This week I’ll be mentioning an activity closer to home for me – we launched a Code Club in Tamworth Library in Staffordshire. This is the third code club within Staffordshire, and several more are planned in our other libraries.
Code Clubs are aimed at 9-11 year olds who are interested in making their own computer games. Of course they learn far more than that – coding is about problem solving, creativity, thinking outside the box, teamwork, and sharing knowledge. Not to mention the fun they have! They are overseen by the Code Club website, which has all the resources and instructions you need for running a club, and also contains lists and maps of all the other Code Clubs in the UK. You can choose one to attend, or one to volunteer at!
In the UK all children do coding at school, and virtually all of our 9 children attending had seen the coding training website, Scratch, before. It is seen as a really important part of gearing the next generation for the future – where the majority of all jobs in 10 years’ time will require coding skills.
These clubs are run by volunteers, and our volunteer is actually a computer programmer by trade, who wants to give something back to the young people through this one-hour-a-week club. We put posters up in the library, which he saw and then got in touch with us. The resources are all provided in the form of projects, which get progressively harder, and contain fewer instructions as the coders get more confident at finding things out for themselves.
In this very first week, we could see how much fun they were having by going off at a tangent from the instructions to make things work differently – and they felt a sense of achievement at the end of the project. 5:00 came all too soon, and they left very keen to carry on learning at home – they all have a username to get onto the Scratch website from anywhere.
We organise the club in 12 session blocks – the first block runs from now until the school term ends at Christmas. After this the group get certificates and then can progress onto other programming languages like Python. But for now it’s fantastic to see a very hard-to-reach group coming into the library and having a great time learning how to code. Not a bad way to celebrate National Coding Week this week!