Greerton’s grassroots programmers

Aleisha Sabin, Joshua Lee, 11, and Carolyne Taylor. Photo: Nikki South.

It’s fun, it’s practical and it’s educational.

“So it’ll stand you in good stead,” says Carolyne Taylor, who is Greerton Library’s learning centre tutor. “But even if it doesn’t, it’s a useful thing to do with your time on a computer.”

Carolyne’s pitching her Code Club, which has started up at Greerton Library. “It’s all these wonderful free resources to teach coding using this coding language called ‘Scratch’. And there are more than 30 projects.”

The aim of the club is to give every Kiwi kid the opportunity to learn to code – a buzz word for computer programming.

“It’s making little games and little interaction animations using a coding language called ‘Scratch’ – a programming language aimed at children.”

Code Club is helping New Zealand reach its digital potential – encouraging kids to combine their imaginations with an understanding of programming. It’s part of Code Club Aotearoa which, in turn, is part of a wider international movement. It’s worked overseas and it’s working here.

“The kids seem to love it,” says Carolyne. “The ones who’ve signed up, it’s hard getting them to leave again.” There’s are four weekly sessions of about 12 clubbers at each session.

And there’s a huge waiting list.

“You are learning all the coding structures that you would use later on if you continued to pursue a career in programming. And the kids are learning how to do it in a user friendly kind of way for children.”

The popularity of Code Clubs is enormous at the moment. “And I am not sure if it’s because of the public awareness of the opportunities afforded by getting into ICT,” says Carolyne. Because coding leads to all sorts of jobs for developers and people making apps. “Or it’s a parental awareness the schools haven’t quite met yet.”

There are some kids at the Greerton Library Code Club who’ve finished all the projects but keep going back to work on their own projects, doing their own thing in the Code Club environment.

The clubs are run with the help of volunteers. “They’re awesome,” says Carolyne. The volunteers on Wednesday are two students from Tauranga Boys’ College and one recent school-leaver from Tauranga Girls’ College. They give their time each week to help introduce primary school kids to coding.

“There’s also a Code Club at Tauranga Central Library,” says Carolyne. “And I understand that too is very busy.”