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.
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.
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!