So I do! The first time I have heard about Code Club was about 2 months ago at PHP UK Conference in London. Aral Balkan has mentioned it in his talk and immediately got my attention. We’d had a lengthy discussion about it as I thought it’s a brilliant idea, and decided that I want to get involved and support it.
In short, Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. It is an amazing project co-founded by Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik in April 2012. I believe it is a brilliant idea and a perfect way to promote programming and software engineering amongst young people. Otherwise how are we going to get more people involved into development?! You can read a bit more what the Code Club is all about at their website – http://www.codeclub.org.uk/about. We are using Scratch – a programming language that makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art.
As I have my 2 kids at a local primary school – Malin Bridge Primary School in Sheffield, what would we be a better place then to start there. So I got in touch with the Head Teacher – Stephen Betts, during a PTA meeting, explained what a Code Club is and that I wanted to start one. He loved the idea and with a lot of help from Steve Green, a school teacher and extended earning coordinator, we have set up the first Code Club session to happen on Wed, 17th April – which is today!
Despite the fact that I already have a bit of experience in public speaking, I was quite nervous and stressed. Wasn’t quite sure how I am gonna handle a group of children in front of computer screens and make them listen to me and follow the instructions. But I got a lovely group of 11 students from year 5 and 6, who I believe have had a lot of fun and were very excited about the prospect of being able to create a computer game. I must admit, this first session, got a little bit out of hand, as everybody was trying to make their work unique and therefor the kids needed a lot of my attention when something was going the wrong way, but the end result is astonishing. You can see what the kids have created so far at the Scratch website – I was amazed with the amount of imagination that went into that work, and to be honest I am really curious how the game is going to look like at the very end.
So, please, if you are a developer, why don’t you start a Code Club at your local school? It’s very easy – all you have to do is:
- find a school and talk to a head teacher
- register at Code Club website
- obtain a CRB check
Code Club provides all the materials that you will need to run the Club – you will get access to them once you register your club. You don’t need a lot of time to do that – a few hours initially to go through the process of setting it up, and after that, an hour a week to lead the club and probably about an hour just to prepare to your next session. Well… there is one thing they don’t tell you. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you. Today, I could hardly speak after the session
Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to my employer – EMIS. I can work in such hours, that I can easily come to school and lead the after school club. I wouldn’t be able to do that without their support.