Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.”
Hi, my name is Erin and I have been working at Neueda for nearly a year now. When I heard about the Neueda initiative ‘Code Club’ – teaching coding to local primary school children across the school calendar year – I couldn’t wait to jump right in. At university, I took a course on teaching computing to primary school children and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put those skills into practice.
Code Club was a special project created by Brendan Monaghan (CEO) and his wife Paula in 2015. They wanted to ensure that not only was Neueda taking root in Belfast, but also giving back to the surrounding communities and nurturing young talent. What better way than getting software developers of the future involved with coding and tasks that we carry out every day?
We have been extremely busy in the office, but we are so thankful to our staff members for giving up their time during the week to visit St Malachy’s and Blythefield Primary School to deliver Code Club to P6 and P7 classes. We visit each Monday and Wednesday, developing friendships with the students and their teachers. The excitement they bring with them is unbelievable and makes our job much easier and incredibly rewarding!
The first few weeks were spent working on the fundamentals of coding with a website called RapidRouter. This provided the perfect foundation for the rest of the year, as the difficulty increased each week.
Software Developers are of course needed in any IT industry, but we wanted to show students that although you may not have a natural flare for coding, there are so many opportunities available. That is when we introduced the element of design. A member of our design team spent five weeks with the pupils, taking them through user stories and activity diagrams. They even got the chance to design an app for Belfast Zoo as an example project.
Using these building blocks, basic coding and design, we stepped it up and got them to build their own website from scratch. They were able to practice their typing technique, design and learn about HTML and CSS for the first time. It was a new challenge for all the children, but they never gave up and were awarded with fantastic individual websites about themselves.
Finally, our Lego robots and in-house Lego expert made an appearance for the last term of Code Club. The students were given the opportunity to build custom robots that could be controlled by a remote or programs they were able to code. They could attach sensors that allowed them to detect colour. We put tape on the tables and tried to get the robots to follow the line and thankfully none of them fell off the table!
However, my favourite part of Code Club had nothing to do with IT at all. It was seeing the competitiveness of all the pupils during the final 15 minutes of every lesson. To test their progress, we either organised a Hot Seat or, for the more difficult lessons, Kahoot. Hot Seat required the class to be split in two and a word would display behind a pupil’s head. Their team then had to try and help them guess the word. Kahoot, a game-based tech learning platform, was also great fun and towards the Christmas and Easter holidays we focused on learning purely through fun.
The children of Blythefield and St Malachy’s threw themselves at everything we showed them and worked extremely hard all year. We were delighted to be able to celebrate their success with them this year at Digital DNA 2019 where they took part in a special Neueda Code Club Graduation and were awarded with certificates and lunch from Neueda.
We will be sad to see these schoolchildren move onto their new classes or new schools entirely. But we wish them all the best in their future and hope to see a few of them as Neueda employees, or taking on the tech sector, in the years ahead.