by John Bradford in Bristol, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 31st December 2018 we successfully raised £725 with 22 supporters in 28 days

Community tech clubs for kids in the Bristol & Bath region need your help to sustain & grow.

by John Bradford in Bristol, England, United Kingdom

DigiLocal is supporting communities to run tech clubs for their young people. We are asking for your support to help this continue and grow.

1543613567_digilocal-2.jpgTechnology is a core part of young people’s lives, and future livelihoods. However, many don’t have access to high quality educational support to understand how it works, how they can take control of it, and ultimately how they might earn a living from technology.

Our clubs use project based learning, we’re not teaching kids to code; we’re helping them to fly rocket ships, navigate mazes, build role-playing-games, write cryptography applications, build robots, and more! They do this using Scratch and Python, on laptops or Raspberry Pi’s.

We know it works

1543613650_conceptual-gain.pngWe collaborated with the School of Physics, University of Bristol and their industrial projects team. An amazing group of four undergraduates worked with 5 clubs to develop some new project guides. As part of this they evaluated the learning of the young people. Even with the youngest groups (8-10yrs old) they were finding substantial gains in conceptual understanding about really complicated things like Newtonian physics and terminal velocity!

We also know that our young people don’t stop when they leave our clubs. At least half-a-dozen have told us that they are now running the coding club at their school!

1543613730_BAFTA-stage.pngOur young people also succeed at national competitions. Anish was a Finalist in the BAFTA Young Games Designer - Game Concept (10-14 yrs) and went to the London awards ceremony in July this year.

The challenge

The challenges are three-fold; 

a) while many will have a smartphone, they don’t have access to equipment that they can use to explore coding in a safe environment;

b) they don’t have structured & fun projects that introduce concepts of problem solving, creative thinking, and coding;

c) they don’t have anyone that can mentor their learning when they get stuck or begin to develop their own project ideas.

1543614078_Celebration-2018-2.pngDigiLocal tackles these directly by providing access to laptops, by provides curated portfolios of project guides, and by managing a network of community Ambassadors that work with the young people in each club.

How we do this

1543614036_together.jpgDigiLocal works closely with communities to identify a local champion and host, often within an existing youth club or group. All our clubs are in community venues, so they are close to where the young people are. All our clubs are free to attend.

DigiLocal manages packs of laptops that move between community venues. Each pack is with a different club each night of the week (except Sundays). With 15 clubs in 13 communities, some days we have 3 or 4 clubs taking place in parallel!

DigiLocal curates project guides on the laptops. Most of our clubs are registered with CodeClub and use their guides. We are also developing our own project guides in partnership with industry and Universities. The guides are banded by colour depending on their complexity (White, Yellow, Blue). We award usb wristbands to young people that attend regularly and complete all the projects in a colour group. This is great motivation for the young people!

1543613772_mentoring.pngDigiLocal also manages a network of around 40 volunteer Ambassadors. These are professionals, usually from the local community, who give their time to support the young people. All volunteers are DBS checked for safeguarding children and we help coordinate this with STEM Learning. We also maintain a register of our volunteers and their DBS status.

Why we need your help

We don’t receive any local authority or public funding. 

DigiLocal was designed to be very cash-efficient and launched as a project within a small non-profit (High Tech Bristol and Bath CIC) as part of our support for local tech and communities. For the first couple of years (June 2015 launch) it ran largely as an evening activity ‘on-the-side’. 

It has now grown to the point that it need ‘proper’ support.

Your support will help to:

- Pay a part-time driver to move packs of equipment around

- Pay community hire costs (some venues can give us space for free, but we also want to support those community venues that need to charge)

- Keep the equipment maintained, e.g. power cable £15, laptop battery £25

We have fantastic community engagement, wonderful young people, and amazing ambassadors. 

1543613380_links-cropped.pngWith your support we can keep those clubs going and grow to give even more young people the educational start with technology that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Thank you

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