Coding, Education, Raspberry Pi

Upcoming Events – Including a special big announcement!

We have an exciting couple of months coming up with a host of Coding Evenings in February and March, but first, I’m pleased to be able to announce that we have been invited to Pi-Top HQ in Bethnal Green for a Coding Evening. The lovely Pi-Top guys have very kindly offered to provide food and drink for attendees and an opportunity for people to have a play with both the Pi-Top and the Pi-Top CEED as well as the usual Coding Evening fun.

To sign up for the Pi-Top special event, click here.

Not only that, but Coding Evening will soon be heading to Jersey when the lovely Jason hosts his first event sometime before Easter (keep your eyes peeled for a date announcement soon).

The lovely guys at Hack Horsham hosted their first event last month and it was a huge success so we look forward to hearing about them hosting a second event soon. Thanks again for hosting guys!

I was recently at BETT and managed to spread the good word about Coding Evening both on the amazing beach stand for Exa Education and at the massive Teach Meet in main arena in the evening – check out the pictures at the end of this post! I also used my Scratch Pi-Stop sheet to deliver a workshop for the Raspberry Pi Foundation while at BETT which was great fun!

So, here are all of the upcoming events – hopefully you can head over to one of them!!

Pi-Top Special Event Thursday 25th February

Southend Coding Evening Thursday 10th March

Peterborough Coding Evening Tuesday 15th March

West Berks Coding Evening Thursday 17th March

Twickenham Coding Evening Wednesday 23rd March





A Series of Extraordinary Events

It’s been a busy time for me as 2015 has drawn to a close and 2016 has begun.

So, the year kicks off properly with BETT, the annual exhibition of technology in education. Last year, the week of BETT, I hosted the first Coding Evening for teachers in the Stokes and Moncreiff in Twickenham and what a year it has been – Twickenham has hosted seven events, Peterborough has hosted two, Southend has hosted an event and we’ve held one event at Mozilla in central London to bring everyone together. Over that time we have brought together teachers, professionals, hobbyists and lots of other lovely people to help promote and develop the best way to teach coding to teachers. We’ve been able to offer free drinks and free gifts thanks to generous sponsorship from Pimoroni, 4tronix, Fuze and PiTop and we’ve had lots and lots of fun! Let’s hope we can continue supporting and sharing in 2016.

So, on Friday 22nd January, I’ll be at BETT where I will be doing a beginners’ work shop in the STEAM village at 11.30am for Raspberry Pi (sign up here) – I plan on giving a really basic introduction to using a Raspberry Pi with Scratch and a PiStop so if you think this might interest you then pop along. Next, I will be doing a talk for Exa Education to spread the word about Coding Evenings and talk about our successes so far so if you fancy coming along to hear that, I will be on the Exa stand from 12.30pm. Finally, if you’re a teacher at BETT, it is well worth signing up for the giant TeachMeet in the evening – once again, I’ve signed up for a two minute micro talk to that I can tell all of the assemblied teachers about Coding Evening, but the nature of the event means that I may not get a chance to speak (fingers crossed).

On Saturday 23rd January, I’ll be at BETT again, this time helping Ben Nuttall out with his special Raspberry Jam sharing the good news about using Raspberry Pi in schools. Come along if you can – there will also be a geek meet up after the event if you’re interested in joining us for pleasant conversation and nice food.

I’ll also be at Egham Jam tomorrow and the Cotswolds Jam at the end of the month so head over to either of these events if you want to say hi!

So, the next step in my plan for world domination will be to host workshops for parents to introduce ways to get their kids coding at home. For the parent workshops, I think I would need to charge to cover equipment costs, but I often get parents asking for advice to get started with coding and Pi so I think it would be a good opportunity to help and support a wider range of people with the basics of coding. Get in touch if you think Coding Evenings for Parents might be something you’d like to help or support, especially with buying equipment or helping to buy drinks for the Coding Evenings for Teachers as a motivation to get more tired and exhausted teachers to attend after a long day at school.

Hannah at Peterborough Coding Evening (who also helps run Peterborough Raspberry Jam), launched the Peterborough Coding Evening Facebook Page this week, which inspired me to create one for Twickenham too so sign up and like the pages to get regular updates of what happening!!

So, here are the details of all of the upcoming events:

Horsham Coding Evening organised by Hack Horsham – Wednesday 27th January

Twickenham Coding Evening first birthday (organised by me) – Thursday 28th January

Peterborough Coding Evening (organised by Hannah Mills) – no eventbrite yet, but on March 8th at The Brewery Tap pub in Peterborough

West Berks Coding Evening (organised by Stephen Manson – currently a paid for event, but he is hoping to get funding to refund ticket costs) – Wednesday 17th March

Southend Coding Evening – TBC, previous event was at the Temporary Art Project in Southend

Hopefully we’ll see you at one of these events soon.




The Rise of an Empire – West Berks Coding Evening

We are pleased to announce the launch of Coding Evening West Berkshire.

The lovely Stephen Manson is persuading his employers to sponsor this event. Even so he has been able to book the local cricket club to host his first coding evening on 17th March. We are very excited about out 5th location opening up and look forward to giving more and more of you the opportunity to try out coding ready for your classroom! Current price for tickets is £5 to cover the booking of the facilities.

Details of Stephen’s event can be found here:

And don’t forget we have both Twickenham and Horsham events coming up in January too!


Hack Horsham launch Coding Evening

The wonderful folks at HackHorsham are hosting Horsham’s first Coding Evening for Teachers. This is part of their plan to turn Horsham into a Digital Hub where they have thus far put on 30+ events for children and parents around the STEAM arena (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics).
Here is the email that Marcus sent around to local teachers – hopefully some of you guys can head over to help them out!
Coding Evenings are an opportunity for teachers, Raspberry Pi enthusiasts and Code Club/Coder Dojo volunteers to come together to discuss the new computing curriculum in an informal and friendly environment, the pub!
This first session, hopefully of many, will be held at the Anchor Hotel Pub in Horsham on January 27th between 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
Do I need to be there for the whole 3 hours?
No!  This is an informal event, turn up and leave whenever you want.
I need people to help out at my school’s CodeClub
Then come along, we’ll have local tech enthusiasts who may well be able to volunteer their time to help you.
Will there be demos?
Yes, we will have local tech people plus companies/organisations such as STEM Sussex and CodeClub that we plan to bring down to demo stuff that you could use in your school.
Can I try stuff out?
This will be a very hands on session for those that want to try stuff out.
Can I ask questions?
Of course!
Where can I find more information?
Cat Lamin started this off in Twickenham and is a teacher herself.  Coding Evenings for Teachers are beginning to expand out to SouthEnd and PeterBorough, so Horsham is very much at the forefront of this effort.
Is this for Primary School Teachers? Secondary School?
All teachers, right up to college level.

Many thanks!


A Plea For Help

As many of you already know, for the last nine months I’ve been organising Coding Evenings in Twickenham to help support teachers who are not confident with the new curriculum to become more comfortable teaching children how to code.

There are new Coding Evening events being organised in Peterborough, Horsham and Southend on Sea. All of these events have at least one teacher and one fabulous community member involved, but I’m keen to see more of you wonderful, kind and enthusiastic people get involved and support teachers with their learning. My events wouldn’t exist without the wonderful contributions of time and help from people like Richard Hayler, Marc Grossman and Nic Hughes, who willingly spend their evenings guiding and supporting teachers and offering advice and ideas in a friendly and helpful manner and I am so keen that the other groups develop as much of a community feel as our Twickenham events have gained, especially the new events in Horsham and Southend.

The idea behind Coding Evenings are that they are informal events held somewhere like a pub or coffee shop after school where teachers can drop in for advice or to have the opportunity to play with resources and the whole concept relies on enthusiastic people like you being available to offer that advice and support. Coding evenings just wouldn’t exist without people volunteering and helping out and it’s only one evening every few months so it’s not exactly time consuming!!

Anyway, I hope that you are willing to get involved and help support less confident teachers with this subject! So please, if you can, get involved with your nearest CodingEvening and help as much as you can.

Thank you,


Twickenham Feedback

Here is some lovely feedback from one of our coding novices, Simona Tudoran:

Since attending Cat’s Coding Evening at Twickenham I have been absolutely buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm. I would like to take this opportunity and thank Cat so much for organising such an amazing event for people like me, new in the Computing teaching world(started this September…that kind of new). I have gained so much confidence that I have now organised a Code Week, complete with special guests, and I have to say Cat has been there offering support and giving me some wonderful tips and ideas along the way.

Thanks for letting me know how things are going and keep up the good work!


September in Twickenham

It’s been a couple of weeks now since we hosted our most recent Coding Evening in Twickenham and I’m still reeling from how amazing it was!

Firstly, our venue, The Stokes and Moncreiff in Twickenham, had been renovated courtesy of Coca Cola for the Rugby World Cup and so the room we usually use was brighter and more inviting than usual; the whole atmosphere of the pub felt more upbeat and welcoming!

Secondly, we were joined by PiTop, who not only had their recently finished PiTop laptop ready to show us, they brought along a sample of their newest product, a Raspberry Pi monitor and case which reminded me of an iMac for some reason. They also demo-ed a cool eighties-style RPG to learn command line, which was pretty fun and would appeal massively to children (quite a few of the adults were keen to give it a go too). We were pretty lucky to have a chance to have a play with both their products and are looking forward to seeing them at our Coding Evening Special at Mozilla this week!

Most excitingly, the generous pirates at Pimoroni offered to buy attendees their first drink, which meant that everyone could enjoy a relaxing beverage without breaking the bank – for some reason this seemed to appeal to a lot of the teachers in the room who were really happy to relax with a pint (of coke of course…honest). Thank you pirates, we are so, so grateful for all of your support!

The atmosphere in the room was best described as excitable, as we saw guests ranging from complete novices, to Python software gurus. We were pleased to welcome CAS Regional Coordinator for London, Jane Waite, three graduates from the recent Skycademy held at the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge along with a host of new attendees; September turned out to be our most successful evening yet and we’re excited about our upcoming special event in Mozilla now. Keep an eye out for some special announcements soon about this upcoming sell out events as well as some future events and more Coding Evenings around the country.



Special Guests at Coding Evenings

We are so lucky to get so many fantastic volunteers who give up their time to help out at Coding Evenings and the next few events are no different!

So on that note, we are pleased to announce the following special guests at forthcoming Coding Evenings:

At Peterborough Coding Evening on Tuesday 22nd September, organisers of CamJam and Raspberry Pi gurus Tim Richardson and Michael Horne along with co-author of Adventures in Minecraft, David Whale.

At Twickenham Coding Evening on Thursday 24th September, Python and Pygame guru, Tim Golden, Active Lit creator Alex Warren and arduino expert Ben Dornan along with regular guests and ever willing all star volunteers Richard Hayler, Nic Hughes and Marc Grossman.

At our special event at Mozilla for Code Week EU, we are excited to welcome both Fuze and PiTop with demos of their hardware for using Raspberry Pi in the classroom, as well as Code Club London Coordinator Dan Elwick.

We’re really excited that so many people are willing to give up their free time to help support us all with the teaching of coding in the UK and hope to see lots of you there!