I gave up some of my Saturday this week to attend something called a Code Club at Barnsley Library. It’s an event that runs weekly for 5-8 year olds, teaching them how to code and work with electronics - I was blown away by what I saw!
The sessions run for an hour and a half at Wellington House and give the kids access to Raspberry Pi’s on which they can create their own software programs using HTML, CSS, Scratch and straight up Python code. They can also use electronic components on breadboards to read sensors, process their data and affect buzzers, LED’s and the likes, courtesy of CamJam Edu Kits.
It’s all part of the wider Code Club UK initiative - a nationwide network of volunteers and educators who run free coding clubs. Attendance provides access to what is essentially a curriculum running from entry level to more advanced topics and projects.
The level of skill in such a young room, I have to say was outstanding! I watched as one lad got stuck with a particular piece of code and so started disecting other tutorial examples to see if he could work out his own solution to the problem. He then turned to Google before eventually getting through it. His approach was spot on and to see that from someone so young was just superb.
I originally went along to see how what they do in that club mirrors our own efforts with the new Barnsley Skunkworks and there were striking similarities between the two (aside from the age of our youthful skunkworks membership of course). If nothing else, there was a talent pool in that room that’s one to watch for the future. On a very real level, it may even be possible for the Skunkworks to share actual work with them - real world problems needing solutions, that they could solve.
I’ve said I’ll keep in touch with the volunteer organisers about the work we’re doing and I’d certainly like to make sure the Code Club is featured in next years Barnsley Future Festival (more on that later).
Sometimes, it’s beneficial to step out of the day job and just take a look around. This was definitely one of those occassions.