Code Club Aotearoa has, with Ngai Tahu, produced a first of its kind initiative to teach primary school students how to embrace Ngai Tahu’s cultural beliefs and language by creating a variety of coding projects incorporating te reo.
Code Club Aotearoa is a charity that partners with primary schools and uses the knowledge of a nationwide volunteer network to help children learn to code. The charity started as a single club in Aranui, Christchurch, and in 12 months has grown to more than 215 clubs operating nationally from Whangarei to Bluff.
In a report released this week NZTech has recommended faster implementation of computational thinking and computer programming into the curricula and teaching throughout New Zealand schools from a pupil’s first year.
Code Club Aotearoa co-founder Michael Trengrove says the club is now collaborating with 10 countries running initiatives with the same end goal, to offer every child the opportunity to learn to code and assist in the training of primary school teachers in the area of computer science and programming.
“We are seeing clusters of schools now wanting to join, so not just a single teacher who sees the need but a group of teachers with support from their school senior management are now coming to us and asking for teacher training to allow them to integrate the Code Club project ideas directly into their classroom activities.”
Code Club’s most recent project is working with Christchurch school Te Whanau Tahi with support and guidance from iwi leaders. The project aims to engage the students in computer science and programming through teaching using curriculum resources that specifically allow students to create and tell their own cultural experiences using code.
“The project involves two full day workshops for students followed by a term of Code Club sessions ending with teachers having the opportunity to attend further professional development at our Google sponsored event Computer Science for Primary Schools (CS4PS) in the July holidays.
“This is the first time an organisation such has Ngai Tahu has collaborated with us to meet specific requirements. Code Club has custom created learn to code projects that use local landmarks and historical figures and the characters (sprites) and backdrops have been created by Ngai Tahu for the students to incorporate into their projects.
“One of the first projects created to inspire students was the Ngai Tahu creations story, where students learn the basics of computer programming to create and control a computer animated scene that provides interactions at specific points in the story.
“With this project 20 Te Whanau Tahi students will learn skills that will see them creating the digital tools and software that others use to achieve their goals. This is a big shift in thinking for primary school aged children and often the first time they are thinking beyond just a one to one connection but about how their creation can scale and in what ways others will use their product - game – animation,” Trengrove says.
Code Club Aotearoa aims to roll the project out to seven more schools in the South Island that have a Ngai Tahu association starting with a school in Bluff in term three.