Over in Part 1 I went over how I signed up to host a code club; found a venue and bought and built some laptops..
In the thrilling 2nd Chapter of this story, I recall the harrowing experience of the first session, trying technical difficulties and where I want to see this going in the future.
So, I’ve signed up at Code Club NZ. I’ve got myself a venue. I’ve bought and built 10 laptops.
What do I need next?
I need some actual people to help me not get swamped by a group of 10 9-12 year olds. I also knew from having volunteered at the Spark code club in the city that all volunteers needed to be police vetted.
I didn’t have anyone else handy before my proposed launch date, so my brother Marcus, despite his busy schedule, said he’d help me start things off while I looked at getting more volunteers on board. Another round of police vetting, for the school this time (keep that in mind if you’re already a code club volunteer - there’s another vetting for joining another school).
I now have 2 volunteers, for 10 kids.
That’s 5 kids each, to answer questions and point them around the projects.
What could possibly go wrong aye?
The good, the bad, the first code club session
The first session went… as well as I could have expected.
I packed my 10 x Dell Latitude E6400 ATG laptops into boxes
and another small box with all the power cables
and loaded them into the car.
That was my first mistake. I had to lug those 2 boxes to the other side of the school from the carpark. And these things weren’t light. This is what they looked like:
These things were literally bomb proof!
After meeting my brother Marcus at the classroom, we quickly setup the laptops and started logging them in and connecting to the wifi.
So far so good.
The kids turn up early, we do a quick introduction and get them to put some name tags on so we could all learn each other names.
Itchy and Scratchy
The first part of the hour was getting them to each log into their pre-created Scratch logins.
It was around this time it all started going downhill a bit….
The wifi in this room was pretty weak, which meant the logins were timing out, pages weren’t loading and things were going really slow - or not going at all.
There’s 10 kids, only 2 of us, and now 8 of 10 kids were having internet or page-loading problems, and the other 2 had directly computer-related issues (DNS actually).
The slow wifi we couldn’t do anything about.
My brother would go around and just reassure the kids the page was loading, just that it was loading really slow.
Meanwhile I was the only person who could troubleshoot and fix the DNS issue - plus the fact it was on Linux meant I was also the only person there that could fix it.
Let’s just say that session was mostly me bouncing from one kids computer to the next with what seemed like an endless, continuous stream of fault-fixing
“basically my normal working day, amiright?! :)).. I’m here all week, try the veal!”
So by the end of that hour session I was quite relieved it was over.
But also a little disappointed in myself for not having everything figured out and vowing to come back better the following week.
Worth it?…worth it.
But it wasn’t until I had decompressed and debriefed with my brother from that session that I remembered the more positive things from the session.
I remember the look on the kids faces when things started to work and they were working on their programming projects. I remember the looks on the parents faces as they watched their kids enthusiastically bounding across the room towards a free computer to sit down and start coding.
It was only the first session, but I knew I was doing something good for the kids, for their parents and for the community.
Some lessons from starting…
I know it’s only been 5-6 months and we’re just getting started, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.
A few good people
Volunteers are haaaard to come by.
Lots of people mean well with their comments and messages, but being there every week, after work, for that one hour, is real commitment and I’m grateful for the couple volunteers I have who have committed to seeing this through with me (s/o to Maria and Mua. Go the women!)
The network is king
Thanks to that first session and the wifi bringing our session to its knees, it’s highly recommended (if your teaching resources are online) that you look into the network bandwidth you’ll be working with at your club’s venue.
It will save you that real-time stress.
…it has to be in your heart
This work is volunteer-driven.
It’s unpaid, and can be inconvenient especially after a full work day and you have other things to do.
The cause - the thing that made you want to do this, has to be in your heart, because you won’t find that commitment otherwise.
The reason has to be big enough, intrinsically. I’m not saying this is easy, or that once you find it it’s smooth sailing, because I’m no Mother Theresa by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.
The cause here for me, is seeing more Pacific Islanders in IT. And this is the start of working towards having an impact on that.
I’ve barely started, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this process already.
In tech, the future and its possibilities are limitless (or feels that way anyway), but for me, getting more Pasifika into I.T. or getting us more interested in Technology and careers in tech, is why I wanted to start doing this.
The future (heck, the present) is technology.
If we’re not part of the conversations about how that tech is built and what’s built into it, then we put ourselves at the mercy of those who are at that table, in those conversations, and building the rules of the future into the tech that will dictate and impact our lives.
The future is Pasifika in Technology; that future is up to those of us with the means, the knowledge, but more importantly the heart and commitment to circle the wagons and look at what we can do to help the cause; help the next generation.
So, I started a code club…
it’s not going to stay just a code club, but I’m going to see how far this can go.