Code Club in France: bonjour le monde!

Last month Kat Leadbetter, our International Programme Coordinator, travelled to France to visit a Code Club in Romilly-sur-Seine.

J’arrive en France

It was a beautiful, sunny day when I stepped off the train in Romilly-sur-Seine, a small town about an hour outside Paris. Waiting for me was Fabien Schuft, our Code Club local partner for France.

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Kat and Fabien found time for a quick selfie!

Over the past years, Fabien has been busy growing the number of Code Clubs in France and supporting the French community of teachers and volunteers. At the end of 2016, there were 26 French Code Clubs; now, there are 150 from the north to the south, reaching about 2250 children a week! Plus, right now we offer 43 translated Code Club projects for kids to use in their clubs.

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Poster for a Code Club in France

Our destination for the day was the Code Club at Collège Paul Langevin, one of the first clubs to start in France, more than 3 years ago! Running in the newly renovated school building over lunchtime, the club hosts a mix of children aged 11 to 13 — some coding veterans and others very recent beginners.

Keeping things flexible

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Coding in progress

Club leader Isabelle told me that she believes it is very important to differentiate club time from the normal school day: “Kids are here for fun,” she told me. “We’re in school, but it’s not a lesson; we practise individual pedagogy, and the children can follow their own paths. It’s very flexible!”

In the session, this approach showed itself in how club members practised coding: one pupil was putting a Space Invaders twist on his Clone wars project, while another was creating a game featuring a hilariously abstract puppy-monster; some children chose to work in pairs on their projects, and others chose to code alone.

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Clone Wars with a Space Invaders twist

Walking around the room, what struck me the most was the number of children who said what they loved most about their Code Club was ‘créer’ — to create. They really valued being allowed the flexibility to make both the club and the projects their own, and having a space to use their creativity to make something completely new.

Don’t be afraid!

Isabelle believes that fear of computers should not stop from you getting involved with Code Club: “People who are leading clubs don’t have to be computer scientists, or coders, or experts. They should keep trying things: never stop learning by doing!” Very wise words.

Get involved

You can find out more about Code Club in France at www.codeclub.fr, and if you can help us translate more projects into French, find out about volunteering as a translator for us at www.raspberrypi.org/translate.

Code Club in the USA: 800 clubs and growing!

Since joining the Code Club team in February 2018, US Club Manager Christina has worked to support the growing community of clubs across the United States. Here she shares an exciting update to Code Club USA, and news of what’s to come!

800 clubs and growing!

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Spreading the word about Code Club.

From Honolulu to Houston and Anchorage to Atlanta, there are now 800 Code Clubs across the United States. And we’re continuing to grow: each day, educators across the country are starting new clubs in their communities, creating fun and inclusive spaces for kids to explore programming. This is amazing, and as the US Club Manager, I love every minute of getting to meet our existing clubs and their volunteers, and helping new clubs get started.

When visiting clubs, I always find it interesting to see the differences that make each club unique. In one club, kids will use Chromebooks to code animations in Scratch; in another, children use Raspberry Pis connected to projectors and work on designing web pages with HTML. Some clubs meet during lunchtime, while others meet after school, or in their local library — each club has its own individual flavour!

And despite these differences, all clubs have the same purpose: they are a space for kids to try coding. Clubs are all about the kids, and great Code Club leaders find what works best for their group of children.

Spreading the word across the USA

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Running training at the YMCA.

One of my favourite parts of my job is travelling across the country to spread the word about why people should get involved with Code Club. Just one example was the day I joined the team at YMCA Metropolitan Los Angeles to run a Code Club training workshop. During the session, we discussed how to facilitate a club and worked on my favourite project together: Lost in space. For some participants it was the first time they created code, but that didn’t stop them from jumping right in!

You might think being a coding beginner would make running Code Club difficult, but I think it can be a real advantage. When the adult in the room doesn’t always have the answers, the kids are pushed to take more ownership of their learning experience, which allows them to develop their own problem-solving skills. It’s also important to remember that not always knowing the answer shows that you’re just human and can really endear you to the students in your club!

Get involved

If you’re interested in joining the Code Club community in the US, then head to our website to register your club and download resources to help you get started.

Follow @CodeClub_USA on Twitter to see what we’re up to, or follow me directly at @Foustberrypi.

Time to get coding in Belfast

Back in August, the Code Club team went to visit a Code Club in Belfast run by some fabulous volunteers from PwC as part of their Hive Hackers project, which engages with 6- to 11-year-olds and teachers at primary schools across the region to teach coding and technology. PwC was also collaborating with the Time to Code programme run by Business in the Community Northern Ireland to set up the sessions.

Ciara Mulgrew, Programme Executive at Business in the Community, came along to the session too. She said: “In today’s digital age, IT literacy is so important. Young people are growing up surrounded by technology, but many still lack the basic IT skills that future jobs will demand.”

Hive Hackers

At this Code Club, the children had been using Code Club Scratch projects to build up their programming skills, and the volunteers had begun each of their sessions with a presentation explaining the learning objectives of the project the club members were going to work on.

“The increase in knowledge that the children displayed was testament to the amount they had learned over the duration of the course. They all gave 100% in every session and weren’t afraid to dive into the deep end.”
— Mark, volunteer from PwC

Our visit took place during the club’s final session, and the volunteers had arranged some special activities. To celebrate the projects that they had created, the children had the opportunity to present and explain their animations on-screen.

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The volunteers had created something special of their own: they finished the session with a quiz, asking questions based on computational thinking concepts and recording the young people’s answers on a live scoreboard. Children viewed the questions on-screen and voted for the correct answer. The scoreboard generated lots of excitement!

“It was great to see that the kids were getting loads of correct answers, reflective of how much they had learned.”
— Niall, volunteer from PwC

We’re thankful for the support of Business in the Community Northern Ireland’s Time to Code programme, whose team connected us with these committed volunteers to get more kids coding.

Get involved

If you’d like to get involved in running Code Club sessions in your local community, you can find out more about volunteering here.