Isle of Man News - POSTED Thu 23-03-2017

Exciting times at the Isle of Man Code Club

by LC

Over the last 3 years, a dedicated group of technology enthusiasts have been meeting every Saturday and running classes, activities and sessions. Their aim has been to educate, assist and inspire others to understand, control and leverage the technology that surrounds them.

“We started with the idea of teaching people to Code”, says Owen Cutajar, the group’s founder, “but Code Club quickly grew to encompass robotics, 3D printing, radio, Virtual Reality and a host of other subjects. There is a common thread behind everything we do although, and that’s science and technology. All our volunteers are passionate about these subjects and just want to share what they know to provide opportunities to others.”

Creating opportunities is very much a core belief around which Code Club was created. According to the US Department of Commerce, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs have grown three times as fast as other jobs in the last 10 years. Code Club is an environment where people can learn new skills, experience new technologies and share what they know with others with similar interests.

Some of the skills Code Club has been teaching since they started meeting 3 years ago have been in computer programming. Among other activities they have been running beginner classes using a language called Scratch, more advanced classes in Python, building web pages in HTML and CSS and even have a .Net special interest group. All these sessions have been delivered by volunteers at no charge to the participants and have proven to be extremely popular.

“We’re very proud to say that we’ve had almost 600 students for our coding classes over the last 3 years”, Owen tells us. “Our most popular class has been Scratch, which is a great way of introducing kids to coding, letting them create their own games and building applications for others to use.”

And it’s on this high note that Code Club will be looking to change what it does and how it operates. “We’ve been very effective meeting every Saturday afternoon, first in Douglas and now in Ballasalla, but we’re only reaching a very select segment and would like to spread our activities wider around the Island”, Owen shared with us. “We’d like to organise events and classes on different days, explore other subjects, and target older students. We’ll be finishing off this batch of classes at the end of March and announcing new classes soon. We’re currently planning a Foundation Radio course in Ramsey, Building Projects with Arduino in Douglas and looking at options for a Unity course.”

As part of their expansion, Code Club are also putting together a Makerspace in Douglas, which would give them a permanent base for different activities through the week. This space will combine teaching spaces, workshop, lab and 3D printing facilities, as well as project areas for existing projects Code Club has underway, like their drone building project, Internet of Things projects and lots more.

“All this would never have been possible without the support and energy of our volunteers, who generously donate their time, skills and resources to inspiring others. We’re also grateful to those who have sponsored us, organisations like MICTA and Celton Manx who help make what we do possible.” Owen concluded. “But we’re always looking for new volunteers, sponsors and people who want to help, so if anyone wants to contribute, get in touch with me at owen@codeclub.im."

More information about Code Club can be found on their website: http://codeclub.im.

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