Code Club: Inspiring Future Techbots
Three years ago my daughter came home from school and I could tell something was wrong.
My daughter wanted to join the school’s coding club, but she was worried of being bullied by the kids running it and her girlfriends. The solution came to me instantly. I quickly got in touch with the teacher and offered to run the code club myself.
That’s how I came to be involved in Code Club! I’ve run it once a week at noon ever since, for kids ages 9 to 13.
My personal goals were as follows:
- Give the kids a taste of coding. It’s fun, and not that hard! With some kids, it’s about fueling their existing passion for coding and taking their skills to the next level.
- Teach the kids the basics of computer science, robotics, and programming languages such as Scratch, Python and HTML
- Get as many girls involved as possible. There’s a real shortage of women in IT.
Fast forward to 2018
I joined Timely and my aforementioned daughter just started college.
While job hunting a key requirement was the ability to continue my volunteer work; #timelylife enabled me to do this. I can easily pop out for an hour and catch up on work when it suits me.
I was invited to start a Code Club at Papakowhai School, which my youngest daughter attends. I’ve had the privilege of running the club with Andrew De Witt, a teacher who also runs many of the technology courses at Papakowhai School.
We have 20-30 kids attending every week. The kids bring along their Chromebooks and they implement the pre-prepared projects.
Examples projects include:
- Rock Band – learn how to code your own musical instruments.
- ChatBot – learn how to program your own talking robot.
- Paint Box – make your own paint program.
- Boat Race – make a game, in which you’ll navigate a boat to a desert island.
I’ve also created special projects for the advanced students. This term I’ve been working closely with one student to create a machine learning model to identify different coloured pencils. You can feed it a picture of a blue pencil, and it may say “I’m 84.5% certain it’s a blue pencil”. Once we finish work on this we plan on using it to identify other, more advanced objects.
No matter how tough my day has been, seeing a bunch of happy, enthusiastic kids working away on their projects always leaves me feeling great, especially when I get to sit with a child as they proudly show me their completed project.
On the last day of Code Club for term 2 I asked the kids to show me their projects. Here are some amazing examples!
Sadly, it was also Mr De Wit’s last day. Some of the kids coded a goodbye project for him.
As for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my work with Code Club and also hope to get my coworkers involved!