Using code to raise awareness of fire safety!

During National Fire Safety Week (4–11 October 2021) in Ireland, Dublin Fire Brigade, Code Club, and our sister network CoderDojo joined together to launch the #Code4FireSafety Coding Challenge across the whole island of Ireland.

Young people were invited to take part to raise awareness of how we can protect ourselves and our homes from fire, by creating educational Scratch projects.

Headquarters of Dublin Fire Brigade

When Dublin Fire Brigade approached Darren Bayliss, Programme Coordinator for Code Club and CoderDojo Ireland, about running a #Code4FireSafety Coding Challenge across the whole island to highlight the importance of fire safety with our network of clubs, we were excited to collaborate on this important issue!

“Young people never fail to impress us here at Dublin Fire Station with their enthusiasm and ingenuity with any task in front of them. Fire safety and firefighting is what we do here in the Fire Brigade. But fire safety begins at home, through education and prevention, and that’s why we asked young people to take part in this challenge and help us with our fight against fire.” 

– Dennis Keeley, Chief Fire Officer, Dublin Fire Brigade

Challenge launch 

The #Code4FireSafety Coding Challenge was launched at the headquarters of Dublin Fire Brigade on 8 October and ran for six weeks. It was open to all Code Clubs and CoderDojos across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Young people were invited to create a Scratch project related to fire safety. We asked them to include themes such as smoke detectors, electronics safety (e.g. charger safety), candle safety, closing doors at night, having an escape plan, and the number to call in an emergency. Coders worked on their projects individually, and entries were judged in two age categories, ages 8–11 and 12–17.

“At a time when many of our clubs are still paused and teachers are under a great deal of pressure, this Scratch-based #Code4FireSafety Coding Challenge was a great way for those who would normally attend clubs to still feel connected whilst expressing their amazing creativity through code.” 

– Darren Bayliss, Programme Coordinator, Code Club and CoderDojo Ireland

Amazing projects

We saw 51 project entries fly in from Code Clubs and CoderDojos across Ireland. 

“With the ongoing coronavirus-related restrictions in place across Ireland, causing many clubs to still be paused, I was delighted to see that this didn’t stop young people from accepting the challenge, getting creative with code to explore the important topic of fire safety.”

– Tamasin Greenough Graham, Head of Code Club

Before we announce the winners of the #Code4FireSafety Coding Challenge, here are two projects that the team enjoyed! 

Stop, drop and roll

This one made me smile. I love the idea of fire safety from the perspective of the fire!”

– Kat Leadbetter, Community Manager, Code Club
Fire safety – help keep Fearg the Fire away!

The voice-over in this Scratch project shares some excellent fire safety advice in a very clear way. Well done!”

– Zoe Davidson, Programme Coordinator, Code Club

The winners

With 51 fantastic project entries received, a panel of judges from Code Club, CoderDojo, and Dublin Fire Brigade had the tough task of choosing six winners!  

The winners all showed great coding skills and creativity around raising awareness and exploring the topic of fire safety.

Dublin Fire Brigade generously provided the amazing prizes of Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kits for the young people who had created the winning projects within each age category.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Age category: ages 12–17

1st: Maryem – Playing With Fire – CoderDojo Midlands 

2nd: Sean – Fire Duck – Coláiste Chiaráin 

3rd: Keisha – Fire Safety – Marymount National School, Ballsgrove

Age category: ages 8–11

1st: Andrei – ‘Fire’ – North Offaly CoderDojo

2nd: Oisin – Fire 6 – Rathineska NS

3rd: Matey – Fire Safety – CoderDojo Midlands

Take a look at all of the participants’ amazing Scratch projects in our ‘Fire Safety Week Coding Challenge’ Scratch studio. We’re already planning our coding challenge with Dublin Fire Brigade for 2023, so watch this space! 

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.

Code Club Iraq is helping learners dream big with code!

Dr Nadia Al-Aboody is the driving force behind Code Club Iraq, she’s been empowering Code Club children and educators since 2016. 

Educator Zahraa and young coders Alaa, Haneen, and Yusuf tell us about the positive impact that Nadia and Code Club has had on their lives.

Dr Nadia Al-Aboody

Dr Nadia Al-Aboody is a lecturer of computer science in Maysan, Iraq, a dedicated Code Club leader, a Raspberry Pi National Partner for Iraq, and an advocate for women and girls in STEM. She tells us:

“When I was a little girl I didn’t find a mentor to help me with electronics, I only heard voices saying I won’t make it. This is why I now mentor girls and female trainers in our Code Club. I want to give them a chance to grow.”

Nadia has been involved with Code Club for five years and is a real role model for many girls and women in Iraq. 

Alaa is dreaming big through code! 

Meet Alaa, aged 10! Alaa joined Nadia’s Code Club in 2020 when she started to dream big with code!

“I want to be famous when I grow up, the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from being a Code Club member will help me achieve my dreams!” 

Code Club is a great space to spark the imagination of young people, to encourage them to explore ideas that interest them, whilst developing their skills. This was one reason why Alaa wanted to join Code Club: 

“At the end of the project, I will see something I have made and it will help me make other projects with new ideas!”

If Alaa was to offer any advice to new club members, she says that you should give it a go as you are guaranteed to have a “really fun time there” — thank you, Alaa! 

Alaa at Code Club

Developing transferable skills 

Zahraa is an electrical engineer and is currently studying for a Master’s in computer engineering; she is affectionately called Nadia’s ‘right-hand woman’! She has been a Code Club volunteer for two years. Zahraa tells us: 

“What attracted me to Code Club is that the team supports children of different ages, and teaches them how to rely on themselves, as well as the basics for programming and logical thinking. 

The training from Nadia has helped me a lot, even outside of club-based activities, and I have been able to use the skills I developed from volunteering at Code Club in other areas of my life too, like public speaking, delivering training, communications and public relations, logical thinking, and of course, coding! 

I would really advise anyone who is thinking about getting involved with us at Code Club to absolutely do it. It’s one of the most rewarding things I have done.” 

Code Club educator, Zahraa

Code Club is supporting future career paths 

Nadia and the team have created safe spaces where children are able to explore coding and discuss future career paths. 

Haneen (14) and Yusuf (10) are siblings who attend Code Club. Haneen has always been excited by programming, but since coming to Code Club, she is now thinking about choosing it as her field of study at university. 

Yusuf wasn’t sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but his Code Club experience has made him sure that he wants to become a games programmer. 

Haneen shares her coding skills in this Code Club Scratch project; have a go and see how you get on! 

Code Club Iraq

To find out how to start your own Code Club, head to www.codeclub.org if you are based in the UK, India or the USA or to www.international.codeclub.org if you are based outside the UK.