Code Club Returns

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After a well deserved Summer break, Code Club is starting back up at Hull Central Library from Thursday 22nd September and I shall be volunteering to help assist with teaching children 9-11 years of age how to code.

Our existing “Code Clubbers” will move on to CSS/HTML and new starters will start by learning Scratch and going through a few projects together.

If you haven’t heard of Code Club by now then basically it is a opportunity for children to get together, with supervised guidance, to learn new skills. They will be learning Scratch, CSS/HTML, Python and I’ve also heard that the library have just invested in the BBC Micro:bit.

Why bring your children along?

Computers are used everywhere and there is no longer a need to be afraid of them. I would even go as far as to suggest that most people use a computer each day without realising it – When you turn on your washing machine and push a button, it is running a program and knows how much water to allow, how many cycles before it then drains the water, when to rinse and also when to keep beeping at you to tell you it has finished, usually just in the middle of your favourite TV episode.

More about the topics we teach

Scratch

Scratch is software created by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) aka VERY clever people. This software can be found on a Raspberry Pi (see http://raspberrypi.org/ for more information) as well as on the Scratch website (https://scratch.mit.edu/). This software allows children to create different objects and characters and alter their environment and behaviour. To make this simple, MIT have created jigsaw type blocks that click together so that you know they are compatible and these blocks are also colour coded. This teaches children the method for object oriented programming. This is the type of programming used for Java which can be found on some phone operating systems and in Blu-ray and DVD players.

CSS/HTML

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used to style an HTML document. You would title different areas in your HTML document and then on the CSS file you would state certain preferences. For instance, in the “title” section, you would want to use a larger size font and have the font a certain colour.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is typically the code used behind a website. A web developer would write certain code to create a website which could be used to show off video, animations and pictures as well as forms and text. When you open a web browser i.e. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox to name a few, and search your favourite website, it will show you a nice user friendly finish which has been created using HTML.

Python

Python is another programming language. This is being taught in Schools and even Universities. It can be used to create games and applications.

Python used with a Raspberry Pi can open up a lot of exciting adventures where you can create lots of different projects including a traffic light system with LEDs, creating a weather station, creating a music and video entertainment system and much much more.

BBC Micro:bit

These are the small computers that are currently being given out in Schools, they are also available to purchase from retailers now if you missed out on getting one from School and although prices change, I believe they are quite reasonably priced.

The Micro:bit has been created to allow children to design and create their own projects once again using code and also learning about hardware compatibility.

The Code Club community

We are trying to create as many Code Clubs as possible because technology will be a strong part of everyone’s future and definitely for the younger generation. We want to provide a place for them to come and explore their imaginations whilst learning some really cool stuff along the way and these are relevant skills that will help them in the future in terms of education and hobbies.

More Information
Our Code Club is currently on a Thursday evening between 6pm and 7:15pm at Hull Central Library. We do have limited places so please contact the Library on 01482 300300 to register your place.

We appreciate that sometimes children may have alternative after School activities on the same night so if you need to find an alternative Code Club, they can be found on the Code Club Website.

Hull Central Library has the following address: Albion St, Hull HU1 3TF

Or you can view the following map:
Hull Central Library Map

We look forward to seeing you soon

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Feeling Appreciated

So as a lot of you who know me know, I have been volunteering at a Code Club on a Thursday evening during term time teaching children 9-11 how to code.

We start with Scratch and then progress to CSS and Python and I’ve just heard that the library have invested in a few of the BBC Micro:bit computers.

I haven’t had chance to play with the Micro:bit yet but obviously this is my chance to learn something new along side the children and help support them in their understanding and knowledge of technology.

This makes volunteering both rewarding, exciting and educational. I do not want to sound like a sales person as sadly there is no affiliation program but helping others does have its own rewards as seen in the picture below.

If there are future Computer Science students out there who want to gain exposure then volunteering would be a brilliant idea and it also gets you involved in the community.

Appreciation email

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What is a Raspberry Pi?

https://www.raspberrypi.org/

Imagine you have a computer at home and on that computer you connect a mouse, a keyboard and a monitor to get a full setup.

This is exactly the same with the Raspberry Pi but instead of it being a large case to rest your feet on, it sits in the palm of your hand.

Typical home computers are build with an Operating Software installed such as Windows XP, Windows 7, 8 or Windows 10. This is licenced software which means that you have to pay for the use of it.

On the Raspberry Pi, your hard drive (where you store all your files) is a small memory card and the Operating Software you use is a development of Linux, which is classed as “open source” software.

Open source means that instead of hiding all the code that is used to create the user interface that you are met with when you turn on the pc, you are allowed access to it and they encourage that you change the code to suit your needs.

If you are new to computing then don’t be afraid of this idea as you can easily download a version of Linux for the Raspberry Pi without the need to worry about any code.

If the Raspberry Pi that you purchase does not come with a memory card with the software installed then you can download it for free from the Raspberry Pi foundation.

There are numerous distributions available to download for the Raspberry Pi but if you are starting off then its probably best to try Raspbian.

Once you have everything setup and the Pi is up and running with your Raspbian operating software you can have a play around and get yourself familiar with the feel of it. It will look different if you are used to using Windows but the concept is the same.

Raspbian also comes with Scratch pre-installed which is what the children learn in the first term at Code Club so it allows them to explore further.

If you wanted to get creative with the Raspberry Pi, you can also create games and numerous other projects by using code called Python.
Python is the most commonly used code for the Raspberry Pi and if you search the internet as well as YouTube, you will find many different tutorials.

You will notice that on the top of the Raspberry Pi you will have lots of pins running along the side. These are called GPIO (General Purpose In/Out) pins.

These are used for projects such as making an LED (Light Emitting Diode) flash on and off. You would wire up one side of the LED to one of the pins for example: pin 8 and the other end of it to the ground pin.

Then you will need to write a bit of Python code to state you wish for pin 8 to go HIGH and you can state how long for and then go LOW. This is basically telling it to turn on with the HIGH command and off with the LOW command.

**Please remember that the Raspberry Pi will give out more power than is needed for an LED so make sure that you connect a resistor to this setup so that you do not burn out your LED**

There are different types of LED which can handle different values of power but as a rough guide, you would provide enough protection for your LED if you were to use a 220ohm resistor. It does not matter if you connect the resistor before or after the LED as it will still have to run through the resistor so will still offer protection.

The Raspberry Pi also has a camera that you can attach to it for instance if you would like to create a CCTV network for home or a dash cam for the car.

Here are a few other projects that people are using the Raspberry Pi for:

• Home Automation – turning lights and circuits on and off in the house.
ALWAYS be careful with electricity.
• Light shows using LED strips.
• Building robots that have sensors that can move towards or away from
lights.
• Music media centre.
• Digital photo frame.

Trust me, the list is endless and is only limited by your imagination.

For even more details about the Raspberry Pi then visit https://www.raspberrypi.org/ and why not visit a Raspberry Jam, an event to learn new things about the Raspberry Pi.

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