Hackhorsham Code Club Festival 2017, big projection

The Horsham Code Club Festival

HackHorsham’s recent Horsham Code Club Festival was a massive success, with volunteers, kids, and educators from across Sussex coming together for a day of coding, catching up, and exploring the fascinating world of STEAM.

HackHorsham

As a Regional Coordinator for Code Club, I’m lucky to work with some amazing partner organisations across the South East of England. One such organisation is HackHorsham, who are based in the charming Mid Sussex town of Horsham. HackHorsham was started three years ago by Gavin Hewins, Marcus Tyler-Moore, and Nik Butler, because they wanted to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths) in the Horsham area.

The idea

In late 2016 Gavin, Marcus, and Nik approached me with an idea: they wanted to run a Horsham Code Club Festival. The event would bring together Code Clubbers from across Sussex for an exciting day of coding and making. It would also help to increase the visibility of young people who are enthusiastic about digital making, and make teachers take note of our efforts and resources, so that coding clubs might in future become as prominent in schools as football teams or choirs. Needless to say, I was on board immediately!

HackHorsham had already gained support for their idea from the Met Office, pi-top, and Horsham-based companies Red River Software and Reduced Hackers, as well as Creative Assembly, the local game developer that produces the hugely successful Total War series. I was more than happy to provide marketing support by advertising the event to local Code Club leaders and talking about it at meetups and events.

The festival

On Sunday 9 July, I made my way to the Capitol Theatre in Horsham, along with three members of the Code Club I run at my daughter’s school with Wendy Armstrong. At the theatre, we met 50 other eager Code Clubbers and their parents. After an introduction to the day from the partner organisations, we headed over to the Horsham Council’s offices, which the Council let us use for free. We kicked off with a workshop run by the amazing Cat Lamin. Cat showed the children how to use pi-tops and Python to make some traffic lights flash – a great introduction to digital making. She and her team were brilliant, and their infectious enthusiasm really got the children going!

Kids play with PiTops at Hack Horsham Code Club Festival

Young coders Morgan and Tilly get to grips with the pi-top. Picture credit: Dennison Studios Photography

After lunch, one half of the children worked with the Met Office using their Weather API and the Raspberry Pi Sense HAT, a device with a display and a bank of sensors. With the help of its temperature sensor, the kids compared the in-room temperature to the temperature reported by the Met Office. Children were also invited to interact with several stands run by the Met Office. Among them was one about the ArcGIS mapping system where kids could create story boards on maps, and one about the Turing machine where they learned about logic. The Met Office also showed the children an old Met Office Supercomputer and a Raspberry Pi cluster computer.

At the same time, the other half of the kids took part in a workshop run by Femi, a remarkable 11-year-old who is a recipient of the Diana Award. He took the time to attend the festival before flying off to Bangladesh to help 100 children from low-income families learn digital making and coding! Femi’s workshop was about Crumble robotics, and saw our Code Clubbers build their own robot buggies and then race them against each other.

There was also a stand run by Gavin Hewins, who was showcasing the always popular Mad Music Machine that uses Sonic Pi and a bank of Raspberry Pis. He encouraged people to alter the coded music the machine plays using its multitude of levers, joysticks, toggles, and sliders.

At 15.00, we all headed back to the Capitol Theatre for a ceremony in which the Code Clubbers who took part were invited onto the stage to get a certificate or award. I was delighted that our Code Club’s team won an Innovation Award for their idea for a Raspberry Pi-powered greenhouse that includes a weeding robot. What a fast-paced afternoon full of fun, laughter, and digital making!

The aftermath

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the amazing job HackHorsham did putting on this event! It was a truly fantastic day, and we’ve had universally positive feedback. Yvonne Swinson, a teacher at Milton Mount Primary School, said: “What a great day for our young coders. Thanks for organising the event. Our Milton Mount team had a fantastic time!”

HackHorsham are already thinking about next year’s event, and they want to make it even bigger and better! So watch this space…

Join us at Bett 2017!

Next week brings another opportunity for educators to visit Code Club and the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Bett 2017, the huge annual EdTech event in London. We’ll be at ExCeL London from 25-28 January, and we’ll be running more than 50 workshops and talks over the four days. Whether you’re a school teacher or a community educator, there’s something for you: visit our stand (G460) to discover ways to bring the power of digital making to your classroom and beyond.

BROWSE OUR TALK AND WORKSHOP TIMETABLE

Find us at our STEAM Village stand (G460) to take part in free physical computing and STEAM workshops, as well as talks led by Code Club staff, and members of the Code Club community. The Raspberry Pi Foundation have a huge range of workshops running for all levels of ability, which will give you the opportunity to get hands-on with digital making in a variety of different ways.

Below are some of the Code Club workshops you may be interested in joining:

Date Time Session Name Location
Wednesday 25 January 12:30 How to start a successful Code Club in your school G460
15:30 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
16:45 Computing Playground with Raspberry Pi and Code Club G460
Thursday 26th January 11:45 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
12:30 Adventures in Primary Computing G460
16:15 How to start a successful Code Club in your school G460
Friday 27th January 13:00 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
16:45 Computing Playground with Raspberry Pi and Code Club G460
Saturday 28th January 10:30 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
12:30 How to start a successful Code Club in your school G460
13:00 Code Club Primer Session HE Summit Space
14:15 Computing Playground with Raspberry Pi and Code Club G460

Additionally, our CEO Philip Colligan will be launching an exciting new free initiative to support educators, live in the Bett Show Arena at 13:25 on Wednesday 25 January. Philip will be joined by a panel of educators who are leading the movement for classroom computing and digital making.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to speak to so many different educators from across the world. It’s really important to us to spend time with all of you face-to-face: we want to hear about the great things you’re doing, answer your questions, and learn about the way you work and the challenges you face so we can improve the things we do. We really do value your feedback enormously, so please don’t hesitate for a moment to come over and ask questions, query something, or just say hi! And if you have questions you’d like to ask us ahead of Bett, just leave us a comment below.

See you next week!

London Technology Week

This week was London Technology Week, and across the capital events have been taking place to celebrate the city’s rapidly growing technology sector and all the awesome stuff that’s happening with it.

What we’ve been up to this week:

techday

Photo Courtesy of @Dragonhall’s Twitter

On Tuesday we joined a lot of eager young coders, as well as their parents and teachers, at #TechDay at Dragon Hall in Holborn. We had a lot of fun demonstrating some of our Scratch projects, and seeing some great ‘wow’ moments as kids and adults alike tried their hand at some coding!

We were also invited along to an event at Croydon Tech City, to learn more about the vibrant emerging tech scene in the Croydon area. They are helping us to spread the word about Code Club through their Future Tech City strand and have set themselves a target to have a Code Club in every primary school in the borough – hooray!

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Superstar volunteers Marc Grossman, Paul Sinnett and Saleha Salahudin were running a stand talking to people about the awesome club they run in a local library – and they were drawing a big crowd with some Makey Makey banana pianos!

We still need more London volunteers!

Code Club’s history is well rooted in London – it’s where many of our longest running clubs and volunteers are situated. However, there’s still huge demand for more volunteers to start new clubs in and around the city (as well as many other areas of the UK as well). In fact, right now, within 5 miles of London City Hall, there are 61 venues looking for volunteers to run a Code Club.

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So, if you’re based in London, and think that you can spare 1 hour a week to share your passion for technology with the next generation – then check out our website to learn how you can start your own Code Club.