I had an opportunity to talk about Code Club with a roomful of technology-savvy librarians today. It was fascinating to simulate the coding program we run in public libraries, but with grownups.
We went to through a live simulation of a functioning Code Club, watching the videos, solving puzzles, and signing off progress.
I gave a short history of Code Club at the event, and since I get asked a lot about how we got started, I figured it would make sense to share the story here. But since this is the internet, I decided the best medium to tell the story is an animated GIF.
Each step along the way was important for us, and filled with learning as we gradually changed our goal from a few kids to dozens to hundreds, and to thousands. Eventually, we decided that every kid in the world should have an opportunity to learn computer programming.
- Founding. In August 2013, I walked into the library and asked if I could start a computer programming club for kids. The team at the Mesa Public Library (the same place I spent hours as a kid) were more than supportive, offering to reserve the 15-chair computer training room for two hours each week. We quickly filled up.
- Demand. For the next six months, kids kept coming to Code Club. We were very quickly at overcapacity with the repeat visitors and the friends they invited. But two 8-year-olds sharing a computer can be tricky, given the short attention spans.
- Fundraising. In the spring of 2014, we ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and with the money (play this game to find out exactly how much) we were able to buy a cart of Chromebooks. We expanded to 50 kids each week, with a cumulative total of several hundred kids.
- Scaling up. The press coverage from the fundraising, along with good old-fashioned word of mouth led to inquiries from libraries around the Phoenix area. Pretty soon, we had trained facilitators and shared resources that led to ten Code Clubs, reaching thousands of kids.
- Automation. We quickly learned that there are not enough people out there with the skills, interests and time availability to build a Code Club. But there are a lot of people who are “game,” especially at public libraries. Our current efforts are focused on reaching many more kids (hundreds of thousands? millions?) by providing these people the tools they need to run a Code Club, even if they have no prior experience with computer programming. So we built the Code Club web application, an internet platform that guides kids and teens through the process of learning to code.
Hopefully our story is helpful to you in your efforts to change lives by introducing kids and teens to coding. Have you started your story yet? Please share!