Code Club Aotearoa Blog

News, updates and dancing robots

13 Sep 2021

How Code Club Aotearoa is supporting kiwi kids across the country in learning from home during alert levels 3 and 4

Over the last month, Code Clubs across the country have been unable to continue with in-person sessions. We know how important it is for tamariki to continue their journey with digital technologies and we are pleased to offer our support to parents, teachers, club leaders and volunteers during this time of transition to the virtual classroom!

Last March, when Aotearoa first went into lockdown, Code Club Aotearoa developed a toolkit for volunteers, club leaders and parents to use as clubs and schools could no longer meet in person. For many, it was the first time using video conferencing and coincidentally provided us with an opportunity to highlight a core value of our mahi; the importance of digital technology and how it shapes the future of education and work.

Encouraging and supporting our educators

During the lockdown, both schools and Code Clubs adopted new approaches and shifted online to enable learners to continue to develop digital skills. Aware of the pressure on teachers, Siobhan O'Connor, who helped design the toolkit, lent some of her time to support these virtual sessions and encouraged club leaders to do the same:

"I wanted to show our teachers, leaders and volunteers
how easy it is to conduct a Code Club session from home—
that children would still get as much out of it
as they would in an in-person session.
It was also the perfect opportunity for parents
to see what their kids get up to at Code Club
and how important it is that they’re engaging creatively;
the children are not just passive users of their devices."

Supporting those without devices and access to the internet

Unfortunately, the number one barrier to online learning is a lack of access to the internet or devices at home. It is estimated more than 100,000 students (around 80,000 NZ households) don't have access to reliable internet or devices. Key learning from last year is that if we are to raise the digital capabilities of all New Zealanders, everyone must have access to these resources at any given time, not just during a nationwide lockdown.

Since moving into alert level 4 on August 18, we have updated our toolkit to include more offline projects and unplugged activities.

"We believe that offline resources are just as powerful
as the familiar online tools when it comes to developing
children's computational thinking. Both CS Unplugged & CS Unplugged
at-home activities are super engaging and easy to understand
for both teachers and parents alike. We’ve also included
our very own Sustainable Development Goals challenge,
designed by our team last year for TechWeek 2020."

Fostering a fun but safe learning environment

We realise many parents have concerns about their children being safe online. We encourage open communication between leaders and parents and discussions about boundaries with students.

That is why we have included a breakdown on how to run safe online sessions for club leaders and a guide for parents. We also recommend taking a look at for more information.

Go for it!

If Code Club Aotearoa has inspired you to move your club online, we have plenty of info and resources in our toolkit to support you. Please take a look at our Learning From Home During Covid-19 page.

If you’re a club leader or parent and online sessions aren’t feasible right now, please take a look at our guide to remote learning for other ways to keep children engaged at home.

20 May 2021

Matariki Moonhack!

Code Club Aotearoa are super excited about our invitation to participate in Moonhack, a free international event bringing kids from across the world together for a week of coding! This year, we have written our own project, all about Matariki!

Matariki is a special time of year in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is the name given to a cluster of stars that rise in midwinter, signaling the beginning of a new year. Every Iwi has its own stories associated with Matariki, and their own way of celebrating.

In our project, which is available in both te reo Māori and English, you can add your own stories to each star in the Matariki cluster.

What are some of the stories about Matariki where you are from?

The different stars we can see and when we see them is dependent on where we are in Aotearoa (or even the world!).

Maybe you can see 9 stars, or perhaps only 7. Perhaps your local Iwi celebrate the rising of another star, Puanga, instead!

Last year, 34,000 participants registered for Moonhack. Can we beat it this year? Register yourself, your class, or your code club at

Use our project to get started, then add the stories of your whānau to complete the project.

Special thanks to Nicola Curnow and the team at Code Club Australia

Share your completed projects with us on Facebook or Twitter!

29 June 2020

National Volunteer Week | Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu

Last week marked National Volunteers’ Week in Aotearoa, and we are celebrating the hundreds of volunteers across the country who give their time each week to help inspire the next generation to code.

Kusal Ekanayake | Haeata Community Code Club | Christchurch

Say hello to one of our invaluable volunteers Kusal, who has been volunteering with Code Club for 3 years. Kusal is based in Christchurch and works as a software engineer for Verizon Connect. He began his journey with Code Club in 2016 as a Code Club student and considers this experience to be the reason he chose to pursue programming through higher education.

"Growing up, I always had a vague interest in programming,
I loved computers and technology and was fortunate enough to
have access to heaps of resources that exposed me to different forms of it.
I then had the opportunity to take part in a code club in the final year of high
school which exposed me to the code club format
and gave me a good foundation to go into university
and pursue a degree in software engineering"

Kusal talks about the many reasons behind his decision to volunteer, saying the positive impact on the children he works with is always a driving force:

"Volunteering with Code Club has always been a fulfilling experience.
Those days during study or work where it feels like I'm not
getting much done, Code Club was there to help pick me up.
Helping the future generation of programmers learn is always a fantastic feeling…Having [the kids] show me projects that they have worked on
during their free time is always awesome to see"

As one of our longest standing volunteers, we asked Kusal what motivates him to stick around and show up for the children every week, despite having a jam packed schedule with University and now full-time work as a software engineer at Verizon.

"It's one way I can give back… Especially since I have benefited
from the time of volunteers who helped up-skill me when I was in school,
it feels as if I am helping to keep that cycle going.
I can only hope that some of the children who get a taste for coding
in Code Club go on to be great programmers and maybe even one day,
volunteer for a Code Club themselves"

Despite the potential challenge of balancing work and volunteering, Kusal finds Code Club sessions to be a source of respite from his busy life:

"“While studying, it was a great way to take a break from all
the course work and the flexibility of being
a student was great to fit Code Club into my schedule.
Verizon Connect have supported the initiative to the point
where we are able to use time during business hours
to leave the office for and help local clubs during their school times…
Code Club has always been something I've enjoyed
so I was always willing to make time for it"

Out of all the experiences he has had with Code Club over the past three years, we asked Kusal if there was a moment that stuck out as his favourite...

"I was volunteering at Ilam Primary school at an after school Code Club.
It was the first Code Club of the year and there were heaps of new faces…
At the end of the session one girl came up to me and the other volunteers
and said that before that session, she had no idea what programming was.
After her first taste of scratch, she really, really enjoyed it!
That made me realise we might have just introduced the idea
of programming to a lot of these children for the first time,
and that if we could make their first exposure to programming a good one,
they would be more likely to pick it up and take it with them into their future"

Kusal was also given the opportunity to share his story through Volunteering New Zealand’s video series, launched to celebrate volunteer week (21-27 June). Kusal shares his story below and encourages anyone considering volunteering to get involved. For more information and resources for National Volunteer Week visit

Thank you to Sarah MacDonald and the team at Volunteering New Zealand

23 June 2020

Volunteering during a pandemic

The experience of volunteering at Code Club during a nationwide lockdown

Over the last couple of months, hundreds of thousands of Kiwi kids were engaged in learning from home because schools and clubs were closed. A number of leaders and volunteers jumped at the chance to continue with sessions by moving their clubs online. We talked to volunteer Mark Dunlop from Saint Martins School Code Club about his experience.

Mark Dunlop | Saint Martins School Code Club | Christchurch

Q. How long have you been involved with code club and what inspired you to become a Volunteer?

I've been involved for at least 5 years, since my co-conspirator Craig Fisher and I started talking about giving something back to our local school. We both work in IT so it didn't take long before Code Club came up. I was inspired by the opportunity to expand the horizons of kids who otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity. If you can take down the wall before it gets in the way then you're making a real contribution towards resolving society's challenges with diversity and equity.

"If you can take down the wall before it gets in the way
then you're making a real contribution towards resolving
society's challenges with diversity and equity"

Q. How was the transition from working with the kids in a classroom setting to hosting sessions online?

Surprisingly easy. My kids are no longer at the local school but I still keep in touch with our primary teaching contact and was aware that nothing had been put in place during lock down. To help me get underway with an unfamiliar setup, Michael came along to the first session, but I needn't have worried. The kids were engaged and respectful of the volunteers and each other. We had up to 16 on a call but they all knew how best to take their turn and were quite prepared to remind each other of the etiquette.

Q. What did you enjoy about most about hosting the session via video communication?

It had the best of both worlds from group and individual teaching. At times it was like a masterclass where I worked with one student to help them solve a problem while the others looked on. At other times I quietly worked in the background until I understood a more challenging issue a student was facing. But best of all was the periodic demonstrations when a student finished an exercise. Their pride was beautifully reinforced by the admiration of their classmates.

Q. Can you tell us about the project the kids were working on during this period?

The kids were at different levels so we had up to three projects on the go. The Python ISS API (my favourite), the Scratch boat race and the Scratch Flappy parrot. It worked well as I frequently checked to see if any help was needed or anyone was ready to demo. At times I had to "volunteer" kids to demo as some of them were looking for perfection.

Q. What kind of impact do youth think learning in an online setting has had on the children at your club?

In many ways it was more focused and asked more of them. Being alone without the distraction certainly helped with the focus, while the challenges of working through a problem remotely meant they tried harder to resolve their issues first. I also felt they were closer together where it counted. being able to see each other's faces got them out of their usual groups and being involved every time I stepped in shared insights they would have otherwise missed. I really didn't see a downside with this group.

Q. What advice do you have for other leaders wanting to engage their students in an online club session?

Get started. It isn't scary. Be prepared to let the kids tell you what to do - with conferencing and sometimes even coding. They're confident in this environment and that confidence spreads to other areas. I would also regularly check in during a session - even check in with kids by name if they've been quiet. Don't assume that silence means all is going well. And definitely volunteer people to present. Not all are comfortable putting their hand up but when you make it clear that it doesn't need to be perfect then the stress falls away. Finally, be generous with your praise. Focus on the good stuff and offer a learning opportunity if you see one.

"Get started. It isn't scary. Be prepared to let the kids tell you
what to do - with conferencing and sometimes even coding.
They're confident in this environment and that confidence spreads to other areas"

15 April 2020

Moving your Code Club online

How to smoothly transition to hosting an online Code Club

You’re a Code Club Aotearoa leader and you would like to continue hosting your club during the nationwide lockdown but you’re not sure how. We talked to teacher and leader, Sarah Kerkhofs, about her experience moving her West Rolleston school based club online and asked for her advice on how to overcome some of the obstacles involved when settling in to a virtual learning space.

As a host, what are the benefits of moving online?

Being online has meant that we can join with another code club and facilitator, and coders can log on from home. It means our coders can share their work with a wider audience too. Although we are fortunate to have some amazing volunteers, being online may mean that more people may be able to volunteer.

What are the challenges of hosting an online club?

Finding a rapport with someone new to the group is really tricky. I knew all of my coders face to face before we went online which meant that I knew what they liked and how they liked to work. Working online that takes a little bit longer.

How do you motivate learners in an online setting?

I think the beauty of Code Club is that it's really easy to choose a theme that you like for your projects- whether that is fast food or Harry Potter. The scope for having choice and control is awesome, and isn't always possible in a regular writing or reading lesson. The other key aspect is that we always have sharing time at the end, where everyone plays everyone else's games. This gives the coders a purpose and a deadline! I think once they have had one sharing session the peer feedback and comments are also really motivating.

What are the benefits for parents?

Sometimes what we do at Code Club is a bit of a mystery, and they don't always see the point or learning involved. Having the learners at home means that parents can see what their coder and the rest of the club is creating. I also think it works around transport and other issues as well.

What are your best tips for teaching an online code club session?

  • Try a session with a colleague, a couple of kids or your partner first if you're not feeling confident.
  • Expect tech issues and be patient! Once the coders have logged in a couple of times then they will be fine, not even a professional orchestra sounds great the first couple of times they play a piece! It is also a good idea to ask the parents to stay close and help with set up for the first session, but tell them they won't need to help with the coding aspect!
  • If you are working on the Scratch projects having a scratch educator account is really handy. It means that you can find the coder's projects easily and they can share them with others in the group.
  • Think about how you will ensure everyone is safe, including yourself! We like to check in with a parent at the start of the session, just so we know they are there, and also ask our parents and coders to sign an agreement. Our meetings are recorded in the cloud too should we ever need to protect ourselves.

25 March 2020

We’re moving online!

Support with digital learning during Covid-19

Code Club Aotearora have decided that the best step we can take to remain productive during this quickly evolving situation is to recommend all clubs move their sessions online. We are pleased to be able to offer support to teachers, leaders and volunteers during this time of transition to the virtual classroom.

As you know, Code Club Aotearoa is supported by an amazing network of volunteers and teachers who we believe possess the skills necessary to deliver content via a virtual classroom. We feel it’s crucial to continue to support our students in their learning and moving the lessons to an online platform allows us to demonstrate the importance of digital technology and how it will shape the future of education and work. We want to show initiative and model to others how education can be just as effective when done remotely.

We have outlined the recommended steps for leaders and teachers to move their clubs online below:

  • As the leader, decide on the online video tool you will use to deliver the club sessions. You need to consider that some children may not have an email address and for this reason we recommend Zoom. Users (students) don't require an account to join the video call and it's free for sessions lasting up to 40 minutes. (If you go over the allotted time, students are able to rejoin by clicking the invite link again.) All you need to do is sign up, confirm your email address from your inbox and create an account. You will be asked to invite your colleagues, but feel free to skip this step. Select ‘schedule a meeting’ from the top right, fill out the form and press save. The last step is to copy and paste the link to the meeting. See screenshots below for reference to all of the above.

    Please note club session days and times do not need to change

  • As a club leader log into your Code Club account here.
  • Click on the name of the club you lead.
  • Click the sessions tab, then manage, followed by edit
  • Scroll down to find the Info (Free text field displayed in advert) text box.
  • Add your previously copied ‘join URL’ from your zoom (or video tool of your choice) account to the text box with a friendly message and this will appear on your public Code Club page, which parents can access. The link for your public Code Club page is available in the club details section next to short code. You will need to go back to your dashboard, select your club, right click the hyperlink symbol, copy this link and include it in your email out to your club community.
  • Your public Code Club profile on the Find a Club page will look like this:

    Now children will be able to join the club session remotely! The day and time should remain the same unless you need to change it, which you can do from your dashboard. If you’re good to go just log in to your zoom account, select meeting from the side bar and click 'start' next to the meeting for that day.

  • Moving online removes the barriers around access to devices within physical clubs. Please consider opening your club up to accepting new students, from both within your school and the wider community. Many teachers and parents will be looking for engaging online content, this is a great opportunity to use the power of the web for good!
  • Communicate with your club. We've got some sample text you can copy here. You can use the send email tab from the club's profile in your dashboard. Select all the check boxes so everyone associated with your club is aware. If parents never registered their children to your club via the website, now is a good time to ask them to do this.

Recommended steps for parents:

If you don't hear from the leader of your child's club, please contact them by navigating to the Find a Club page, locating your club and using the contact club pop up.

Support is available from Code Club Aotearoa staff.

If you would like support in any form please email us. If you'd like to chat through things over the phone please ask for our number in your first email and we'll be happy to arrange a call.

We know there will be a few wrinkles to iron out getting your club online as many students have never participated in remote learning before. Be patient but be assured that you are taking the best step to maintain the safety of your students while continuing to support their learning. Also know you are leading the way, this will not be a permanent change but it is a great chance to model to schools and parents the viability of online learning. Thank you for working with us on this.

19 May 2018

A celebration of the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa with girls, women and of the girls, women, and other marginalised gender (omg) coders. We asked our nine She Can Code superstars about being a coder, and they had some amazing things to say.

Amelia Lockley
Catherine Fromont
Charlie A Ablett
Kelly Cheesman
Grace Fox
Jevon Wright
Amy Harman
Kelsey Scheurich

Laura Bell

AMELIA LOCKLEY | WhatNow Kidtuber | Auckland

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

I discovered coding around 4 years ago when I was in a STEM school holiday program called The Mind Lab. At the holiday programme I really enjoyed the coding and robotics area and wanted to do some more. I'm very fortunate that my dad works in IT and knew where to go. He found me a coding club at a place called Orion Health which was part of Code Club Aotearoa, and I decided that I would go and have a try. After the first time I never wanted to stop. I loved it!

We need to encourage more girls into STEM and coding. Parents and teachers should encourage and expose their girls and young women to STEM related subjects otherwise the gap between boys and girls in the industry will keep on growing. If you are a girl be involved and be brave and take that first small step of joining a club. I know you will enjoy coding as much as I do.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

Last year, with the help of the club’s volunteer mentors, I made a web application to help immigrants settle in New Zealand. It is not 100% finished yet but I endeavour to complete it. Coding has taken me to so many places and given me amazing opportunities that I am thankful for. I went to Parliament during Techweek last year and gave a speech and helped teach MPs how to code. I have met so many awesome people, including Dr Michelle Dickinson aka Nanogirl who is my biggest role model. Having a role model is very important to inspire me on my journey and I believe this applies to everyone. I’m also proud to be one of the WhatNow Kidtubers! As a kidtuber I make videos to do with STEM, and that are aimed at teaching younger kids.

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

In the future I want be a Mechatronic Engineer and work somewhere like NASA or Rocket Lab. This is my dream goal because I find space and technology so interesting and fascinating. Just think – by using technology we can explore space in so many new ways. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Peter Beck, the founder of Rocket Lab. His belief in what he wanted to do since a young age, becoming a rocket scientist, despite people not taking him seriously is inspirational.

"Every child should have
the opportunity to learn to code"

I truly believe that every child should have access to technology. Having access to technology becomes a basic need just like having access to electricity and running water, especially as we are living in a digital world now. Every child should also have the opportunity to learn to code at school, just as they learn how to count or write. We use STEM and coding in our everyday lives already, and technology will only become more advanced and used in a wider range of things. When my generation grows up there will be so many more jobs and opportunities that technology has created.

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CATHERINE FROMONT | Web Development Intern | Cambridge, Waikato

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

For secondary school, I went to Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. We had no classes for IT or programming because it had never been recognized as a popular potential career pathway for girls. So I actually had never been interested or been exposed to programming until after high school. I moved to Wellington straight out for school to study a Bachelor of Law at Victoria University, but soon realized that it wasn't for me. I moved home, and soon after was offered a web editing position at Waikato Regional Council where I was introduced to coding. I grew a passion for it straight away, and decided in the short three months that I wanted to study.

I went on to complete a Diploma of Web Development and Design where I passed all my assignments with A's, A-'s and A+'s (which surprised me so much, I was always mediocre at most things during school), then an eighteen week intensive Web Development Boot Camp with Enspiral Dev Academy. Now, I am working at a start-up company in Cambridge called Nyriad as a Web Development Intern. My biggest struggle during this whole process is the fact that in the tech Industry being a woman is still reasonably rare – but it is becoming more and more common, which is amazing!

My advice to girls and women who are wanting to join the tech Industry is to not let the typical stereotype that "coding isn't for girls" stop you! I work in an company where the majority of employees are male, and yes it can be intimidating, but be confident and believe that you belong in this industry. They NEED us! Technology is the way the world is going, and it is where we need to be. Acquiring these skills is so important and valuable to any job you go into.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

Well, my biggest achievement so far is a Web Application called Mārama that a team of myself and five others created as part of a final project at Enspiral Dev Academy. When we presented it at our graduation to potential employers and family and friends we were given so many positive accolades that we decided we wanted to pursue it further.

"Be confident and believe
that you belong in this industry"

Mārama is a centralized information platform for study and funding opportunities available in Aotearoa targeted specifically towards Māori and Pasifika students. It aims to reduce obstacles students face when accessing grants, scholarships, and financial support information online. Our database pairs unique courses with all applicable grant information – finding help is easier. Mārama’s first focus is tech-based fields of study, as Māori and Pasifika perspectives are specifically underrepresented in the growing technology sector.

Our aim for Mārama is to inform and empower students to seek broader study and employment pathways, and to make available financial assistance more transparent. The outcome being more graduates moving into fields where their voices matter most, and where they can help build world-leading technology. We are currently still in the development phase but we are also in the process of applying for funding, creating a kick-starter for our app and hopefully grow from there.

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I have huge dreams for my career! Currently, my focus is gaining experience in a NZ start-up company in order to expand my knowledge and work experience. But in the future I am looking teach myself a few more programming languages and hopefully head to Melbourne to become a Junior Web Developer, and then to work my way up from there. Ultimately, even further down the line I would love to be able to work remotely and travel at the same time. Catherine codes predominantly in Fullstack JavaScript (ReactJS for Client-Side and NodeJS for Server-Side), but has experience with PHP, C++, SQL, HTML and CSS.

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CHARLIE A ABLETT | Senior Developer/Systems Architect | Motueka

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

When I was a kid I'd dabbled a bit with our 8086 family computer, modifying existing games in MS-DOS and seeing the results. My dad encouraged this – he didn't get it but he supported what I was doing. When I was a teenager in the mid 90s, I taught myself HTML and some CGI, and later took the opportunity to become a GeoCities community leader.

When I went to university I had no idea about "real" programming, and I struggled a lot with my sense of belonging as the pedagogy of the first two years did not suit me. Once, however, I started putting things into context and learning shifted from tools and techniques to solving actual problems, I went from Cs to As overnight. Despite laughing off the suggestion of grad school from a professor ("Are you kidding me? Grad school's for smart people," I remember saying), I ended up getting a Masters in Computer Science and then doing a robotics research internship in Japan.

Part of the penny dropping for me was that the feeling of I don't know what I'm doing (which everybody experiences) is reinforced by a lot of very subtle wording and actions by many people in this industry. In my third year at uni, I read the book Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing and it validated what I felt. I learned so much about how words that seem harmless but can be damaging to a community's most vulnerable members (e.g. "Oh, you didn't know that? You just have to...").

"I can encourage others to open up about
their own vulnerabilities, and we can thrive together"

Knowing I wasn't alone in feeling in over my head allowed me to embrace my vulnerability as part of a learning process. I was learning and recognising where gaps in my knowledge and experience were, and that allowed me to put it in perspective: I don't have to know everything. I try my best to fill in gaps where I encounter them, recognise my own worth, and not be afraid of new things. I can encourage others to open up about their own vulnerabilities, and we can thrive together.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

I wrote Romanesco, a tree-based engine that recursively evaluate maths expressions. I wrote it for a client's project 3 years ago, open-sourced it, and it's been in production since. It's a challenging piece of code – it uses metaprogramming, recursion and a deterministic finite state machine.

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I avoid "rock star" talk since I'm not interested in the limelight. I'm interested in quietly solving interesting, complex and difficult problems – for tangible social impact! I'm also interested in helping people identify behaviours that can harm and help people to thrive, be vulnerable with each other and learn from each other. Charlie codes in Ruby, Javascript, Java, C/C++, C#/VB, Python and uses the pronouns: They/them.

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KELLY CHEESMAN | Front End Developer & UI Designer | Wellington

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

First of all, if you want to get into coding try to understand why. Is it because everyone is saying you should? I wanted to code because I saw it as a way to help me design the things I had in my head. From a young age I wanted to be a video artist and there weren't tools that did what I wanted. So I thought, well if these tools don't exist I need to hack around and make something work. For me, coding was a creative thing. When I was young and making websites time would fly by and I loved the feeling that I was able to think up something, make it happen, and put it online.

I never saw the separation between code and creativity. At high school I was into design and art, and at home I would play computer games and play around with designing my own worlds. I always felt limited by what was offered by existing software and had to get creative with how I made the things I had in my head. At university this led me to want to learn to code so that I could have more control and ability to design. I wanted to build tools for designers.

I learned about creative coding and this was my path in to get really interested in generative design and audio reactive visuals. On the side, from a young age, thirteen perhaps, I was making websites and I felt like my brain worked in just the right way to take an idea and code up the structure of a page. I considered myself to be self taught in terms of code; I played around until things broke then I worked backward to figure out why. For me, learning was about making and experimenting. My advice would be to find something you are passionate about and use that as a project for your leaning. Build something real!

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

I collaborate a lot with other people. I've done projects with people who are fantastic programmers and I work with them to do the more visual side of things. One thing that has stuck with me is this feeling that I’ll never know enough and never be an expert. Technology is always changing and it is very hard to decide what area to focus on. I'm learning that some people will want to focus on a particular language and become an expert in that area, and it took me a long time to realise it’s okay for me to sit in a multidisciplinary space where my area of expertise is not in a language but in pulling together the vision of the project across a team of engineers and designers. I make all the parts fit together.

"I never saw the separation
between code and creativity"

One of my most fun projects was almost 8 years. It was pre-iPad, and a friend had this fancy new touch screen interface. We worked together to design and build an interface that I could take into a club and use it as a controller to make live audio responsive videos. This was a fun project because we got to play with videos, code, controllers, and had to learn to pitch our idea to a club owner, design posters, arrange DJs to play, and learn how to promote events. I discovered a passion for live performance and event creation, and have been doing similar experimental video work for festivals and clubs in Wellington ever since. Note, I do this all as a side venture while working for a software development company!

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

Professionally I’m building user interfaces for a company and we are working on something right now that the User Experience industry will end up using. I'm inspired by knowing that we are working on something that will impact a lot of people. In my artist life I’m hoping to carve some time soon to work on some more interactive ideas working with projections and dancers perhaps.

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GRACE FOX | Junior Backend Developer | Wellington

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

I got into coding from attending a talk at Enspiral Dev Academy. It was a panel interview of IT professionals in Wellington. After the talk my mind was fizzing with the possibilities. Developers and coders are the inventors of our day.

My advice: coding is problem solving, it's a series of small steps. Take it one step at a time. Try not to measure yourself against other people.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What piece of code are you most proud of?

I work with legacy code, so making changes can sometimes have unintended impact (bugs!). My team often uses a Test Driven Development approach (write a test, then write the code) to make sure we aren't introducing bugs. I wrote a test that checks one of the most complicated scenarios of a transaction.

"Developers and coders
are the inventors of our day"

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I'm passionate about diversity and inclusivity in tech, and interested in using tech to balance inequality in society. I'm hoping to drive change on these issues from the inside. Grace codes in C#.

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JEVON WRIGHT | Founder/Senior Developer | Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington)

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

I got into coding when I was only twelve, with a tutorial book my dad had lying around, and his work computer that he had brought home from work. The book encouraged learning by doing, and I fell in love with being able to make computers do things, and to be able to show others what I could make. I made little games for my friends and later made my first websites (before I had the Internet).

At university I earned my Bachelors of Software Engineering, and a PhD in Computer Science, but it's always been my love for making things, learning things, and being creative that has kept me going. I definitely recommend learning by trying things, breaking things, and trying things out again; no matter how long you spend on a problem, or how many dead ends you hit, you're always learning and improving.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What piece of code are you most proud of?

I'm really proud of my current project, CryptFolio, which I've designed, coded and managed all by myself. It's all in Ruby on Rails and I'm super impressed with how well the site works and how clean the backend architecture is. The website started from a really simple prototype I put together in a weekend for myself, and while I continued tweaking it, I found out other people wanted to use it too. Now I'm trying to build it into a successful business.

"No matter how long you spend on a problem
you're always learning"

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I find it really interesting how hundreds of people can work together on software and generally remain productive, yet every code base feels different, and some are more enjoyable to work on than others. I want to learn more about how one can code in such a way that other people can get up to speed quickly, write awesome code too, and have fun while doing it This means I need to learn more about people, about management, and other "soft" (they're actually really hard!) skills. When I was working at Flux they were really, really awesome at helping me grow! Jevon's favourite languages are Ruby, Java, PHP, Javascript, Coffeescript and SASS/CSS.

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AMY HARMAN | Gameplay Programmer | Dunedin

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

We didn’t have any coding classes in high school and I didn’t even realise it was a thing until I had nearly finished a film degree. I read a book where the protagonist was coding and decided to try it for myself. I loved it and thought learning coding through making games sounded super awesome and decided to study it even though it meant another 3 years of being a student. My advice is to try tutorials online and see what interests you. There are so many different things you can learn about. It’s not easy, but stick at it and it will be rewarding. Also most cities in New Zealand have game dev meet-ups where you can meet others, share what you’re working on and see what others are working on.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

I am really inspired by the game The Sims because there are so many different objects in that game that the sim people can interact with. In the game we’re making, the player can place down different objects that characters can interact with, and I wanted to try copy The Sims system. They have a thing called “smart objects” which means the object tells the agent how to interact with it rather than the agent knowing how to interact with each of a bazillion objects. For example, a table tells an agent to play the animation to sit down in a chair and then play an animation to eat some food. This has worked for our project making it simpler to add new objects and have agents use them in the game. So far, so good!

"I would like to see and make more games
where there are interesting social interactions
between the player and the characters"

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I do artificial intelligence (AI) and gameplay programming, but I want to specialise in AI programming. My first piece of AI programming was doing A* pathfinding, and while I didn’t understand how it worked immediately, it was amazing seeing a path appear and twist around obstacles. At work, we’re hoping to release our game sometime this year, and after that I would like to work on a project that has more AI as well as continuing to watch talks, do tutorials and practice AI programming in my own time. There are so many games where the combat is awesome but I would like to see and make more games where there are interesting social interactions between the player and the characters. Amy codes in C# and C++.

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KELSEY SCHEURICH | Programmer | Dunedin

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

I had a bit of a roundabout entrance into game programming! I was first exposed to programming in high school, where two of my teachers noticed I had really enjoyed working with HTML, and after much persuasion convinced me to join the programming class where we made little games using Visual Basic.

I really enjoyed programming, but I enjoyed art more, so I did a computer graphics degree which was mostly design with a few programming classes thrown in. After I finished, I worked for a bit as an interactive designer before I realised that I really didn't enjoy art and design as a job; I just wanted to do purely programming. So I went back to university, did a software engineering degree, and now I make games!

Some advice I have is if you ever get stuck on a problem, break it down into the smallest pieces you can manage and do it one step at a time, even if it is as simple as "open my project." Also, everyone will always have an opinion on everything, so basically "ignore the haters" because they are not worth sacrificing yourself, your time, or your happiness.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

It’s not a "rad piece of code" per say, but one of my favourite projects was one I did for university. We were learning basic AI, Networking and DirectX 9, and our final assignments for each subject were combined into one super project. It was a 3D twin stick shooter game, which needed to have networked multiplayer capabilities, utilise a bunch of DirectX 9 graphics techniques, and to feature certain AI behaviours. It was absolute chaos, but it was a lot of fun and it was very satisfying to get to the end and go, "I made that!", especially when all my characters were cats with little kitty kibble shooters.

"If you ever get stuck on a problem,
break it down into the smallest pieces you can"

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I really love games, so one day I want to make the kind of game that I would also like to play. I would also like to do a technical talk at an international conference, as soon as I can think of something I want to talk about! Kelsey codes in mostly C++ & C#.

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LAURA BELL | Director of SafeStack Limited | Auckland

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

By accident! Seriously! I wanted to do languages and law when I was older but circumstances changed and I needed a job. I found that my skills in learning foreign languages helped me to learn to code. I took a junior development position aged 16 and took it from there.

My piece of advice for people starting out is to follow your passion and stay curious and flexible. My career path has been very wiggly and full of opportunities I would never have imagined. Be brave, say yes to new things (even if they are a little scary) and don't be afraid to fail. Failure is how we learn.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

In 2015 I published an open source security tool prototype called AVA. It gathered information about the people in an organisation in an attempt to identify who would be most vulnerable to social engineering attacks (people based security attacks like phishing). I presented this at Black Hat 2015 in Las Vegas and got to be in a few magazines. It was an exciting adventure. Avasecure has a link to the coverage in Wired Magazine and MIT Tech Review. You can also find the video of my talk here.

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I now work in software security. I try to make tools and approaches to help people keep data safe inside their software systems.

"Be brave, say yes to new things
...Failure is how we learn"

I would like to work on de-centralised communication and networking tools to allow us more data control as well as helping groups that aren't traditionally very technical, stay safe online. The Internet gives us some amazing tools and opportunities, I believe we all have the right to stay safe when we use them and want to work hard to make this happen.

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Proud to be a part of the Suffrage 125 national event programme.

1 March 2018

My Love of Coding

Miles Wilson tells Code Club about how he got into coding.

My friend James introduced me to coding when he came over to my house for a play and he showed me Scratch which is a drag and drop program. I got to know Scratch and made heaps of games which was really fun. After I made 50+ games on Scratch I started making tutorials on my YouTube channel.

I like coding because you can make your own unique games instead of playing other peoples games. You don’t just make games, you can do much more! You can code robots, rockets, computers and much more. So learning to code games is preparing for my future - I could be coding robots when I’m older!

I think it is important to learn how to code because this is the way of the future. I think that writing in books with a pen, and making toys with your hands will be a thing of the past.

Coding should be taught in all primary schools, intermediate, high schools and universities because coding will be a big thing in the future. It also is inter-curricular as there can be maths and reading involved when you’re coding. You also have to take risks in your learning as a lot of coding is trial and error.

I don't know how to code in a lot of computer languages but here are my favorite ones that I code in: Python, rbx.lua which is how to code a game on roblox and HTML.

I have a coding tutor that teaches me Python - and I love seeing my coding tutor!

My goal in my future is to code my first game that goes on the app store or Windows PS4 or other types of app stores. Another goal is to make a lot of money doing it and the most important goal having fun doing it. My number one rule in coding is to have fun.

26 February 2018

Why join Code Club?

Sarah Barnett asks Code Club Aotearoa founder Michael Trengrove the big question: Why join Code Club?

Sarah: Why is it important to teach children how to code?

Michael: Our children need to learn to code if they want to take their place in the digital world. I’m not talking about the future, but right now. Our children need to learn how the internet works, how data is sent from A to B, how to read and write to an API, and how to protect themselves online. If they have the basics of coding, they’re going to feel a whole lot more comfortable interacting and creating these tools. Also, coding is insanely fun!

Michael Trengrove talking to Steven Moe about Code Club on the Seeds Podcast

Sarah: Most children already have after school activities – swimming, soccer, dance. Why should parents choose Code Club? What about parents who say, ‘But my kid doesn’t want to be a coder’?

Michael: It’s not only about supporting the next generation of coders or tech entrepreneurs. All children need coding skills to become digital citizens. And let’s face it, the world is increasingly digital. That’s why we’ve seen digital technologies introduced into the New Zealand school curriculum, in year one. It’s an urgent matter.

We aren't expecting or wanting all of our students to become software developers. Some will, but just having a basic understanding of computer science massively broadens their perspective and worldview. We don’t expect all students to become molecular biologists, but we teach them the basics of science! Learning to code will open up a whole new creative world for a child.

"All children need coding skills
to become digital citizens."

Sarah: How about teachers. How does Code Club help them?

Michael: Digital technologies has been introduced into the New Zealand school curriculum. All schools must provide the curriculum by 2020. I see Code Club Aotearoa as one way we can support teachers. Running a Code Club in their school not only helps the students, but it’s a great way to up-skill teachers. We also hold teacher training courses to help teachers get up to speed. We love teachers. They’re amazing.

Sarah: What long-term benefits does Code Club provide to Aotearoa New Zealand?

Michael: Giving children the opportunity to code will have a long term positive impact on New Zealand. If we want New Zealand to become a knowledge based economy, a hub for innovative ideas and world changing solutions then we need to start now. And not just the children who come from families with computers, or go to schools with technology suites. Every child deserves the right to learn to code.

We truly believe that Code Club Aotearoa is a nation building project. Scientist Sir Paul Callaghan famously said that just one hundred inspired entrepreneurs could double our nation's GDP. Imagine how that would change the social and economic landscape of New Zealand. Code Club Aotearoa are currently training 4000 primary school students a week with the skills to turn their world changing ideas into reality. That’s the goal: We want New Zealand children to do more than imagine the future – we want them to be able to build it.

Image: Chocoloate Frog Ltd.

5 February 2018

Shout Out to Greytown Primary School Code Club

A big shout out to the Greytown Primary School Code Club who have been going for just under and year.

They ended last year with some kids creating a game based on Mario Run. Leader Julian says, “We got them starting from a blank piece of paper, identifying what to design, and then moved to coding. Really amazing for 9-11 year olds. It's about the exploration and seeing what they can do.”

They club is also supported by volunteer Bryan, who started coding in Fortran/Portran in 1962!

18 January 2018

Meet Our New Team Members

We have big news! Our team has two new members, Volunteer Coordinators Kate Allan and Sarah Barnett.

Kate is based in Christchurch and has a background in education management. Sarah is based in Wellington and has a background in teaching, writing, and tech.

Both Kate and Sarah are thrilled to be working with Code Club Aotearoa and can't wait to start connecting with our wonderful volunteers and the wider coding community in New Zealand. Drop them a line!


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