Code Champions is a new initiative supported by INTERFACE that’s offering after-school computer programming. After a successful first year, it’s looking for schools where it can host coding classes.
“We hold courses at schools but deal directly with parents,” said Greg Adams, Publisher of INTERFACE and founder of Code Champions. “It’s like the sports or language classes run independently after school.
“Our aim is to have a close relationship with the schools, not only complementing any coding work they’re already but also offering extra-curricular opportunities for students. Code Champions hires the facilities – room, interactive whiteboard/screen and Wi-Fi – and with the school’s assistance promotes the classes to the parent community. All contact is then between us and parents.
Code Champions began as an idea to promote coding and a parent-led trial in late 2016.
“I saw the need and the opportunity, so approached my daughter’s school and ran some casual coding sessions. The response from students and parents was fantastic – and, from there, Code Champions has evolved.”
Last year, courses were launched at two primary schools. These were very popular and showed how successful this approach could be. In 2018, Code Champions has expanded to host sessions at seven Auckland schools, as well as adding secondary students to our programme: St Heliers School; Kohimarama School; Saint Kentigern Boys’ School; Churchill Park School; Meadowbank School; Marist College; and Saint Kentigern College. More than 120 students are participating in Term 2. The focus will be on growing and developing in the Auckland area but interest is welcome from across New Zealand.
No single way to code
“Classes are small and grouped by age/ability. The sessions are one hour in length and a computer is provided for use during class time.
“As for our approach, computer coding is complex. From multiple languages to multiple uses, there is no single way to code … so we don’t believe there is any single way to teach it. Our aim is to introduce and expose students to some of the basic principles of programming. We don’t use any one language or program but draw on a number to illustrate and practise coding techniques – last term we used Unity and BeetleBlocks.
“Our tutors work to help kids understand the computational thinking and processes involved, and give them the knowledge and confidence to tackle and solve the coding challenges they face. We also encourage students to continue their exploration away from the class, whether working on things we’ve given them or their own coding project.”
Coding at Saint Kentigern College
In Term 1, Code Champions started classes at Saint Kentigern College. Using programming platform Unity, students have been learning basic programming techniques and computational thinking. The College has also recognised the course as an official ‘extension activity’ that’s added to a student’s academic achievement report.