Working in IT I have a keen interest in all things computer related including the various languages that programs can be written in. I remember spending time on a VTech computer playing with BASIC and being amazed at typing:
10 print “Hello”
And then seeing the LCD screen display the word Hello. Later I would cause silly loops (20 GOTO 10) and start to look at logic (IF, ELSE). Coding fascinated me, sadly not as much as video games, but it fascinated me. Over the years I would dip back into various coding languages – Java, Javascipt, Visual Basic, Python, even dabbling in web languages (HTML and CSS) and the language of databases (SQL). At work I get to utilise Powershell and batch files to automate tasks, but all the while I do yearn to learn more coding.
Enter my son.
A few years back my beautiful wife and I welcomed into the world our amazing son. Over the years he has shown an interest in the world of computing (alongside many other things). We’ve nurtured that interest; he has his own computer log-on (with password) at home, gets (monitored) computer time to visit websites and we have visited several educational computer/science events. During this time we’ve also spent time investigating/playing with Scratch.
Scratch is a free program created back in 2007 and it helps introduce people (kids and adults alike!) to the concepts behind computer coding. It’s great and I urge anyone interested to give it a visit at https://scratch.mit.edu/ . So with my son keenly interested in learning more Scratch/coding and starting to complete some of the exercises available at https://www.codeclub.org.uk/projects I decided to see if I could take our joint enjoyment of computing to the next level.
In April 2017 I approached my son’s school about running an after school code club. I was a little scared about sitting down with the school Head Teacher and explaining my ideas – what if my proposals came across as silly? or if I started waffling technobabble? However, I had no need to worry – the Head Teacher liked the idea, agreed to the club and decided it should start running in the Summer term. If its a success it can then be continued in the new academic year. I came out of the meeting beaming. Then it hit me – I’d just agreed to run an after school code club. Eek.
Thankfully I’m not alone on this endeavor. A teacher at the school has agreed to run the club with me and last week we had our initial meeting over how to run the club, how the children learn, what computing resources are available etc. It took a weight off my shoulders knowing that I will not be going into this alone.
Next week sees the first evening of the school’s code club. As the children interact with Scratch and I nervously answer their questions I will be remembering back to a younger me sat with a VTech wondering if the infinite loop of “Hello” would ever stop scrolling across the screen.