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JSingleton
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Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:28 am

I've volunteered to run a Code Club at a local primary school. The school that was looking for a volunteer has yet to get back to me so I'm after some advice.

The club starts off with Scratch and moves onto Python. There are materials and handouts provided. I guess there isn't a good reason to use Raspberry Pis if there are already computing resources. Scratch and Python will run on most computers and performance may be better. Pis may be good if I want to teach hardware sensing and control but I'd need to make the materials myself in that case.

Has anyone here got experience in running a Code Club and have any advice to share?
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croston
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:40 am

Just starting a new code club myself this week during lunchtime at a local school. I'm in the same boat and not exactly sure what to expect yet either. My thinking was exactly the same as your's - save RPi for physical computing (robots, traffic lights etc).

estephan500
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:40 am

Just to be a devil's advocate... if all other things are equal, deep down I feel that there is a benefit for the students to be able to see the simple, tangible machine they are operating on while they learn coding. ... for example, if a kid is logged in to some computer lab PC that's half as large as their own body... logging into the computer network with some user account... the feeling becomes "well I learned that if I am logged into this strange system at my school, and find my way into this system on there... yeah I did some coding." Whereas if a kid has a raspberry pi sitting in front of them, and perhaps they even own their very own SD ram card which is THEIRS... when they code, I feel that the experience might have a bit more universality to it. Especially if there is the prospect that they might come across raspberry pis later on in life (or at home.)

Really just throwing this out there because it's an interesting concept. I'm not intensely arguing that you change your course. :)

eric

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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:47 am

I was playing around with my Pi a year or so ago and it has gotten forgotten amongts other stuff. I too have volunteered to do a coding club. I will keep an eye on this thread and look to dust the Pi off!

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jack.chaney
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:04 pm

Have not run a "code club" but have been in charge of youth based groups in the past. If you are starting a youth based group, you need to determine your goals. As the organizer, and initiator of a "club", you need to maintain your motivation to keep the process moving, and you also need to know if direction is changing after it reaches critical mass, which is when you decide to redirect, follow the flow, or, for the best of the group, leave.

Seems a code club would want to study code (theory and practice), and develop projects. Study sessions would include how-to examples for all levels of skill, from simple branching, to sorting and searching methods, data structures, and communication. Projects can be small team based with the ability to float from one team to another. As the leader, you get to manage conflict and unfair exclusion.

Most of all, do not, at any time, underestimate ability. The easiest way to be proven wrong is to say "you can't do that".

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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:57 pm

A key reason for using a Pi here is the gpio - everyone, not just kids, gets a kick out of making a motor spin or an led flash under control of something they wrote.
Whilst it is possible to find USB connected io doohickeys for boring old laptops etc, they tend to cost more than a Pi.
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hastklass
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:34 pm

You are spot on - Scratch works much better on a Win PC. The USP of the Pi for a Primary school is GPIO but stay clear of breadboard and jumper wires - far too difficult for primary school children. I run clubs for this age range using the gPiO interface. Brilliant for control and physical computing projects.
No need to buy expensive components - works with cheap, off the self ones.
Have a look at their website (http://www.gpio.co.uk) - they publish teaching resources and project ideas.
Good luck
Hastklass

LPrince
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:12 pm

Hi, I'm hoping to run a coding club in my primary school. Or, rather, host one, we're outsourcing the actual delivery of the club. I was expecting to use the ICT suite, which has the usual array of PCs, but can't seem to find a suitable day. So I was wondering about Raspberry Pi, which could be used in any available class room. If, and it's a huge if, I can get the finance to buy some Raspberry Pis, what would I actually need to buy? I've seen them available on Amazon at £28 for a basic model, but I've also seen a starter kit £50, which includes a memory card, some wires, etc. Would that be sufficient, and I could just plug a regular keyboard in? Sorry for all the questions, I know practically nothing about these, but am really keen to get the children learning to program.

gatorback
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:44 am

If you have access to Simulink ($100), I suggest that try running the youtube demos for students to inspire them. The future is bright for the next generation if they choose to make it so.

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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:33 pm

LPrince wrote:If, and it's a huge if, I can get the finance to buy some Raspberry Pis, what would I actually need to buy? I've seen them available on Amazon at £28 for a basic model, but I've also seen a starter kit £50, which includes a memory card, some wires, etc. Would that be sufficient, and I could just plug a regular keyboard in? Sorry for all the questions, I know practically nothing about these, but am really keen to get the children learning to program.
Any keyboard and mouse that's USB will work fine. I'm looking into obtaining Pis for school as well, and the starter packs are very tempting. I'd say if you can find a starter pack with just the Pi, USB power, and memory card (preferably a NOOBS card), that's the easiest way to get up and running. The alternative option is to buy just Pis, scrounge up a bunch of USB chargers, and buy a bunch of SD cards separately and manually flash them with NOOBS.

Once you get the basics, there's a ton for the kids to do with just those materials; if it really takes off, then you can look for additional funding to get LEDs and breadboards, or some HATs to play around with physical computing. The Resources section of the Raspberry Pi website has tons of great project ideas that are kid-friendly, many of which only require the Pi.
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Forris
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:30 am

olsonk wrote:
LPrince wrote:If, and it's a huge if, I can get the finance to buy some Raspberry Pis, what would I actually need to buy? I've seen them available on Amazon at £28 for a basic model, but I've also seen a starter kit £50, which includes a memory card, some wires, etc. Would that be sufficient, and I could just plug a regular keyboard in? Sorry for all the questions, I know practically nothing about these, but am really keen to get the children learning to program.
Any keyboard and mouse that's USB will work fine. I'm looking into obtaining Pis for school as well, and the starter packs are very tempting. I'd say if you can find a starter pack with just the Pi, USB power, and memory card (preferably a NOOBS card), that's the easiest way to get up and running. The alternative option is to buy just Pis, scrounge up a bunch of USB chargers, and buy a bunch of SD cards separately and manually flash them with NOOBS.

Once you get the basics, there's a ton for the kids to do with just those materials; if it really takes off, then you can look for additional funding to get LEDs and breadboards, or some HATs to play around with physical computing. The Resources section of the Raspberry Pi website has tons of great project ideas that are kid-friendly, many of which only require the Pi.
Good luck setting up a Pi club! I have to point out, though, that you've forgotten what is potentially the most expensive part of the setup - the monitor. How you set up also depends on whether you have a permanent space available, or whether it has to be packed away after use.

Do you have access to laptops? If so, you can use a direct Cat5 cable between laptop and Pi to access the Pi remotely. This negates the need for a separate k/b, mouse & monitor. If you have space for something more permanent, I managed to get hold of 6 monitors (with DVI connectors, which makes things really simple) from a local company that was upgrading it's computers.

Having done a bit of research on prices, I feel that the 'kits' are good value. The main issue with the kits, from my view, is the case. Many of the cases are 'closed', meaning you'd need a GPIO ribbon cable and something like a Pi Cobbler to breakout to a breadboard, instead of connecting straight to the Pi.

LPrince
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:17 pm

Sadly, I'm having trouble even getting agreement to use a space for this club, let alone get funding... and I had overlooked monitors... I'll keep working at it!

dtanderson
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:35 am

LPrince wrote:Sadly, I'm having trouble even getting agreement to use a space for this club, let alone get funding... and I had overlooked monitors... I'll keep working at it!
I have seen the success in Wales (https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/succes ... libraries/) of teaching from a public library and have been thinking of doing something similar here in Dorset. I think you could try contacting your local Chamber of Trade, Residents Association or tech industries in your neighbourhood to see if they would be willing to sponsor you.

Apart from the cost of equipment (especially monitors) you need to think of where to hold the club, safely store the equipment, and have a small team of supporters that can help out/take over during holidays, etc.

I would be interested to hear how you progress. I haven't talked to anyone yet, apart from a librarian at my local branch. I think it will be something like a "ball of snow" - it should grow with time (hopefully!).

Forris
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Re: Anyone got any advice on running a Code Club?

Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:21 pm

hastklass wrote:You are spot on - Scratch works much better on a Win PC. The USP of the Pi for a Primary school is GPIO but stay clear of breadboard and jumper wires - far too difficult for primary school children. I run clubs for this age range using the gPiO interface. Brilliant for control and physical computing projects.
No need to buy expensive components - works with cheap, off the self ones.
Have a look at their website (http://www.gpio.co.uk) - they publish teaching resources and project ideas.
Good luck
Hastklass
Really!!!

I think this was covered by Jack's post a little earlier: 'Most of all, do not, at any time, underestimate ability. The easiest way to be proven wrong is to say "you can't do that".'

The kids at my son's primary school Digital Leaders club range from age 7 - 11, and I've found that they have no problems at all with breadboards and jumper wires. I'd much rather teach them this way than use a bunch of pre-built modules that they just connect together without knowing the reasons why. Actually, one of my questions to the teacher when I started helping out at school was ' How much information do I give them? ' . I was told not to hold back in terms of information or terminology, kids of that age just soak it up!

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