EU Code Week is a grass-roots movement that celebrates creating with code, and Europe’s premier digital literacy event. It aims to make programming more visible, to show people of all ages how you bring ideas to life with code, demystify the process and bring motivated people together to learn. The initiative was launched in 2013 by the Young Advisors for the Digital Agenda Europe, but everyone is welcome to organise their own code event and add it to the codeweek.eu map.
The UK kick-off event hosted nearly 200 primary school children and their teachers. The event was packed with talks, interactive sessions and hands-on workshops supported by Google Europe, LEGO Education, Discovery Education, OhBot Robot, Crumble, Roamer, Redfern Electronics, Primo Toys, Mama Codes, Institute of Imagination, Micro: bit Foundation, Dare Collaborative, ICT in Practice, UCL IOE, UCL Computer Science.
Camden Council leader, Georgia Gould and Chris Shaw, Founder of Shaw Corporation and BASE KX opened the UK kick-off event, encouraging children attending the event to become ambassadors for coding and technology and stressing that coding is an essential skill for the 21st century. They were followed by two fascinating keynotes; by Jane Butler, Vice-Dean for Enterprise at UCL Engineering who shared her story of how she became an engineer and also being part of the team who designed the computer; and Dominic Wyse, Professor of Early Childhood and Primary Education at UCL IOE, who talked about the relationship between writing, music and coding.
Pupils were encouraged to learn and share with others through an explorative, collaborative and playful process that will also challenge and stretch them to improve their technical understanding and problem-solving skills. From dancing robots, to unplugged coding activities, the kick-off event had it all, filling UCL’s BASE KX in Camden with joy and laughter. After lunch we connected via Skype chat with the Payas STEM Centre who have been working tirelessly to support and teach Syrian refugee children and children from disadvantaged backgrounds about coding and technology. We let the children in our UK event share what they had been doing for EU CodeWeek with the children in the Payas STEM Centre.
Jane Butler, FREng (Vice-Dean for Enterprise at UCL Engineering) is a long-term contributor to the development of the Internet. She said: “Computers and the Internet touch every part of our lives today, in education, in the workplace and at home. They drive many of the industries, innovations and institutions that support the growth and wellbeing of our country and our world now and in the future. It is our responsibility to ensure the next generation are capable and comfortable in using these tools to support their futures and the futures of generations to come.”
Elpida Makrygianni (UCL Centre for Engineering Education) led the kick-off event as the EU STEAM Coalition Lead and EU CodeWeek Ambassador for the UK, she said: “We are delighted to be the host of the EU Code Week UK kick-off event in partnership with UCL IOE. Learning how to code is an essential skill irrespective of whether you choose computer science as a career path or not. It enables creativity, equips with critical thinking skills essential in all domains and builds confidence. It was heartening to see so many children learning how to code for the first time, their reactions when producing such brilliant work with support from our wonderful mentors, many children surprising themselves at what they were able to achieve.”
Yasemin Allsop (Senior Lecturer, UCL IOE) and EU CodeWeek Ambassador said: “We celebrated the 5th anniversary of Codeweek EU at UCL Base KX in Camden with our friends from UCL Engineering, amazing workshop organisers and lovely children & teachers from schools across the UK. I hope that this event inspired them to create with code and helped them to understand the world around them. I was very happy to be a part of this exciting grass-roots community and look forwards to celebrating learning to code with our friends around Europe in the coming years”
For more information about EU Codeweek, see the website: http://codeweek.eu/
For more information about UCL Engineering’s engagement with young people, see: http://www.engineering.ucl.ac.uk/schools-engagement/