It’s the final day of #VolunteersWeek, and we’ve been profiling the fantastic contributions of the people who help run Code Clubs across the UK. We spoke to James, a first-year student at Ulster University studying Computing Science. As a part of his role as a STEM Ambassador, James has been volunteering to run a Code Club at his former primary school, St.Colmciles in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
With a previous connection to the school, it was very simple to get the club started. James visited there to make arrangements for how the club would be run. He says, “I had a meeting with the teacher involved, Mrs McAleer. We discussed suitable times and agreed to hold the club for one hour each Friday afternoon.” With the logistics planned, he was ready to get started!
“On the first day, 15 pupils attended and were very enthusiastic about the club. I started with a ten-minute presentation introducing coding to them. We encouraged the pupils to interact with each other and work in pairs, following a tutorial project devised by the school, as this was their first time using Scratch. When the pupils had finished the tutorial project and had a feel for how Scratch worked, they moved on to their first Code Club project.
“Over the following weeks, the pupils had a go at new projects from the Code Club website, which built up their coding skills, each project addressing a new concept per week. Throughout, I encouraged the pupils to seek help from myself and/or fellow pupils.”
James found that the club members all worked at different paces, but it was easy to adapt to the needs of the children. “Some pupils would spend more time on a particular project, and continued working on it the next week. I also encouraged them to ask their parents for permission to use Scratch online so that they could complete projects at home. If a pupil finished a project early, I asked them to try out the extra challenges, and to make their code more efficient, adding more functionality and/or more sprites with different features.”
Running the club has been really rewarding for James, and a great way to share his skills. “The children have each been rewarded for their hard work and creativity by receiving certificates, which I presented to them at the end of each set of projects. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of helping these pupils grow in confidence and knowledge whilst attending Code Club.”
Interested to share your skills with the next generation, and learn new skills whilst your at it? Head to our website for further details on volunteering as a student.