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. 

Code Club celebrates International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to introduce you to some of the amazing women who work for Code Club across the world. 

They told us about the women who have inspired them, from grandmothers, to teachers, to scientists, and it’s been amazing to hear the impact that these #RealRoleModels have had on our colleagues’ lives. 

She wanted her school to be the best school for girls 

Lucia Manzitti, Head of Code Club UK and Ireland 

“My grandmother has been a huge inspiration to me. She founded a school for girls in Argentina, where we were taught to be independent, smart, and brave — all qualities she had. She was a great leader, she wanted her school to be the best school for girls in Argentina, and she was always innovating and taking inspiration from other schools around the world.

She introduced the International Baccalaureate (IB) to Argentina, and her school was the first to pilot the IB Diploma in 1976. She made sure her students were able to sit their Cambridge exams during the Falklands War; she hid their completed exam papers in the back of a car, drove to Uruguay, and sent them to the UK to be marked. She was awarded an MBE for this. She had a very clear vision, tremendous vigour, and was never silenced. She knew what she wanted and she did what she had to. I miss her every day.”

Jumped in and had a go! 

Nicola Curnow, Code Club Australia Program Manager

“I’m inspired daily by other women in tech, especially the teachers and volunteers who didn’t think they could code and jumped in and had a go, women of the past like Ada Lovelace, and women I work with every day who are in the minority in so many rooms but still outshine everyone!”

Learning fab new skills

Liz Smart, Programme Coordinator, Regional Engagement 

“Lisa Brown runs both Manchester CoderDojo and Cheadle CoderDojo and inspired me to start my own. She fills her time volunteering and learning fab new skills — she even made me some awesome hand warmers in my team’s colours to keep me cosy at the football.” 

The only female school leader

Vasu Srivastava, Club Programme Coordinator, India

“I met Ms Divya Lokesh in 2016, and she was the only female school leader in the entire cohort of more than 30 leaders in Bangalore, India. She not only inspired me, but thousands of children who come to her school every day. 

She encouraged a lot of co-curricular activities in her school, despite it being the less popular choice amongst parents and management. She started Classical & Western Dance classes for the children in middle school, and hired a self-defence expert to teach the adolescent girls in her school. 

She is a pioneer in her field and is also a proud mother of two children; she manages a household and a school with more than 1700 children; she truly is inspiring!” 

Always DANCE! 

Christina Foust, Club Programs Manager, USA 

“I’m inspired daily by my mother, Emerita. She taught me that life is short, so do what makes you happy. Spend time with loved ones! Travel! Be kind! And always, DANCE!”

Totally awestruck

Kat Leadbetter, Programme Coordinator, Global Engagement

“I studied Astronomy at university and always felt hugely inspired by Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a physicist who helped discover the first pulsar. As she was a postgrad student when the discovery was made, Bell Burnell was never properly credited and therefore missed out on the Nobel Prize awarded to other scientists she had worked with. Regardless, she dealt with this gracefully and had a successful career in what is still a very male-dominated field. When she was the speaker at my graduation ceremony, I was totally awestruck!”

Share with us

Which women have inspired you in your life? Share with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and use the hashtag #RealRoleModels.

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.