Thu, Jan 26, 2023 7:30 AM

Code club key to holiday fun


Matt Brown

A holiday coding club is giving kids the programming know-how, from building websites to controlling robots.

The Marlborough District Library launched its free Fiero Code Club, designed to help young people learn to code.

And the popular club, which got underway late last year, is attracting fans both young and old.

While the club is aimed at youngsters, anyone with a library card can sign up and use the Fiero Code platform for free.

Community engagement coordinator Duncan Mackenzie says interest has been widespread.

“We know there are other people out there that don’t fall into the 8-18 age range. The oldest we have signed up is over 70.

“As long as you have a library card, you can sign up and take part.”

The club provides a fun and interactive environment for learning the basics of computer programming and coding.

The club is led by library staff who guide participants through a variety of coding projects, including building websites, creating games, and programming robots.

Participants also get the chance to work on coding projects independently and to collaborate with their peers.

Digital services coordinator Jen Steingraeber says library staff spent a lot of time doing due diligence on the platform.

“Library staff had a keen interest to get the code club going. Adults can sign up for the Fiero Code platform via the library.

“If we had enough interest, adults who wanted their own code club – we could do that as well.”

Library staff Jen Steingraeber and Duncan Mackenzie. Photo: Matt Brown.

Seven-year-old coder Evee Tapp has been a regular at the club since it started.

She says she has learnt a lot.

“You get a laptop and you can do challenges and missions and get gear; and you can see your friends.”

Duncan says Fiero Code is a platform made specifically for libraries and allows users to learn six major coding languages: HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, SQL and Coding Blocks.

He says its success lies in being student-led.

“They say it’s not like school – they choose what they want to learn. That’s why we’re doing it during the holidays – it’s not aligned with schools. It’s not anything to do with school.”

“It gives them a sense of authority – it empowers them – and it teaches them about helping others.

“We’re raising a bunch of good citizens. It’s a really powerful thing.”

Both Jen and Duncan are there learning alongside the young people.

Duncan says he hasn’t done much coding since he was about 14, when he was writing Fortran programmes on punch cards.

Now, his favourite coding language is HTML – one of the basic building blocks of almost every website.

“It’s [HTML] so much of so many websites. Inspecting websites and going, right – so that’s how they do that.”

He says the club members love learning how a computer works, instead of accepting it blindly.

“It’s like someone who has an interest in high performance cars having that lightning bolt of understand of how an internal combustion engine works.”

The Fiero Code Club meets once a week, on Thursdays from 3:30-4:30pm at the Marlborough District Library. The club is free to attend and registration is not required. For more information, visit the Marlborough District Library website.

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