Code Club in 2018

Happy new year! As we kick off the new year full of energy and ideas, Maria Quevedo, Director of Code Club, tells us what the Code Club team has planned for the year ahead.

2017 was a great year for Code Club

We welcomed almost 2000 new clubs to our community. A massive thank you to all of you who made this possible — there would be no Code Clubs without our dedicated community that shares our mission to inspire the next generation to get excited about computing and digital making.

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We also expanded our programme to include 12- and 13-year-olds, with 350 secondary schools coming on board as a result. As part of the expansion, we added six new advanced Scratch projects to our range of resources.

We also launched our free online training course about how to run a Code Club on the FutureLearn platform.

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We had an amazing 2611 people from all across the world sign up for the first course run — from the UK to Mexico, and from the USA to Mongolia!

Our ambitions for 2018

We will continue to increase our visibility in the secondary school sector to make even more schools aware that we now have projects aimed at older coders in Key Stage 3 and S1.

Our Regional Coordinators will continue to be at hand to support our community and run meetups and training sessions. We will expand this support into the Republic of Ireland, and will be recruiting a new Regional Coordinator to grow the Code Club community there.

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We’re going to improve our website so that it’s much simpler for potential venue hosts and volunteers to get involved and to tell us about their availability. Knowing what’s happening in your club and what your plans are helps us enormously to provide better support for you, so we will be looking at ways to make it easier for you to talk to us.

Finally, we will be running more competitions and giveaways exclusively for active clubs, so make sure your club is set to active on your profile, and check your inbox regularly for announcements.

I very much enjoyed looking at the amazing projects you sent us for the festive competition — personally, I can’t wait to see more work by our talented club members!

Here’s to another awesome year of code!

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T.E.D., the Talk Enabled Development project

At Code Club, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn to code. So when we heard about a club that had found a new and unique way to support a blind child’s coding, Katharine Childs, Regional Coordinator for the East Midlands, went along to find out more.

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Introducing Ted

I was welcomed to Farnsfield St Michael’s C of E Primary VA School in Nottinghamshire by teacher Rob Fry and volunteer Steve Barton. Steve is a software developer, and he set up the club earlier this year to run once a week for a group of around 30 Year 3 and 4 students. One of these children is eight-year-old Ted, who is visually impaired. Initially, Rob used a BigTrak to do physical programming with Ted, but Rob and Steve wanted to find a way to help Ted to use Scratch, the programming environment used in many Code Club projects. Steve said:

I was keen to get Ted sat in front of a computer creating his own imaginative projects that he could share with the club, just as the other kids were doing.

Steve started by researching other coding tools for children with visual impairments, but he couldn’t quite find what he was looking for. Undaunted, he decided to write his own system.

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Steve and Ted

Introducing T.E.D.

Steve explained:

I started tinkering with Scratch to see if I could leverage its excellent sound library along with some of the key code categories to give Ted that real coding experience. [The tool] had to use the keyboard as little as possible — just the arrow keys to navigate and the space bar to select an option. And of course, it had to have audible prompts, so I set to recording my own voice for that. Ted likes Star Wars and Thunderbirds, so I downloaded some sound bites for him to use in his projects.

The result is T.E.D., the Talk Enabled Development project, which I saw in action during my visit. Ted told me that he really likes coding and would miss being able to take part in Code Club with the other children if he didn’t have T.E.D. to use.

You can try the Scratch project for yourself here. To Steve, T.E.D. is very much a work in progress, and he listens carefully to Ted’s feedback about bugs and features. Next on Steve’s list is to improve the way that projects are saved.

Steve and Rob do everything they can to ensure that Ted is included in every aspect of the club. At the end of last term, every child was presented with a Code Club certificate, and Steve got Ted’s translated into Braille.

The Code Club community

We’d like to congratulate Steve on being an outstanding volunteer who has demonstrated a fantastic commitment to the ethos of Code Club being open to everyone. We welcome everyone to share their own stories with us via our social media channels and with their Regional Coordinators.

If you’d like to start a Code Club in your local community, host a club at your premises or school, or volunteer at an existing club, you can find information on this on the Code Club website. Prospective volunteers, interested parents, and educators are welcome to join us at our free regional meetups — find an event near you here. You can also enrol in our free online training course Prepare to run a Code Club, which will help you build your skills and gain the confidence to start your own club.

Code Club festive competition: we have a winner!

In October, we launched our first-ever competition exclusively for active Code Clubs. In keeping with the season, the challenge was to code a festive message using one of two Code Club projects as a starting point.

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Incredible entries

We were super excited when the submissions started rolling in, and all in all we received more than 500 from clubs all across the UK.

After the competition closed, the Code Club judges had a wonderful time looking at all your entries, which were creative, funny, and well thought-out.

The winners

It was tough choosing a winner from among all the fantastic festive messages we received, but after much deliberation, we are pleased to announce that the winner is Jake, aged 9, from Henry Cavendish Primary School!

Congratulations to Jake and the whole Henry Cavendish Primary School Code Club! The judges loved the use of sprites, animation, and colour in Jake’s entry. Jake says:

I’m very happy to have won — Code Club is my favourite part of the week.

Club leader Phil Brayshaw adds:

We’d like to say how proud we are of how far Jake and the other kids have progressed in just a few months. They’re so creative and resourceful, and always helpful to each other.

The whole club will receive prizes, and we will send out the winning entry as the official Code Club end-of-year festive message.

Highly Commended

It really was too hard to choose just one entry, so we’d like to recognise three other entries with a mention in the Highly Commended category:

 

 

  • Charlotte, aged 8, from Weetwood Primary School Code Club, whose piano-playing penguin got us in a festive mood

 

Coming soon

If your club members weren’t able to take part this time, don’t worry: we’ll have more competitions, available exclusively for active clubs, coming up soon! If you need help with getting your club activated so you can take part next time, drop us a line at support@codeclub.org.uk.