Learning what didn’t work for me – I started my volunteering journey over a couple of years ago and have come a long way since, learning many important lessons along the way. My initial volunteering opportunities were with organizations that offered various social services to the poor. However for various reasons those didn’t quite work out and a few months i decided to drop out. I had to go back to the drawing board and had to really think through what was it i had to offer. It didn’t come to me easily and it was really hard for me work out what is it that i really wanted to help out with. It took a lot of soul searching to work out where my interests lie, but eventually i got there. I realized that i liked working with children and i am also a hacker + maker at heart. So what if i combined the love for hacking + making with working with kids. I did my research, looking for challenges that sat at the intersection of those two interests. Eventually i stumbled across codeclub international and CoderDojo.
Starting a Code Club – It took me a while to work out which way i was going to go i.e. start a new codeclub or a CoderDojo. The homework that i did told me that Code Club International (https://codeclubau.org) had some really awesome learning content but CoderDojo (https://coderdojo.com/) had a much more stronger brand that i could leverage when promoting the kids code club. I admit i might have been completely wrong on that one but that was just my understanding and how i read the situation when i was doing my homework. I ended up deciding that i would setup my own CoderDojo, there wasn’t any opportunity to volunteer at one close by. It was a decision i would commit myself to. It’s been a year and a half since i made that decision and i should admit that I have absolutely no regrets.
Am based in Melbourne, Australia and given how backward we are in terms of providing our kids here affordable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning opportunities one would think that setting up a Code Club for kids would be easy but it wasn’t to be the case. I had decided by then that i wanted to start my own code club given the lack of code clubs in the west of Melbourne. So I went ahead and started planning things out. Finding affordable space that i could rent (initially), obtaining sponsorship for insurance cover, trying to get the local council’s support to run the show, etc. were just some of the challenges I faced. It took me a really long time to work through the red tape at the local council and find people who were ready to support the initiative but when i did many doors opened up and i am really thankful for that. Once i had the support from the local council the space was provided for free and all i had to invest in was putting together the content for the sessions. We have come a long way since and thanks to support from the local council we’ve been able to invest in some really fancy electronics kits, robotics kits, maker kits, etc. which the kids get to work with every week in class.
It’s been a great ride and I am absolutely privileged to have the opportunity to serve the community I live in. You can check out CoderDojo Altona North at http://altonanorthdojo.com.
What makes running a code club so much fun – There are many many reasons i absolutely love running the CoderDojo. Here’s some of the key ones that come to mind –
- Am able to offer kids the opportunity to learn fundamentals of computing including coding, robotics, electronics etc. which otherwise would be out of reach for a lot of families (unless they chose to attend expensive holiday code camps)
- I have the opportunity to work with kids who are really switched on and want to learn more about coding, electronics, robotics, etc. What else can i ask for!!!!
- I have the opportunity to work with kids who unlike most adults have the ability to think out of the box and come up with approaches / ideas that adults would very quickly dismiss, think unfeasible.
- Am forced to be on my toes and keep learning so that i can introduce my kids to the latest trends in electronics, robotics, coding, etc.
- I get the opportunity to work with some really great volunteers who help me learn new things and discover new ways of doing things.
- I have the opportunity to work with parents and help them shape their kids STEM learning journey. Above everything else we help our kids build critical life skills which will be useful to them whatever career they end up choosing.
- As a CoderDojo champion i have the opportunity to try out different ideas, group term projects where we work on electronics and robotics. It’s a great way to get kids to stretch themselves and also get the kids parents involved in the process of coding, making and creating.
- Am able to take the learning I’ve generated and help start other code clubs across Melbourne. Am keen to see how we can give other kids and parents around Melbourne similar STEM learning opportunities.
- I have the opportunity to give back to the community which has given me so much. I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to serve the community i live in.
Hopefully i have given enough reasons to start your kids code club. If you think it’s too much hassle and not something you are willing to do I would recommend heading over to the Code Club International website (https://codeclubau.org) and the CoderDojo website (https://coderdojo.com/) to look for a local code club that is looking for volunteers. You don’t really have to be a guru in any particular subject. Knowledge and interest in a particular STEM area is definitely a bonus and if you have the interest you can pick up the relevant STEM concepts required to help run the club.
About CoderDojo – CoderDojo is a global volunteer-led community of free programming workshops for young people between 7 and 17. The movement is a grassroots organisation with individual clubs (called “Dojos”) acting independently. A charity called the CoderDojo Foundation operates out of Dublin and supports the various clubs by providing a central website and some other support services. Supporters of CoderDojo believe it is part of the solution to addressing the global shortage of programmers by exposing young people to ICT (Information & Communication Technology) at a young age. The movement has seen significant growth since its founding. The CoderDojo Foundation estimates 1,250 Dojos spread across 69 countries, with a growth rate of several new Dojos every week. Learn more about CoderDojo here – https://coderdojo.com
About CodeClub – Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led coding clubs with a mission to get kids coding. CodeClub is a charity with the aim of giving every child the skill, confidence and opportunity to shape their world. All Code Clubs are free to join, and are supported by volunteers, parents, educators and our partners. Initially founded in the United Kingdom in 2012, Code Club is now part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK based charity that works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world. There are over 10,000 clubs in more than 120 countries, and our projects have been translated into 28 languages. The free, sustainable and project based content empowers children and volunteers all over the world to get kids coding.
Learn more about Code Club here – http://codeclub.org
Hopefully you have enjoyed the post. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future tutorials drop us a note at – learning at hack2 dot live.
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