fuel your coders’ imagination and take part in World Space Week (4–10 October) — the largest annual space event in the world! 

Explore our space-themed projects, celebrate the women who have paved the way for space exploration, and learn how your club can send a message into space with the European Astro Pi Challenge Mission Zero.

Women in space 

From Margaret Hamilton’s code for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969, to Wally Funk joining Blue Origin Crew on board the New Shepard rocket in July, women have been an integral part of space exploration for centuries. 

Here are three real roles models you can talk about in your classroom who have made an impact on space exploration: 

  1. Katherine Johnson, born in 1918, developed calculations that synched Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon orbiting Command and Service Module.
  2. Mary Jackson, born in 1921, was the first black female engineer for NASA. She worked to impact the hiring of the next generation of women at NASA. 
  3. Jessica Ulrika Meir, born in 1977, joined Christina Koch on 18 October 2019 for the first all-female spacewalk!

Let the exploration begin 

Our space-themed project collection includes eight projects to appeal to the space-loving coders in your club.

The collection features a brand-new beginner’s Scratch project called ‘Space talk’, where children learn how to add sprites and backdrops and are introduced to ‘look’ and ‘sound’ code blocks to make their sprite emote! 

Space talk

For your more confident coders, explore our Python project called ‘Where is the Space Station?‘. Learners use a web service to find out the current location of the International Space Station (ISS) and plot its location on a map.

If you’re based in the UK, the USA, India, or Ireland, head to your dashboard, ‘Resources’ and scroll down to the ‘Learning resources’ section to download your copy of our space-themed collection. 

If you’re based outside of the UK, the USA, India, or Ireland, head to our Code Club international website.

Space-themed project collection

Send a message to the International Space Station

Bring space exploration to your classroom by taking part in the European Astro Pi Challenge Mission Zero, an ESA Education project run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. To enter, young people just need to write a simple Python program that will display a message on the International Space Station (ISS)! 

There’s something extra special about this year’s challenge! All Mission Zero participants will have the opportunity to vote for the names of the two new Astro Pi computers that are being sent to the International Space Station in December — how cool is that?

Find out if your club is eligible to take part in Mission Zero and how you can include a name choice in your submission with this handy project guide.

Our new project paths and European Astro Pi Challenge Mission Zero have easy to follow step-by-step instructions, allowing both young coders and educators to reach for the stars, learn together, and succeed!

Share your successes with us on Twitter using the hashtag #MyCodeClub