Be inspired by Code Club Canada and their response to the pandemic

Head of Code Club UK and Ireland Lucia Manzitti has been finding out how Code Clubs around the world are keeping kids coding during the pandemic. Recently she spoke to Maddy Bazett, Program Owner of Code Club Canada.

Getting Code Club Canada online!

When schools and community spaces started to close across Canada, Maddy and the team knew they needed to rise to the challenge. They wanted to make sure that kids attending Code Clubs could keep coding from home, and that others new to coding had the opportunity to have a go!

The team’s quick reaction enabled them to set up free online Code Club sessions within the first week! At first, they were launched as a public drop-in model, but this was soon adapted to attendees having to preregister for a school term. Code Club Canada set up six coding sessions and a final sharing session both in English and in French, to offer support to learners speaking either language.

Lucia was interested to know how parents reacted to the change in sign-up, from public drop-in to preregistration, and the more structured content: 

“Parents appreciated the structure and what to expect from the next session. Knowing the details put parents’ minds at ease, they could now count on something consistent. As weeks went by we noticed that there were repeat children and parents attending the sessions.” 

An online session explained 

Every session is hosted on Whereby, and has a facilitator instructor and a moderator to monitor members’ questions and chat. This team comes from KCJ, a bilingual Canadian charity whose mission is to give every Canadian child access to digital skills education, and who support Code Club Canada with their mission. 

Lucia asked Maddy how they planned their sessions:

“We needed some structure, instructors needed to know what to prepare and it made sense for us to utilise the Code Club curriculum and the progression of a programming language through a module.” 

The young learners mainly work on Scratch and Python projects as the experience is entirely within the computer. Maddy shared that from the 17 March to 14 May, members have spent a total of 763 hours coding online with Code Club Canada! 

Members try out the Code Club Rockband project in Scratch!

How did learners adjust to an online experience? 

A live online Code Club provides a different learning environment for members compared to an in-person club. While before members were used to buddying up with a friend to work through projects, they now work online, independently, and sometimes with a parent. 

Facilitators shared how learners had become more dependent on the step-by-step instructions, and got used to working on a split screen and switching tabs. With time, they became more confident, interacting with the facilitator, sharing their screens, and using their mic to ask questions. 

An online Code Club still provided an opportunity for young coders to share their cool projects with their peers. But rather than their peers being from their school, they were often from a completely different part of the country.

“We have heard back that kids are very excited when a club member is from another part of Canada and are in awe and ask: ‘How are you here, from somewhere else?”

Even in these strange times, Code Club is still helping people to connect. 

A message from Maddy on setting up an online club 

“Definitely try it! Even if you start with one online club or post pre-recorded sessions for your community to use and engage with. I think people are very appreciative in this time of free, fun and accessible content that kids can spend time on, especially when it’s educational.

And potential future volunteers gain confidence in seeing how a session is run (and that it isn’t so hard!) before they commit to starting one themselves.”

If Code Club Canada has inspired you to set up an online club, we have lots of resources to support you. Take a look at our club guidance or listen back to the community call series. 

To keep up-to-date on Code Club Canada, you can and follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page. 

Five things to get excited about with Code Club in 2020

We asked Lucia Manzitti, Head of Code Club UK, to tell us five things that she is excited about Code Club in 2020! 

It’s a great mix of opportunities for young learners, skill development for volunteers and educators, and the new Code Club book of Scratch… yes, a new book! 

1. Coolest Projects is back! 

Coolest Projects, the world’s leading technology fair for young people is back for 2020! It is one of our favourite events to attend, we love meeting the Code Club community and marvelling at the amazing digital making skills on show! 

Coolest Projects recognises the effort and creativity of young digital makers who take an idea and make it a reality. Join us and share your Scratch animation, website, game, robot, or anything else you’ve built with technology.

Register your project or idea today! 

2. Send your code to space 

I’d love to be a child again so I could take part in the  European Astro Pi Challenge and have my code run on the International Space Station! 

The mission is open to young people aged 14 and under in Code Clubs in ESA Member States, and in Slovenia, Canada, and Malta.

To take part in Astro Pi: Mission Zero and have your code run on the International Space Station, members have to write a simple Python program; use a step-by-step project guide to take a measurement of the temperature and display a message to the astronauts aboard. 

You have until Friday 20 March to complete the challenge!

3. New year, new skills! 

I have set myself the New Year’s resolution to develop my computer science skills. I will be looking at the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s 25 FREE courses on FutureLearn to inspire my learning, from an introduction to Python, and how computers work, to share a few. 

Join me and find a course that suits you

Code Club meetup at the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge

4. The results are in… well nearly! 

At the end of 2019 we ran our global Code Club survey. Thank you to the 1423 Code Clubs from around the world who took part and shared their feedback. 

Over the coming months, I will be working with the team to review the feedback and look at how we can make Code Club even better for you! I look forward to sharing this with you. 

5. #MyCodeClub 

We love to hear about your Code Club projects and to celebrate your work, we’re introducing a new hashtag #MyCodeClub! We’d love to see you use this when you share anything about your club on social media. 

You can follow Code Club UK and Code Club International on Twitter — make sure you tag us in your posts! 

If we especially enjoy your post, we may even send you some swag!

Along with launching #MyCodeClub, we will be running more exciting global competitions, developing new resources to support your club, and launching the new Code Club book of Scratch later this year! 

If you’re in the UK, USA, or the Republic of Ireland, head to codeclub.org to find out how you get involved with Code Club in your community. If you’re based in the rest of the world, visit codeclubworld.org to learn more.

Code Clubs share their highlights from 2019!

With 2019 coming to a close, we asked Star Clubs in the UK and clubs around the world to share their highlights from the past year.

Young boy working at a computer with Zoe from Code Club smiling looking over his shoulder at the screen he is working on.
Zoe from Code Club visiting a club in London

From robots to outer space! 

From having code run in space with Astro Pi, to showcasing great ideas at Coolest Projects, to creating a robot named Meriden, 2019 has proved to be an awesome year! We asked Lucia Manzitti, the Head of Code Club UK and Ireland, to share her highlight of 2019: 

For me, it was visiting the fantastic Burnside Primary School in Cramlington, where Shona and Joanne have been running the Code Club for 2.5 years. It was wonderful to see the children’s eyes sparkle when they showed me their digital creations! 

As the year comes to an end, I would like to thank all of the educators and volunteers, who do an amazing job inspiring the next generation of coders and digital makers. 

To celebrate another fantastic year, we asked educators and volunteers to share a story from their Code Club. Read on to find out their highlights of 2019! 

Coding can take you anywhere (even space)!

“The enthusiasm of our young coders and energy from our growing volunteer team saw Longlevens Code Club shoot for the stars. Aisha (8) and Ruban (10) launched a joint entry into the Astro Pi: Mission Zero challenge and saw their code run in space! 

The local radio station thought it was mission impossible, but an interview with the young coders proved that coders can! It was great publicity for the club, and we saw our club numbers increase. Go Longlevens Code Club, we are so proud of you!” Longlevens Code Club, UK

Celebrating successes is important!

“A highlight would be the celebration event to mark our Code Club being awarded Star Club status.

It was an awesome way for our hard work to be recognised; it shows how well we have built a community through Code Club, not just with the kids who attend and create and have fun, but also with their parents and guardians. It’s great to see groups of adults and children working together to experiment and tinker, and they all have that sense of belonging. The celebration is probably my favourite moment of my Code Club volunteering experience so far.” Leeds Library Code Club, UK

Image of a screen with a HTML project called the website of Jimmy
The website of Jimmy! A great project from a club member at Leeds Library Code Club.

There are lots of people who love to code!

“We joined as a Growth Leader 12 months ago and have established more than 50 Code Clubs in public schools across Malaysia. 

In November, we ran a Coolest Projects event in Penang to give the children an opportunity to showcase their great ideas. Over 110 children from across Malaysia showcased 54 projects. They talked to the judges and the public about their work. One even borrowed a fridge from their hotel to complete their project after the airline didn’t let them fly with it!” Penang Science Cluster, Growth Leader for Malaysia

It’s fun learning new skills! 

“Our Code Club members have enjoyed being creative with the sound feature in Scratch. One member used the sounds section to copy and paste different sound clips together. She made a sound collage and then wanted to play it to the volunteers. We were so pleased, we gave her a certificate for creativity!” Jubilee Crescent Library Code Club, UK

“This term, we were determined to try robots using the skills we had learned from Code Club projects. We have started to create our own robot, ‘Meriden Robot’! The students have been learning to program with Python and micro:bit with support from volunteers Jon and John. So far, the children have been working on stop/start, speed variation, circling, forward, and reverse.” Meriden Code Club, UK

A photograph of the Meriden robot being held in a gentleman's hand
Meet Meriden the robot!

Creating inspiring learning environments! 

“From being involved in the community since we launched our Code Club, we have learned so much from the kids, and from being leaders. We want to continue learning, and to keep offering kids a free, fun learning environment where they can feel like they can become anything they want.” Coding Doctors Kids Club, Miami, Florida

Two female Code Club leaders smiling  in blue T-shirts.
Leaders from the Coding Doctors Kids Club

“Our Code Club has been running for three years. Children come with their own ideas, and sometimes, projects that they have already started! Our volunteers help and support them in taking those ideas further, showing them how to fix bugs, solve problems, or explore other opportunities.” Cullompton Library Code Club, UK

Hear from Code Club members! 

We asked the children at Woodland Grange Code Club, UK, what their highlights of this term have been. Some talked about enjoying the sessions:

“I like making the projects. They take a long time and are quite tricky, but in the end, you can play the games and see what you’ve achieved.”

“I have fun and have learnt a lot.”

Some talked about what they have learnt:

“I like creating variables, which I can use in my own projects.”

“Code Club has helped me to understand Scratch.” 

And some talked about projects that they have enjoyed:

“I like Rock band because it’s musical.”

A gif of the Rock band animation - featuring a female singer on a stage wearing a pink dress.
Has your club had fun with Rock band?

What has your Code Club’s highlight been this year? Share it with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and use the hashtag #MyCodeClub.