Monthly Archives: December 2012

CodeClub and becoming a STEM Ambassador

CodeClub is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after-school coding clubs, and its mission is to give every child in the UK the chance to learn to code. When CodeClub started earlier this year, I registered my interest as a volunteer.

I didn’t have any particular school in mind, but in any case, in order to have the chance to run a coding club, I needed to get a CRB check, and CodeClub’s getting-started page directed me towards the STEM Ambassadors Programme where a lot of support for, and financing of the CRB check process was available.

I duly attended the STEM induction session at Manchester’s Museum Of Science & Industry (MOSI).┬áMOSI are the STEM network account holders for Greater Manchester and there’s a great team there. Since my induction, resulting in me and the other attendees becoming STEM Ambassadors, I’ve become more involved with STEM activities, recently helping schools and teachers learn about the Raspberry Pi and form course ideas around it.

There was a recent evening event held at Manchester University where teachers from schools all around the North West gathered with Manchester University staff, MOSI/STEM folks and STEM Ambassadors to help each other learn about the Pi, and also about the PiFace – a shield with easy to use screw-terminal based physical interfaces for connections to and from the real world (Internet Of Things here we come!), invented by the University’s own Dr Andrew Robinson. We covered Scratch- and Python-based programming with the PiFace. Great fun.

Based on connections I made at that evening event, I followed up with the Raspberry Pi theme to visit a couple of Sixth Form Colleges in Manchester: Xaverian, and Pendleton (part of Salford City College). I took a Pi with me, along with lots of cables, and a serial terminal (yes, that one). I also took a few slides that I put together to explore loop constructs in different languages, and finally a suitcase full of career memories. I wrote my visits up on the STEMnet site: Raspberry Pi and Manchester Colleges. There’s also a news article on Xaverian’s website about my visit: “A Taste Of Raspberry Pi!

I’m currently helping a Manchester school put together a Python programming course, based again around the Raspberry Pi. The whole STEM experience is rewarding and fun in equal measure. While I haven’t any spare time for a CodeClub club at the moment, I’m so glad I volunteered, as I probably wouldn’t have discovered STEM otherwise. I’m in contact with other CodeClub volunteers in Manchester – we’re having a meetup later this month, and haven’t ruled it out. But for now, there’s plenty to do as a STEM Ambassador. Thanks CodeClub!