We had our first coding club for 4th-8th graders a couple weeks ago, and I’m glad to say it was a success. Here are a few things that helped it go smoothly:
- Because my coding experience is limited and my workplace encourages cross-departmental collaboration, I co-planned it with a librarian from adult services who has more of an IT background.
- At the beginning of the program, I told the participants that it was coding club, not coding class, and that they were encouraged to contribute and teach others.
- We had a plan for what we would demonstrate, but had plenty of flexibility within this plan depending on our attendees’ interests.
While we were demonstrating a game created with Scratch, a 5th grader asked if he could show a game he had made. I was apprehensive for a moment because his behavior while in the library is frequently disruptive, but he calmly and capably stood in front of the room and demonstrated the game he had made, described how he had built it, and showed how it could be modified.
It was awesome. After so many interactions in the library where we had to remind him about his behavior, I saw this boy absolutely shine. This is what makes it worth stepping out of our comfort zone. To some extent the programs we do are not about coding, or robotics, or basket-weaving. It’s about us connecting with the community, and giving community members of all ages a chance to learn something new and share what they know.