Design Club hangs out with Ada College CoderDojo

And testing a new mini project

Introducing Ada College and CoderDojo

  • Ada College is a new national college teaching digital skills. They’re based in Tottenham, north London.
  • CoderDojo is a global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people.

The Dojo

Ada College hosted a girls only CoderDojo last Saturday, from 1pm — 5pm. Design Club was invited, to offer some Design Thinking projects.

There were tables dotted around the room with Scratch, HTML, Python, and JavaScript projects available for the children to work on. We set up a Design Club table too.

Towards the end of the Dojo, at about 4:30, the children presented their creations. This bit is great, it happen at all Dojos. It provides the children with the opportunity to speak publicly, get positive feedback, feel proud of their work, and ultimately build their confidence.

How did it all go?

There was a bit of interest in Design Club, but not enough for anyone to work on a 2–3 hour project. I wasn’t surprised, considering people came to code. Some took project workbooks home with them. I also tested a new mini project. It worked really well. A few children sat down to do them.

Page 2 of the mini project

The new mini project

The mini project is essentially a very small project, condensing a Design Thinking process — Define > Empathise > Ideate >Prototype >Test — onto two sides of A4 paper. It’s kind of like a taster project.

7 year-old Carmin set herself a design challenge to help her mum write more neatly. The insight: mum writes too fast, meaning messy writing. The solution: a small motion sensor that attaches to a pen, detecting how fast mum moves the pen when she writes. If she moves the pencil slowly, points are pinged to her iPhone, reaping rewards.

A couple of 13 year-old girls took a break from Scratch to work on a mini project. I was talking with an organiser when they sat down, so my attention was split. These girls didn’t need any guidance at all, and both came up with well thought out projects in under 20 minutes. This was encouraging.

One girl designed an app building platform. The other invented an IOT solution for her friend, to help her keep track of precious possessions.

Working through the mini project

Future collaborations

I had a great chat with Johnny, one of the organisers of CoderDojo London. We’re hoping to get together and figure out how to further integrate Design Thinking activities into a future Dojo!

Thanks Ada College and CoderDojo for having me. It was great to hang out with you. See you again!