Matthew Gatland

Coding clubs in New Zealand

January 16, 2015

Before we started Code Club Auckland, I visited some other weekly coding clubs to learn how they did things.

Here are my notes from those visits.

I only wrote down what I felt would be useful for me, so this isn’t meant to be an accurate view of how these groups work – it’s just a list of ideas to try and lessons learned.

Coder Dojo Porirua

New arrivals go through the program. (The club signed up as an organisation, so they can reset their members’ passwords when they forget them. This happens a lot and is a good job for a parent helper.) - some of the non-digital activites are good but others are not. “Try it out, if it doesn’t make sense to you it won’t make sense to the kids.”

After kids finish they move onto JavaScript.

Just started using Code Combat (JavaScript).

They no longer use Scrach.

They have special activities like putting a computer together from parts. They’ll call a few kids out to the back of the room to do the activity, then swap them back into the normal class.

Arduinos - kids love hardware. You can buy lots of great cheap gear from Ali Express.

But always try a project yourself before trying it on kids!

Parents must attend.

Some parents help out in non-technical roles, like handing sign-in at the door. Some non-technical parents have learned enough from attending that they have become technical mentors.

Having parents present can cause problems too. Sometimes, parents become frustrated or embarrassed by their child not progressing fast enough. They end up ‘helping’ too much, giving their child the answers or taking over entirely.

You don’t want to tell off the parents or give them a lecture, but you can help by sitting next to the child and mentoring them for a while, by asking leading questions and getting them to think rather than giving them the answers – parents will hopefully pick up on the teaching style and use it after you move on.

Code Club Christchurch at Orion Health

I misplaced my notes from this trip, so this section will be a bit light!

Free to attend.

Intermediate students: 5 PM to 6 PM. They use the course material provided by Code Club World.

High-school students: 6 PM TO 8 PM, with free dinner provided. Arduino-based course. It’s very engaging for the students, but also expensive to buy and challenging to run.

They force high school students to work in pairs.

They run a meetup for mentors called ‘Code Pub’.

I can’t remember if it was Code Club or Coder Dojo, but someone said they had a mix of provided computers and Bring Your Own Device. The room layout meant that BYOD students had to sit at the back of the room, which created an unfortunate kind of class system where the wealthier kids all sat together at the back on their laptops.

Wellington Makerspace coding club

I could only stay for a few minutes, so I didn’t get too much info.

Uses these tools:

Tried kid-directed sessions but “they can be very silly.”

The students work on their own projects. Victoria gets them to describe what they’re doing to her or the other students – expressing themselves and thinking critically.

Attendees pay a per-term fee.

Set up as a trust or incorporated society.

Consider not letting them use the internet.

“We keep an exercise book in which we record all kids and volunteers who attend and what we did. If parents are not staying we make sure that we have their number. We also do a basic health and safety/what will we do in an earthquake/where is the toilet at the beginning of each session.”


Also lost my notes from this meeting, so this is just what I can remember:

Decode is lead by a high school student.

At the time, Decode ran a weeknight session for students from Kristen School, and a Saturday session that was open to students from other schools as well.

There’s no fixed curriculum. Students come in and work on what interests them - with some guidance if they need it.

They’re putting together some tutorials on their website for people to do.

Auckand Libraries Game-Making Hangouts

Auckland Libraries hosts weekly hangouts where children come and make games using Gamefroot and Sploder. They use library computers.

You have to book online to reserve a computer. People can also BYOD.