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Raspberry Pi-way code

The following is an excerpt from the Ileach – the independent newspaper for Islay and Jura. Issue 43/20 published 23 July 2016.

Joseph Hughes writes:

A group of young people on an SQA certificated course run by Islay and Jura Youth Action & Argyll College, wanted to learn more about computer coding when their course finished. Argyll College’s Mairi McCuaig was directed to CoderDojo Scotland by Lisa from Argyll Arts Hub who were delighted to hear the group were keen to set up on Islay and offered some training. A successful bid submitted to Fourteen enabled the trip to go ahead.

The CoderDojo Foundation is a volunteer led movement which started in Ireland, but is now reaching out globally. The movement centres around creating and providing spaces for young people between the ages of 7-17 to learn about technology and coding in an environment that encourages learning with peers.

On our trip we met Craig Steele, the founder of the CoderDojo Scotland movement. He introduced us to some of the technology, such as computers like the Raspberry Pi and various programs that are often used at their clubs. We were also taught how we can use them to teach other young people about writing code or using the technology to make games, create music, or even for use in aiding everyday life. Craig also showed us some of the projects CoderDojo had worked on with the BBC to give us ideas for our own club.

Islay and Jura coders visit to CoderDojo Scotland

Islay and Jura coders’ visit to CoderDojo Scotland

Now back home, armed with knowledge and a small amount of kit provided by IJYA, we plan to setup our own CoderDojo clubs back here on Islay and Jura. We plan to have our launch/sign-up day starting at 4:30pm on Thursday 8 September at IDEAs Cabin in Bowmore. More information will follow through newspapers, posters and via the Islay and Jura Youth Action and Islay/Jura Community pages on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

This project was funded from the Fourteen Islay & Jura Programme through the Fourteen Islay & Jura Panel. The Fund is administered by Foundation Scotland


We’re looking forward to seeing the start up and development of the new CoderDojos in Islay and Jura.

Natalie, CoderDojo Scotland

CoderDojo Inverness returns with summer fun!

Thank you to all the children (and parents) who came along to our first summer camp.

They all worked really hard and even taught us a thing or two! Shout out to Jasper’s amazing Micro:bit skills and Ashleigh’s Gizmo website! Inverness CoderDojo now have a new website to make it easier for people to find out what’s happening, book tickets and ask questions. Please have a look and let us know what you think on twitter @HighlandCoder.

Robert Fraser
CoderDojo Inverness


Micro:bit Makers
Micro:bit Makers

“I really enjoyed programming the robots and making my Micro:bit do cool stuff. I hope to come back again.”

 


Learning with Minecraft
Learning with Minecraft

“I liked it because Scratch is cool and I love Minecraft.” Olivia


Introduction to Coding with Scratch
Introduction to Coding with Scratch

“It’s really fun and I love using Scratch at home and the Minecraft day was my favourite. I liked making Alex move a building on my Minecraft account.” Iona


Building for the Web
Building for the Web

“I loved being here, my favourite was making my own website. I hope to see you sometime else this year or maybe more. I enjoyed everything we did.” Ashleigh


CoderDojo Inverness is one of our newest Dojos and has brought CoderDojo back to Inverness after nearly 3 years without a club. Well done for all the hard work to bring it together and for the success of the summer camp!

Inverness will be running a weekly coding club for under 16s every Tuesday at the UHI Stem Hub, starting 23rd August. Book a space now via Eventbrite.

CoderDojo Inverness is run by volunteers. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer mentor with CoderDojo get in touch here.

CoderDojo Inverness

CoderDojo Inverness

All images via @UHISTEM

Understanding Autism

At our dojos we mentor a variety of young people between 7-17 years old, with a wide range of aptitudes and requirements. Some of these young people are on the autism spectrum (including Asperger Syndrome).

To better support them, we’ve teamed up with our friends at the National Autistic Society (Scotland) who will run ‘Understanding Autism’ training for our mentors on the 8th August. The purpose of the training is to provide mentors with a better understanding of the condition, with practical advice on communication, social interaction, and how to create a space that is welcoming for those with autism, .

Find out more about autism and the work that NAS do.

John Bell, CoderDojo Mentor

Meet the Mentors – Meet Amandine

Amandine is one of our newest mentors. A full-stack web developer, she loves coding, fixing problems and is hugely enthusiastic about what CoderDojo does. Amandine will shortly be setting up a new Dojo in Edinburgh – look out for it!

 

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If you only had three words to describe you, what would they be?

Adventurous – I am always on the lookout for a new adventure, whether that be travels or new challenges to take on!

Curious – I love to learn about different cultures and meet all sorts of people.

Troubleshooter – I always find myself trying (and usually succeeding) to fix things… mechanical things… difficult situations… coding problems…

 

Do you work with technology? What do you do?

I do! I am a full-stack web developer, so I work both with front-end and back-end technologies (mainly within a LAMP environment) for a web design and development company based in Leith, Edinburgh, by the Shore.

What made you start coding?

I must have started when I was about maybe 14 years old at the time… it was early ages of the internet back then in the 2000s and I was just drawn to it and started building all kinds of websites with the help of the web and a couple of geek friends when stuck. I was using HTML, CSS, PHP scripts such as PHPBB and Flash for banners and animations mostly.

 

What do you like about coding?

I love that since technology constantly evolves there is always something new to learn. Fixing bugs or making something work that you had no clue about can be exciting and I also find it really rewarding when a site goes live and you see the results of your work out in the open for the world to see!

 

Coding’s a boys’ thing, isn’t it?

I’ve never actually seen it that way… but then I was always more drawn to men than women in both my friendships and work environments, which have always been boy-centred within my previous careers.

I guess it is somehow but I am not sure why and girls should definitely not be afraid to try their hands at it and see how well they can do themselves! Go girls!

 

What’s the one tech you couldn’t live without?

I would probably have to say the internet in general? Or if you are materialistic speaking, then my laptop! I am almost 24/7 online on my laptop, whether that is for work, just browsing sites or streaming TV shows!

 

Are there enough cat videos on Youtube?

Definitely! I am more of a dog person myself you see… 🙂

 

A little bird has told us you’re starting a new CoderDojo in Edinburgh. Can you tell us about it?

Yes! I am currently on the lookout for the right venue to hold a regular Dojo and once all the technological, mentoring and general hosting obstacles are overcome it will be announced so keep an eye on here!

Also, if you are interested in becoming a mentor at it, do get in touch.


To read about Amadine’s adventures with the BBC micro:bit at the Popup Family CoderDojo click here.

Getting our Hands Dirty with the BBC micro:bit

By Amandine Eap

 

Earlier this year, the micro:bit was released by the BBC and their partners which included Microsoft. This pocket-sized code-able computer was released to over 1 million pupils in S1 or equivalent across the UK for free.

On Saturday 25th June 2016, a Popup Family CoderDojo was run in partnership with CodeClan within their Edinburgh headquarters.

The session involved over 35 people (20 young people and 15 adults) and was based around the micro:bit.

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A series of activities was developed which included extra challenges for those wanting to go the extra mile. This setup allowed for young people with different levels of programming knowledge to participate, from the novice to the advanced coder. This helped facilitate a wide age range as well. The participants were from 6 years old to 15 years old and included adults.

The session was kick-started by a small computing quiz in order to get some interactivity going between the attendees and took the form of an ice-breaker, introducing some new knowledge along the way.

The first activity was to build a pedometer and program it so that it would count steps and reset itself to 0 upon the press of a button. Everyone was asked to split into groups of 2 or 3 and get a set consisting of the micro:bit and a laptop to get started. With the help of both adults and mentors (or none at all), the pedometers were built and tried out, which involved some fervent running around the room by some of the young people!

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The second activity was building a ‘Frustration’ wire-loop game which involved a few new bits of equipment such as Play-Doh, wires and crocodile clips. Again, a few different levels of challenges were offered, which allowed for more brain power to be released.

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All the activities seemed to have been welcomed with a great deal of enthusiasm and all the feedback collected was very positive. It was great to see both adults and young people trying to come up with solutions and working together.

Another great session, which shows again how much interest there is from young people towards computing and science in general. Keep your eyes peeled on our events page, our facebook page and twitter for any similar upcoming Edinburgh events.

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We look forward to seeing more from the Edinburgh CoderDojo in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in checking out the micro:bit for yourself, Glasgow Science Centre and Digital Scotland are running a series of micro:bit workshops this summer!

The workshops are for adults accompanied by young people aged between 11 and 17.

Click here to register now.

Visit to CoderDojo Manchester

Joseph has been a mentor for CoderDojo Scotland since the very start, supporting the Dojo at Glasgow Science Centre and then those in Castlemilk and Bridgeton. He is now expanding his horizons and moving to Dundee! Good luck with the new job Joe, our loss will be Dundee's gain.

Here is Joseph’s report from a recent visit to CoderDojo Manchester.

On 8th May 2016, I went on a fact finding visit to Coderdojo Manchester (http://mcrcoderdojo.org.uk/). It was great to see a group of young mentors running one of the activities. They were doing a Roblox activity and had a couple of laptops up on a screen to engage everyone, which seemed to be working as their table was constantly full. This is something I’d really like to encourage, alongside input from adult mentors with experience of teaching coding, as who better to put on a workshop that young people are going to be interested in and engage with than young people themselves?

Something that came across very strongly during my visit to Coderdojo Manchester was the level of parental engagement. I met and talked to several parents during the four-hour session and all were getting really involved in the activities with their children. I had a long conversation with one dad in particular who told me he and his seven year old son had only started coming to the Dojo three months ago but had learned so much – both of them – in that time. The resilience his son showed whilst working on the coding challenges was incredible for such a young age and his dad echoed my amazement when telling me what they had achieved, together, in the last three months. Now that CoderDojo Castlemilk has moved to a larger venue, more parental involvement is something we could look at.

Coderdojo Manchester is a really large Dojo, run in a big, airy, open space. I wasn’t sure before I went how the four-hour session – twice as long as I am used to – would work, but the huge range of activities meant everyone could choose what they wanted to do and move between stations at leisure – a great opportunity particularly for younger coders who might not be able to concentrate on a single activity for very long. Furthermore, it gives everyone a chance to find their niche by trying out a variety of activities throughout the day and throughout the year at the Dojo.

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CoderDojo Manchester

Some of the stations at Manchester Coderdojo were fairly standard – a whole table of Raspberry Pis, for instance, was full all day – but there were also some stations which took me a little more by surprise. In particular, my interest was piqued by a table hosting the “littleBits” kit, a huge set of electronics – colour changing LEDs, buzzers, motors, various sensors, programmable speakers, … the lot! See http://littlebits.cc/ for more info. Younger kids, especially, seemed to take really well to this station and the fact that a circuit can be built and used in just seconds helped to keep them interested. Although littleBits is not programming it is possible to combine it with other tech, like the MakeyMakey, once kids have mastered the logic going on in the circuitry – logic being a hugely important aspect of programming.

Just along from the littleBits were a few novelty coding enthusiasts who were in the process of creating a robot orchestra by programming electronics like servos (basically a motor which enables you to control the angle of its spin) and had come along to showcase their work. Great to see how people are using the concepts being learned at the Dojo out in the real world! Might just inspire some of the kids to take forward an idea of their own.

It was great to know that, in addition to this huge Dojo, many of the mentors here also run or help to run smaller Dojos in the area, serving more local communities. All the young people – young mentors and learners –were very confident which was fantastic to see but I think this is no coincidence. Possibly, less confident youngsters are less likely to get themselves involved in such a large club, be it a Coderdojo or any other type of group. So I think we need the best of both worlds: these smaller, local Dojos will, I’m sure, serve these young people’s needs best, helping them to grow their confidence in a smaller environment. They may then one day search out the bright lights of Manchester Coderdojo!

To sum up, this was a great day from start to finish. I was made to feel so welcome by the team at Coderdojo Manchester and everyone (mentors, young mentors, visitors, café staff, parents, learners) was really keen to share their experiences with me and answer my questions. I think the Coderdojo community country-wide should engage in dialogue with each other – be that electronically or in person – because there are so many good ideas out there that the next Dojo might just not have thought of yet but which would be a fantastic addition to their Dojo. Finally, a big thank you to all at Coderdojo Manchester for welcoming me and I hope we stay in touch!

The Life of a Web Developer

CoderDojo Bridgeton mentor David Anderson recently visited St Matthew's Primary school in Bishopbriggs to share with the pupils what it’s like working in the technology sector.
 
He was interviewed by the Primary 7 pupils as part of their World of Work day and, oh boy, did they thoroughly quiz him! 
 
The pupils were really enthusiastic about what David does for a living (he’s a web developer) and asked lots of smart questions to find out more. 
 
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Here’s what some of them said after they had thoroughly grilled him:
 
"When I spoke to Mr Anderson he was very interesting.  He told me all about CoderDojo and I learned that a lot of problem solving is involved when you develop software.  It is a very unique job and sounds fun!" (Clare, P7)
 
 
"Mr Anderson explained that teamwork is very important and so is patience! You need to be good at using technology and it is a fun job." (Layla, P7)
 
 
"I would give Mr Anderson 5 stars out of 5.  He has a great talent and shared a lot of useful information with us.  Working at CoderDojo sounds like a very exciting and interesting career!  I would love to learn more." (Lucy)
 
David is very proud of his ‘5 stars out of 5’ and has promised to add it to his CV and LinkedIn profile!
 
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John Bell
CoderDojo Bridgeton

Meet the Mentors – Meet Carole

Carole is a web developer, a long-time CoderDojo mentor at a number of Dojos across Scotland and an advocate for increasing the number of girls and women in coding. Here she tells us about her top tips for young coders, her favourite programming language (or not!) and how she couldn't live without the wonder that is the World Wide Web.


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What’s the best thing about being a CoderDojo mentor?

 
"I enjoy helping others to learn new skills and always thought about being a teacher when I was at school. This way I get to enjoy my career in something I enjoy: coding, but also get to teach in my free time.

 

 
The best thing about being a mentor at Coder Dojo is seeing someone who starts off not knowing what they are doing and leaving full of confidence with that I made something awesome look on their face."

 

 

 
What age were you when you started coding?

 

 
"I am not sure really, whenever it was first taught in high school, so I was maybe about 14. I always liked computers and was forever playing on our home PC so computing was an obvious choice for standard grades and highers at school."

 

 
How did you get into it in the first place?

 

 
"In standard grade computing at high school. I'm not one of these people who have been coding in my own personal projects since I was really young. I was pretty good at it at school because it was all about logic and following rules (an algorithm) but I just liked computing in general at that point. I didn't know I wanted to be a programmer until about half way through university!"

 

 
What awesome tip do you have for young coders?

 

 
"Don't be scared. To try things, to break things, to ask for help. No one gets everything right first time, even if they pretend like they do!"

 

 
What’s your favourite programming language (and why!)?

 

 
"I don't think I have a particular favourite, I just like using whatever is best for the scenario. If you pick a cool idea for what you want to make then make other choices like programming language or framework from there. Being a programmer, you can't get too attached to one particular language, it may be obsolete soon!"

 

What do you like about coding?


"I like making stuff. Seeing your code come to life and make your project work is great fun. That "It works!!" moment after running your code makes the challenging parts worth it."
 
 
What’s the one tech you couldn’t live without?

 

 
"Probably the World Wide Web (WWW). Without this I couldn't use my smartphone or PC for all the browsing/streaming/tracking/communicating I do all day…  or most importantly, I wouldn't have a job!"

 

 
And the one you wish you’d invented?

 

 
"The WWW. Life literally wouldn't be the same without it. In just a short amount of time it has become such an important part of our lives. It must be pretty cool being Sir Tim Berners-Lee getting to see how much he has impacted the world."

 

 
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
 
If you were a super-hero, who would you be?

 

 
"Being Iron man seems like it would be good fun: all the money in the world to buy and make cool tech. "
 
 
 

To find out more about why Carole thinks coding is such a 'must have' skill read her guest post on the Ayrshire College blog.

If you're interested in volunteering to mentor at CoderDojo, great! Get in touch here.

Gaming for a Greener World

Going Green at CoderDojo Moray
Going Green at CoderDojo Moray

On Saturday CoderDojo Moray held an all ages computing event as part of the 2016 Moray Science Festival's Families Day. The theme of the day was Going Green.

Four of CoderDojo Moray's regular members came along to help festival visitors through the range of Going Green activities. In addition, three adult volunteers from the local Maker-Space, T- Exchange, came to share their knowledge.

Going Green at CoderDojo Moray
Going Green at CoderDojo Moray
 

We created a small custom-made website for the event linked to a range of online age-graded Ecological/Scientific online games. Many of the visitors, young and old alike wanted to find out about Scratch and how to create their own games/animations. Several intended to download it themselves when they got home along with support materials from Scratch.

They could also make stop-motion games using webcams on the CoderDojo set of recycled computers. Boxes of Lego and recycled cardboard/paper provided the materials alongside plastic figures of dragons etc…..

Meet the Mentors – Meet John

After volunteering with CoderDojo Stirling and helping out with CoderDojo Glasgow events in the summer of 2014, John started Dojos in Castlemilk and Bridgeton to reach out to young people who sometimes lack opportunities to use digital technology creatively.


 

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What age did you start coding?

 
"I started when I was 12 when I got a ZX Spectrum computer for my Christmas. I was SO excited. It had a whopping 16KB of memory, a rubber keyboard (yes, really), and plugged into the TV. I tried to teach myself BASIC on it but it was a real struggle. There was no-one to help me, no internet to look stuff up on (the web hadn’t been invented!) and none of my pals were interested. Sad to say it but I gave up and didn’t do any more coding until I was 23. I wish CoderDojo had been around when I was 12!"

 
 
Why did you start coding?
 
"I wanted to build my own flight simulation game. It was slightly harder than I expected!"

 
 
What do you enjoy about being a CoderDojo mentor? 
 
 
"I love helping young people be inventive, be creative, and do things that they didn’t know were possible. I love the smiles of surprise and joy that comes from making things. Not all young people have technology at home to help them learn to code and I think it’s really important that all young people get the chance to try it. I also really enjoy working with the other mentors. The volunteers I work with are a great bunch and we have a really good laugh. It's also been brilliant to collaborate with other organisations like Thenue Housing Association, MadeBrave and BeYonder – it's amazing to work with others who are supporting young people in developing their skills (and having masses of fun at the same time!)"

 



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Coding’s not creative, is it?
 
 
"What?! Yes it is! Coding is an amazing way of being expressive. You can use coding to make art, music, animation, clothing, loads of things!  Coding is a skill that’s increasingly being learned by people like artists, musicians and designers because it helps them realise their ideas."

 

 
 
What’s your favourite programming language (and why!)? 
 
 
"I really like Ruby because you can do a lot of stuff in just a few lines of code. It’s also easy to read (when it’s written well!) and easier to write than many languages. (One of the first languages I learned was C, which was really hard to learn!)"

 
 
What do you like about coding?
 
 
"I like solving problems, being creative and doing things that are challenging. Coding ticks all these boxes! I also love learning and, because technology is always changing, there are always new things to learn."

 

 
 
What’s the one tech you couldn’t live without?
 
 
"I love a note-taking app called Evernote. It’s brilliant. I use it many times every day. It’s really helpful and helps me stay (sort of!) organised."

 

 
What one tech do you wish you’d invented?
 
"The World Wide Web. It’s totally transformed our lives and has dramatically increased the amount of information we have access to and the way in which we communicate with each other."

If you're interested in volunteering to mentor at CoderDojo, great! Get in touch here.