Our Code Club global tour — find out what we learned!

Over the last year, our global Code Club team has missed being able to make in-person club visits. Seeing our clubs’ creativity, enthusiasm, and love of coding first-hand is a massive inspiration to us.

This year, the team decided to take a tour of the world to visit clubs online, and in some countries in person, to see how everyone is getting on. Here are a few highlights!

First stop…the USA!

Kevin, our Club Program Coordinator for North America, joined educator David Slavin at his online club session at Pajaro Valley Virtual Academy, in California.  

The club members he met were enthusiastic, polite, and keen to share their ideas. They were also excited to learn more about how they could share their coding creations as part of Coolest Projects.

Kevin reflected on his visit:  

“I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for educators and learners to have had to transition to online learning so abruptly, but to see these students bursting with curiosity was inspiring!” 

Let’s head Down Under!

Nicola Curnow, Program Manager for Code Club Australia, has been able to resume in-person club visits and joined Ferntree Gully Club in Melbourne. This club thought about what they have learnt at Code Club and decided to build a school newsletter using their HTML knowledge! 

“When I visited they were working on formatting and editing the newsletter. The teachers and volunteers did an amazing job working together to build the newsletter for their community.”

Approximately 4800 miles away in India…

Vasu, our Club Programme Coordinator in India, had the exciting opportunity to go online to see a hybrid club at Core Programmers Academy in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. In the session, some children took part in the classroom, while others joined online from their homes.

Vasu enjoyed seeing the club in action and the leader had planned the session perfectly to help the young coders interact and learn alongside each other.

Vasu said:  

 “It’s great to see that the Code Club India community is working so hard to continuously stay updated with different models of learning in this ever-changing new world!” 

Vasu joining the Core Programmers Academy from her home

Meanwhile, in the UK

Zoe, Programme Coordinator for Code Club UK & Ireland, popped online to visit Rugby Library in Warwickshire, where their creative coders were enjoying launching into space with Astro Pi Mission Zero and racing to the finish line of Scratch module one with Boat race!

“It was wonderful to see the kids working independently through the projects and feeling confident to ask for help. I had so much fun and loved when Hazq showed me his super cool Boat race project!”  

The Scratch game Boat race

What we learned 

What shone brightly throughout these visits, is how well everyone has adapted during these challenging times. The resilience of the Code Club community has been nothing short of inspirational.

There may be less noise in an online session, but the fun learning environment where coders can continue to explore and be creative, is still very much alive! 

Visit my club

You can get in touch to invite us to visit your online club. We would love to see and celebrate your amazing achievements, so please share them with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World using the hashtag #MyCodeClub! 

Educator Sophie, shares her experience to help you get started with Code Club

In February 2021 Sophie Hudson, a teacher at Linton-on-Ouse Primary School and Nursery, took the leap and launched her first Code Club! 

Sophie shares what she has learnt from running online sessions and her advice on how you can get started with your Code Club. 

Female teacher Sophie Hudson stands in front of a wall mural
Sophie Hudson

Sophie’s helpful pointers

If you’re ready to set up a Code Club in 2021, Sophie has three helpful pointers that gave her the confidence to start a club. 

1. Head online

I completed the FREE online FutureLearn Prepare to Run a Code Club course. This really helped me to understand how to run a club and what I needed to do to get Code Club ready! 

Take part in the Code Club meetups! Joining the meetup showed me that there is a great community ready to answer my questions, if I need help.

2. Learn together

Admit when you are ‘learning together’. It’s been really good for the children to see me work things out and hear my thought processes. The Code Club projects are really useful and provide a clear pathway through Scratch and onwards! 

I was worried that I wouldn’t be knowledgeable enough to lead a Code Club effectively, but I couldn’t have been more wrong — learning together has proven to be a powerful tool!

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3. Don’t worry!

Don’t worry about new projects! I’m looking forward to getting into the Python/HTML projects with the more advanced club members. Now I’m accustomed to the projects, I feel confident I will be able to do this without getting into a pickle!

What were the highlights?

It’s been seeing the children’s progress! A few children started off needing me to talk through each step with them, but now they are often steps ahead of me! There are two girls who are quietly gaining confidence to stray from the projects and create something totally different. I’m pleased to see their confidence grow and the pride they have when sharing their projects.

What do young coders think of this new Code Club? 

“I like that we can do it together and also we can do it on our own. My favourite project so far is probably the ghost game because I used a bat and made it my own. It was a bit tricky online to start [with] but it got easier as I did more projects.”

Joe, Year 4 coder

Final words from Sophie

I was nervous to start my Code Club online, but in the end it was completely worth jumping in at the deep end! The children have really enjoyed it and now some of them can meet in the classroom, it is clear that they have been able to follow the projects themselves and learn so much from it.

Six primary school children sat at their desks with laptops.
Code Club members meeting in-person

Learn how you can go online with Code Club 

Take a look at our ways to run a Code Club page for everything you need to know about taking your Code Club online. 

Online tips to blast into orbit with Astro Pi Mission Zero!

Astro Pi Mission Zero gives young people the opportunity to blast their program into space and send a message to the astronauts on board the International Space Station. 

With many of you supporting young people to learn to code from home, Ruth from The Mount School Code Club in York shares some tried-and-tested tips for taking Astro Pi Mission Zero online. 

What is Astro Pi Mission Zero? 

Astro Pi Mission Zero is an engaging challenge to write a simple Python program that will run on the International Space Station. The code will run for up to 30 seconds on one of the two Astro Pi computers that are on the space station. 

Step-by-step instructions are available to help young people take part in this year’s challenge, which involves measuring the humidity in the Columbus module and displaying a colourful message on the Astro Pi’s LED matrix for the astronauts to read!

It can be completed in person or as part of an online session. Entries can be submitted either individually, or as part of a team of 2–4 young people. 

The closing date for entries is Friday 18 March and Astro Pi is open to ESA Member States, as well as Slovenia, Canada, Latvia, and Malta.

Two young girls with long brown hair sat facing a laptop at a table. In the corner of the image an animation of of a astronaut is giving a double thumbs up.

Ruth’s top tips on delivering Astro Pi Mission Zero online 

Code Club educator Ruth has helped her club go into orbit with Mission Zero. Read her four top tips to make sure you have a smooth mission from online classroom to space! 

1. Show them where their code is going to run 

Engage the kids in the project before they start writing any code. I showed them a Raspberry Pi with a Sense HAT and we watched the video at the start of the project so they could see the Astro Pi computers onboard the space station. Take a look at Google Street View of the ISS, and see if you can find them on board! 

It helped them realise that the code they were about to write was actually going to be run in space!

2. Teach them the underscore (_) key! 

Kids are now used to typing on a computer, however, there are some keys that we use in code that they may not be so used to. For example in the Astro Pi project, the underscore key (_) is used often.

An astronaut in onboard the International Space Station and is pointing towards the Astro Pi's.
The Astro Pi onboard the International Space Station (Image credit ESA)

3. Fixing bugs together 

To help fix a bug, I’ll ask them to share their screen and make their code font larger on Trinket. Everyone benefits from this, as all the kids can see the problem and learn from it. Coders often help each other rather than me helping them, which is great and I always encourage this.

4. Take your time 

Astro Pi Mission Zero can be completed in one session, but we took our time and completed the project in three sessions. We used the first session for setting up, explaining the project and working on the scrolling message to appear. The second session was about investigating how to get the picture to appear, and the third session was using the sensor to read the value and to respond differently depending on the value it’s received.

Ruth’s last piece of advice:

“[At] each small step in this project I’ve seen the kids’ faces light up when they see their code working how they wanted it to and now that they know their code is actually going to be used somewhere it makes them feel even prouder. I’ve had comments from parents saying it’s the most engaged they’ve seen their child in a long time.”

My Code Club is paused

If your club is paused, we have a step-by-step video to guide coders through Mission Zero. You can share the video link and they can blast their code into orbit from the comfort of their own home! 

Connect with the Code Club team on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and let us know how your coders get on with Astro Pi Mission Zero!