Getting to grips with digital making at Picademy

‘Picademy? What’s it all about?’ I hear you say. Liz, Code Club’s Regional Coordinator for the North West, tells us more…

When I began volunteering with Code Club I had no idea what a Raspberry Pi is, and by the time I started working at Code Club I wasn’t that much wiser. So when the Google Garage came to Manchester, and with it a chance to attend Picademy, the free 2-day CPD programme for UK educators delivered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, I jumped at the chance to go.

There are so many ‘best things about Picademy’ that I’m not sure where to start. The swag was fantastic, the tutors were brilliant, and the workshops were varied and inspirational. On Day 1, we’d covered Scratch GPIO, Python, Sonic Pi, and Minecraft all before lunch, and afterwards expanded our digital skills repertoire in workshops about the Explorer Hat and the Pi Camera. By the end of the day, I’d made flashing things, spinning things, noisy things, and so much more!

If I thought Day 1 was good, then Day 2 was amazing! It was so amazing that I forgot to stop for lunch, and I’m not the kind of person who does that often! Day 2 of Picademy is a hack day where you use your new skills and your imagination to bring something to life. My project was a hat for people playing Minecraft which lights up in different colours depending on which surface Minecraft Steve is standing on – totally useless, completely impractical, and definitely not something that’s going to feature at New York Fashion Week, but so much fun to make! I combined my new knowledge of circuits with some Python code and Minecraft linking, then did a lot of debugging and tweaking until everything worked as intended, and I finished with around 2 minutes to spare!

Each Picademy ends with a big show-and-tell where everyone presents what they’ve made, and there is a lot of laughter, applause, and shared insights. You then you get a badge, a certificate, and are welcomed to the Raspberry Pi Certified Educator community – I think I smiled all the way home!


I’ve been lucky enough to visit Picademy a few more times since then. First I gatecrashed the end of the Picademy at Madlab earlier this year, so I could loudly applaud the new batch of Certified Educators and see their creations firsthand. Then I attended a staff Picademy session at our Cambridge office where the team I worked with created a ‘mug shot’ device (a camera seated on a plastic mug!) that takes your photo, adds a cartoon, and tweets you the result.


If you’re is thinking about attending a Picademy near you, I completely recommend it. And if you’re not able to go to a physical Picademy, have a go at one of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s FutureLearn courses and really immerse yourself in the online community of Raspberry Pi-trained educators – you’ll get loads out of it!

If you’ve already attended a Picademy, make sure you take part in the Raspberry Pi Certified Educators survey 2017


New members of the Regional Team!

CRobot 003ode Club’s amazing Regional Coordinators are our eyes and ears on the ground across the country, attending events and supporting our volunteers and partners on a local level.

We’re really pleased to welcome three new members to the team – Victoria who will be covering the North East, Yorkshire and Humber; Mark who will be our Wales Coordinator; and Caroline, our new South West Coordinator.

We spoke to each of them to find out a little bit more about what brought them to Code Club:


20160427_105209_26088758384_oI’m Victoria, and I am very chuffed indeed to be working for Code Club in such a wonderful part of the world as Yorkshire, Humber and the North East of England.

I grew up in North Yorkshire where as a child I spent many hours coding in BASIC on a ZX Spectrum and saving my very quirky invented games onto a little cassette tape. I continued being an ultra geek by learning the viola and studying Old Norse at university. Since then, I have literally made following my passions into an art form – gaining a PhD in history of art, qualifying as a French translator, singing in a swing trio, and curating my own bilingual children’s library.

I finally began work in a real library in North Yorkshire in 2012 before coming full circle back to coding, and now have the enormous privilege and fun of running Code Clubs and getting to talk and write about them all day!

Do follow me on my personal Twitter for forays into feminism, humanism, libraryism and veganism at @yorkshirewords, but for Code Club chat, it’s @codeclubYandH or @codeclubNE. And my email for anything and everything Code Club related across the whole region is


2016-04-25 18.03.05Hi – or ‘Schmae’ (Welsh for hello) – I’m Mark the new Code Club Coordinator for Wales. I live in Rhyl on the beautiful North Wales coast.

My exposure to the world of software and computing started in high school way back in 1982. We used a tele-type machine linked to the local college mainframe. I subsequently went on to study computing at the same college and spent two years learning COBOL, BASIC and various other programming languages. After that I went on to work in various roles in software development, technology and skills training.

I now come to Code Club after returning to North Wales and starting an artisan bakery, of all things! Over the last couple of years I’ve developed a strong desire to help build the homegrown Welsh ‘tech’ and creative capability; and key to this will be skills. So having the opportunity to work with Code Club is perfect for me.

I look forward to working with and supporting our volunteers and supporters across Wales. If you want to get in touch please do, via


PRO20234Hi there, my name is Caroline and I am the new South West Coordinator for Code Club. My interest in computing started in the 1980’s, with a personal computer called the Sinclair ZX-81, shortly followed by the ZX Spectrum. I literally spent hours typing in the programs from the “Sinclair User” magazine, tweaking the code.

Some years later, it was my maths teacher at Sixth Form who finally convinced me I should drop the idea of studying Graphic Design at Art College and instead concentrate my efforts only on studying Computer Science.

After a BTEC OND (Ordinary National Diploma) in Computer Studies and a HND in Computer Studies, I started my Bachelor of Science Degree Course at Brighton University. After graduating in 1993, I joined Microsoft, where I continued to work for a little under ten years. After having my second child, I decided to take a break from my career.

Giving up the day job however, was not an excuse to miss out on technological advancements and I found volunteering at my children’s school a great way of keeping in touch. When I discovered that Code Club were looking for new volunteers, I decided to get involved. With the help of the STEM Ambassador programme and three other like-minded people, I launched not one, but two Code Clubs in Taunton.

With my experience as a volunteer, I am looking forward to helping others get their own Code Clubs started in my new role as Regional Coordinator. Feel free to drop me a line at, I look forward to hearing from you!

Our Regional Coordinators are there to support you! Got a question about volunteering, a problem or an issue to address? Get in touch with your local coordinator for support and advice:

Mark Ellis: Wales Coordinator –

Una McDermott: Northern Ireland Coordinator –

Lorna Gibson: Scotland Coordinator –

Liz Smart: North West Coordinator –

Victoria Sauron: North East and Yorkshire Coordinator –

Tim Wilson: West Midlands Coordinator –

Katharine Childs: East Midlands Coordinator –

Dan Elwick: London and East of England Coordinator –

Caroline Vaan-Canning: South West Coordinator –

Dan Powell: South East Coordinator –

Meet our new Participation Manager!

Hi there, good to meet you folks!

My name is Sarah and I am the new Participation Manager at Code Club. Some of you might have already met me as I’ve been developing training materials and helping to deliver training sessions for volunteers across the UK.


So, what does this marvellous new Participation Manager do, I hear you ask? Well, training for volunteers is a part of my job, but my main mission is to onboard and reward volunteers. In other words, to make sure that if you want to volunteer for Code Club the process of signing up is as easy as possible, and that once you are volunteering you get looked after nicely and get all the support you need :)

The first thing I want to do is find out how our volunteers use the resources we already offer and what we could add or improve upon to make your experience as part of Code Club even better! I’ve set up Google Hangouts at different times over the next few weeks so we can chat.

If you can’t join me on the hangouts, feel free to drop me a line instead with thoughts or ideas about how we can improve the experience of volunteering with Code Club. Just send me an email:

Also, if you’re coming to the Code Club Birthday Party in London on 30th April do come and say hi – I’ll be the one in charge of the cake.