NASA Space Apps Challenge success 2023!

Over 50 people registered for the Bristol event this year, forming 12 teams and tackling challenges from planning a 6 year party through to predicting geomagnetic storms. We also welcomed 3 ‘critical friends’ as judges bringing experience from aerospace, data, games design, systems, investing, and more.

A core part of what DigiLocal aims to provide for marginalised young people are the opportunities that many take for granted. Events like the NASA Space Apps Challenge would normally not be visible for those families. DigiLocal has been the Local Lead for Bristol since 2020, ensuring that our young people have access to these amazing opportunities.

Parents and volunteers were notified of the event in August when we were successful with our bid to be the 2023 Local Lead. This allowed people plenty of time to help prepare the young people.

How do you prepare for an event like the NASA Space Apps Challenge? Largely by attempting new projects that don’t follow one of our prepared guides. Setting a challenge objective to build a new game. The volunteers mentor the young people through the problem solving challenges they face, relating back to the known solutions from the guides and showing how they can be generalised to other challenges.

That resilience is vital when faced with a blank coding screen and only 40 hrs to complete a new project!

It’s also important to pace yourself. We made sure during the event that young people took breaks during the day, and we don’t run over night (though many did carry on working from home after dinner).

The event was kindly hosted by the University of the West of England in their fantastic co-working project hub ‘The Works’. This space provides a wide variety of pods, tables, desks, and general space for everyone to find their own area to work in. We also had plenty of catering options right outside to keep everyone fed and watered throughout.

In addition to the young people from our clubs, we also welcomed engineers, scientists, and developers from local companies and Universities.

Over the 2 days (7-8 Oct) everyone worked incredibly hard on their projects. Several teams pooled knowledge and helped out other teams along the way. We had some late entries and lots of fun!

The local awards from this year’s event were:

Global Nominee (Bristol) & Best use of Data

Stormy Skies (Bashitha)

Smart Analyzer is an application that can predict geomagnetic storms using raw DSCOVR data directly as input. It uses a deep learning to predict the planetary index after analyzing a provided DSCOVR raw record. Smart Analyzer classifies this predicted planetary index to determine whether a geomagnetic storm is going to occur and if so, it’s severity. Using the corresponding speed of the solar wind at the relevant point in time, it also calculates how long it’s going to take for the predicted geomagnetic storm to occur. The application unleashes the power of machine learning (the core of artificial intelligence) to help address a major modern challenge.

Smart analyzer is a .NET Core console application written in C# and it was created in Visual Studio 2022. ML.NET was used to create and train the machine learning regression model used by the software. The dataset that was used to train the model consists of raw DSCOVR data from the experimental data repository and the corresponding planetary index values that were obtained from the CDAWeb Data Explorer. The raw data and the planetary index values were merged to create the final dataset which consists of around 800000 rows. A one hour time shift was also performed on the two datasets before the merging to ensure that the values are correctly aligned. When a purely raw data record from DSCOVR and the solar wind speed at that point in time is provided, the application uses the deep learning model to predict a value for the planetary (Kp) index. It classifies the the Kp index according to the standards used by NOAA to state whether a geomagnetic storm is going to occur, and if so, whether it’s going to be minor, strong, severe or extreme. With the solar wind speed, it will calculate how long it’s going to take (in hours to one decimal) for the storm to occur.

This is an extremely successful but relatively simple approach to address this issue. An application/software component like this can be simply plugged into a NASA system on earth or a satellite to get real time predictions with real time data.

People’s Choice & Global Connection

Girls in Black (Primrose)

We want to create a free open sourced document available to all, so decided on a PDF Party Plan tool data base that can be downloaded direct from the HTTP:// website, making our party package accessible to everyone. The database would contain both educational, fun and engaging information and activities that should enabled anyone to prepare and host a party for a wide verity of end users, and educate them about elements of space covering asteroids, Psyche 16 and the spacecraft that has been sent there to investigate it in fun, imaginative and creative ways. 

Honorable Mentions

Best use of Science

Team Casini (Ece, Victor, John, Freya, Ibrahim, William)

An interactive website aimed at young and old to immerse them in the sounds of space, allowing users to collaborate and select different sounds to mashup and listen to space together. This project furthermore is designed with accessibility in mind, where it affords those with disability such as poor vision, to still partake in sharing the experience of enjoying the universe through sound. Finally, in future this algorithm could have the potential to be used in some form of early warning system, where fluctuations in audio can alert engineers and scientists to solar anomalies and the like, sooner than they can be observed by orthodox methods as seen in existing nuclear accident prevention systems.

Best use of Art and Technology

untextured (Sonny)

A game based on the fact that phytoplankton on the surface of the ocean photosynthesize, and create oxygen via sunlight and CO2. There are animal themed upgrades meant to symbolise the carbon dioxide and plankton themed upgrades to show the conversions.

Runners up

Local Impact

Eclipses (Imogen)

I have made a website that answers some questions about eclipses and then at the end, there is a quick scratch game I made. I used HTML to use videos, images, and formatting.

Best Mission Concept

Work In Progress (Thomas, Raymond)

We want to created an educational game that lets users to create their own exoplanet, allowing them to envision what life would be like (if any) on a world of there own making/design. Users play with the aim of making a planet that will sustain life for the longest time possible, but also to see how interesting this life on this new place could be. In total the game includes these feature: 1) create a planet of their choosing (this is done using sliders see miro board for app design) 2) create / import actual planet by matching the variables to current NASA data of said planets 3) compare the variables of the environment of their planet with current planets data provide by NASA and see if how their designed planet is likely to evolve over time. 

Best Storytelling

The Bubble Squad (Yashna)

Working on a scratch project, all about climate change and all about the global warming and to tell people to take care of our planet

ArchiEngies (Adriana, Anna-Tereza, Sophia, Nina, Diana)

The team comprised of Sophia(aged 8), Anna(aged 10) and Diana(aged 8) and two mums Adriana and Nina took the challenge of the VR application. The girls took a stab at GMAT and created the script for an elliptical trajectory around earth. VR connection from GMAT was not obvious so instead the girls explored with the existing features in the VR set.

Cosmic Codebreakers (Liam, John, George, Reece)

Unity game in first person showing an experience on the moon Titan, showing how it could look and allows you to explore and collect artifacts for scientific research. Solves the challenge by giving the player an experience of Titan and having to replenish oxygen to survive.

Unplaced teams

A number of teams joined the challenge but did not enter the Global Judging part of the weekend. This included Pierogi People, Future Space, and Teen Titans(+1) 

DigiLocal Announces Support from Tech Consultancy Grand Bridges 

DigiLocal has announced that specialist technology marcoms consultancy Grand Bridges is supporting the charity in its work to give marginalised young people the opportunity to discover and grow their digital talents.   

DigiLocal is a Bristol charity charged with supporting marginalised young people in developing their problem solving skills and building resilience through weekly, free, community-hosted coding clubs with volunteer mentors from industry. This provides those young people with opportunities they otherwise would not have access to, and industry with a diverse range of future employees.

We cannot thank you enough for the knowledge and experience that being part of Digilocal has given to Charlie ….  [He] is doing really well with his Computer Science GCSE and iMedia and is planning to stay on at school next year to do A-Levels in Computer Science, Maths and Physics, with the hope of a future in Software Development. He has had a couple of interviews at school and attended a few Apprenticeship open evenings and they have been so impressed by the coding and Python he has learned through being part of DigiLocal and the experiences such as the NASA Code Jam that you have offered him.

Gemma (Charlie’s mum)

Grand Bridges CEO, Simon Flatt states: “As a consultancy specialising in the electronics sector we understand the fundamental need to encourage people from all backgrounds to engage with and build a passion for technology. We are pleased to support the work that Digilocal does to ensure that nobody is prevented from having access to the tools and mentorship they need to achieve this.”  

In addition to the weekly clubs, DigiLocal has distributed over 2,000 laptops to disadvantaged young people. These have been donated by members of the general public and businesses local to Bristol. DigiLocal then repurposes them by data cleansing and installing a new operating system and software. They are then gifted to disadvantaged young people by charities and social organisations working directly within key communities.

Grand Bridges works across the tech sector and is very aware of the skills challenges facing high-growth and established global firms alike. Supporting DigiLocal allows them to contribute to tackling that challenge by engaging children from eight years old with fun projects in Scratch and Python. This ensures that when young people are making career decisions, the tech options are there for them.

Charity CEO John Bradford commented “Our clubs run throughout the year with young people welcome to attend as long as they are enjoying themselves and making progress. This investment in young people and their communities is critical to DigiLocal’s success and we’re very excited that Grand Bridges is getting behind us and the future generations of tech innovators.”

  • Ends –

About Digilocal

DigiLocal® is an independent registered charity (Reg: 1185746) for the public benefit, to advance the education of young people in the UK from groups that are under-represented within the technology industry, in particular but not exclusively, by supporting free technology clubs. It supports communities to run free tech clubs for their young people. Its mission is to support a tech club for young people with every community in the UK that would like to provide one.

About Grand Bridges Marketing

Grand Bridges Marketing is a results-oriented technology marcoms consultancy dedicated to helping high-tech businesses build powerful global brands and develop effective new product introduction and go-to-market strategies. From start-ups to established players, Grand Bridges provides a truly unique outsourced marcom model, offloading the burden of campaign planning and execution to free up internal resources to concentrate on what they do best.

Evaluating resilience & problem solving

Disclaimer: This is not a formal, rigorous academic study. It is an attempt by a small charity to understand how young people might be benefitting from our activities, beyond the qualitative feedback we receive in-club and from parents.

We began asking young people to complete a resilience feedback form in February 2021. This is voluntary and anonymous to our volunteer mentors. The evaluation form was developed in partnership with University of Bristol student as part of a community engagement placement.

Since then we have collected data on 242 project completions (n=76 young people). Of these data sets, 14 contain >5 data points (project evaluations). The evaluation is not intended to assign an absolute score for a young person’s resilience.

Each snapshot has 3 key pieces of information (4 if you include the timestamp). We haven’t included timestamps as they could be used to identify young people (attendance on specific evenings equating to a particular club session).

The three pieces of information are:

  1. project complexity,
  2. confidence in completing the project, and
  3. support from volunteers in completing the project

Our projects are (roughly) ordered from easy to more complex. This happens across three difficult ‘levels’, White, Yellow, Blue. This general colour grading allows volunteers to quickly recognise the relative complexity of the project the young person is working on, and suggest other projects to undertake.

The null hypothesis is that if our activities are of no benefit, then young people should be less confident / require more volunteer support as projects get more complex.

Fortunately, none of the data sets show this!

There are some interesting profiles that can be seen within the data.

‘Aha moment’

This chat shows an ‘aha’ moment on completion of our ‘Painting with Scratch’ project. This is classed as a starter project, but is actually quite complex. There is an important element of abstraction involved, with a single sprite (the pen) being controlled by several other sprites (the buttons).

The subsequent dip is the transition from White (starter) projects, to Yellow (intermediate) projects. Sentence Creator, and Secret Messages, are both quite complex list manipulation projects in Scratch. However, confidence is maintained and increases with Balloon Pop (introduces cloning) and password generator (more lists and string contamination).

Throughout this journey, the mentor support has been sustained.


This chart shows a young person’s journey from Scratch to Python over nearly 10 months. The project titles are hard to read but the last one is the transition to Python with ‘Hello World’.

The decreasing support over the first few projects suggests that they were making good progress and not requiring additional support. Their confidence remains high throughout. Password Generator, and Clone Wars are conceptually challenging projects, reflecting the increased volunteer support given.

The Memory Game (the second confidence uptick) is often a challenge for young people as there’s an abstraction between the main sprite and the buttons you press depending on the sequence of random values chosen. Once that is overcome, it’s relatively easy to complete and is a great springboard to more complex projects. 

The flat line over the last few projects suggests that the young person’s confidence is matched to the increasingly challenging projects. The uptick on completing their first python project ‘Hello World’, shows a significant increase in confidence on transition to python. This is likely due to their experiences and successes in Scratch previously.

More profiles

As we continue to collect data, we’ll continue to post interesting profiles to demonstration different trajectories through our projects.

DigiLocal People – James

James began volunteering with DigiLocal in May 2022. He is one of the volunteers supporting young people at Filton Community Centre. You can see the full programme of current clubs on our calendar.

DigiLocal Calendar of club sessions

James’ colleague Elisa with young people at our Filton Club.

We asked James why he spends an hour of his time each week supporting young people as a volunteer mentor with DigiLocal.

With the world changing so quickly around us, it has never been more important to support the young people that will build the society of the future – particularly in understanding how we can make the best of technology and the opportunities and challenges it brings.

There is an obvious focus within the clubs on supporting young people. We know that participating in coding activities helps to develop key problem solving skills and build their resilience. However, it’s also important that our volunteers feel benefit for giving their time. We asked James how he benefited from volunteering.

Along with the fulfilment of contributing to young people’s learning, I believe volunteering is a two-way street with many opportunities for mentors to develop too. For instance, young people often apply incredible creativity to problems and this is particularly true when combined with the technology and coding skillset that DigiLocal provides.

Data from STEM Learning on the benefits of volunteering.

Many leading firms have volunteering programs for their staff. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer with a range of charities, so we were interested to know why James chose DigiLocal.

DigiLocal has been a great fit for me, and I would recommend it highly to anyone in a similar situation – the density of engineering companies close to the DigiLocal hubs in Filton and Patchway particularly make for a very convenient stop on the way home for many. Also, I feel DigiLocal’s focus on placing hubs where they are most needed goes a long way to improving equality and community cohesion in the future.

Volunteering with DigiLocal is a commitment to the young people. Our clubs run every week throughout the year, including holiday periods. We do try and add in external challenges and opportunities to keep things fresh for both young people and volunteers. That long term engagement isn’t always easy to balance with hectic work life and other pressures, so we asked what kept James coming back each week.

For volunteers, DigiLocal offers a great balance between flexibility and structure. New mentors are supported their initial sessions and there are regularly new activities, challenges and themes to follow.

There are always things that go well, and some things that could be improved. We asked James for some of his highlights and lowlights of volunteering.

DigiLocal is all highlight! My only minor feedback as a volunteer would be that the number of young people can vary quite a bit between sessions.

Each club supports up to 10 young people, with at least two volunteers in a session. We send out reminders to parents before each club session and most are very good at letting us know if their young people are unable to attend. We do maintain waiting lists for our popular clubs and if young people don’t attend without giving notice three times, then we offer their place to the next on the list.

DigiLocal People – Souya and Pandora

Souya is a new volunteer with our club in Southmead. Pandora is a young person attending our Southmead club. Both attended our morning with Laura Rawlings at BBC Radio Bristol and you can hear their pieces at the end of this post. We also wanted to give Souya an opportunity to share her thoughts in written form.

From left – Laura, Souya, Pandora, John, George

We started by asking why Souya began volunteering with DigiLocal.

I took advantage of free clubs that were part of the community in my youth such as swimming lessons, sporting initiatives and IT introductory sessions. 

Due to that experience, I feel that it is important to volunteer in clubs that are part of the community and benefit people who may not have the means to access certain opportunities.

I believe it is important to have the representation of people from many walks of life. 

Although I am now a Graduate Civil Engineer I believe we are going into a cyber influenced future so introducing subjects such as coding to young people helps equip and empower them for the future.

All our DigiLocal volunteers work in industry and bring their real-world experience to the clubs. This gives young people the opportunity to see real engineers in action, solving problems alongside the young people. This is obviously a huge benefit for the young people but we wanted to know what Souya got from supporting the young people.

Satisfaction!!! Being able to encourage and facilitate the learning of young people from under-represented backgrounds to get involved in something different inspires me.  Being able to play a small part in a young persons’ learning and development – even if it is just one hour of coding a week provides me with an incredible sense of achievement.

There are lots of charities and groups that rely on their volunteers to bring benefit to their communities. We asked Souya why she choose DigiLocal over the many volunteering options available to her.

At the beginning I didn’t know anything about DigiLocal. I wanted to volunteer at a club that is consistent, was within the engineering or technology sector and was an accessible location so that I could incorporate the volunteering opportunity into my schedule. 

As DigiLocal managed to meet my criteria, I chose to volunteer there.  Now that I know more about it – I wouldn’t want to volunteer anywhere else!

Our clubs run for 1 hour each week. This is quite a large commitment for someone with a busy professional and personal life. We wanted to know what kept Souya coming back to the club each week.

Watching the progression of the young people every week is encouraging and exciting. 

The improvement is gradual but consistent and very evident in how  much their confidence grows from one week to the next.  

I feel  that there is a huge shortage of volunteers and it is important to have the representation of people from many walks of life so I have decided to carry that mantle.

With everything we do there are high lights and low lights. We asked Souya what some of those high lights were.

Watching the young people show their creativity and enthusiasm. 

An example of this is when a young person asks questions which are very different to what is mentioned in the instructions booklet.  Showcasing their abilities.  I am reminded that young people’s minds are open and eager to learn and we should encourage that.

We also asked about the times things don’t quite work out.

Inevitably life gets in the way and I am not able to volunteer all the time.  That is one of the reasons I believe there is a need for volunteers.

If you’d like to volunteer with DigiLocal, check out our volunteering page for more information. You can hear Souya and Pandora talking to Laura on the audio links below:

Souya talking to Laura Rawlings, BBC Radio Bristol, 24 July 2022
Pandora talking to Laura Rawlings, BBC Radio Bristol, 24 July 2022

DigiLocal People – Rishita & Thomas

DigiLocal is there to give young people the opportunity to discover and develop their digital talents. That generally means they aren’t into gaming or coding. Quite often there isn’t really anyone in their family or social circle that works with technology.

We were interested in why Rishita and Thomas started attending our clubs (other than just because their parents took them).

Rishita at home on her repurposed DigiLocal laptop during COVID-19 Pandemic

The reason why I am attending DigiLocal is that I have wanted to try something new such as coding and have learnt a lot. 


I can’t really remember!! 

I went to the library one day and witnessed a club taking place and was interested in computers. 

Prior to joining the club, I didn’t know much about computers or coding.


The projects are DigiLocal are all supported by written guides for the young people to follow. These give the structure and basic functionality for games and applications. We then encourage young people to continue those frameworks with their own ideas. This is where our volunteer mentors like George and Souya really come into their own, supporting the young people to challenge themselves to make more complex projects and experiment with how far they can take their ideas.

I enjoy starting and finishing new projects  – I feel really happy when it works. 


What I enjoy about attending the sessions is that the sessions are really interactive and I can work independently. It is not like school where I would have to wait until the teacher set out the work and will have to wait until everyone has finished. 

I only ask for help when I need it and there are lots of fun guides. . 

There is no set group to join. So if I find something easy, I can move on to harder stuff. 

With the online sessions-  I am able to do more coding and give me more opportunities. 

Thomas (left) with mentor Gabe and Abdirahman at the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2019

A key part of learning to overcome challenges, of any sort, is being able to enjoy the process of figuring out the answer. Sometimes you can do this alone, but often it’s easier with others (whether they are friends, colleagues, or mentors). It’s also important to set yourself challenges so you keep extending your abilities.

We wanted to know what the young people had found challenging while attending DigiLocal clubs.

What I have found challenging is using multiple windows at once. However, when i do find something challenging, I ask one of the volunteers and we are able to find a solution. 


Personally, I did not find anything challenging/hard. I found it really enjoyable! I tend to make things harder than they actually are.


DigiLocal doesn’t have a set curriculum. Young people follow project guides and learn by doing. While it’s useful to know a particular language (python being very popular at the moment), it’s more important to learn how to think a problem through and recognise core programming concepts to building a solution.

I have learned how to use scratch. 


I have learnt scratch and python. Generally, I have learnt a lot more about coding than before. I did not have a computer at home and only used a computer once a month at school. 


DigiLocal wants to help prepare young people for the world of work after our clubs. We were interested to know what they thought about their future activities after DigiLocal and school.

I want to get into the tech industry and in terms of a job, to be a CEO for a tech company. 


I definitely want to get into coding. Not sure about jobs at the moment. 

Possibly a software engineer or making electronics stuff. 


DigiLocal People – Bakoto

Bakoto began attending our original club at Barton Hill Settlement in 2016. She progressed quickly through our projects and ended up coding in Python before her studies meant she had to step away from weekly club attendance. Through her connections at DigiLocal she secured a work placement with a local Bristol technology firm and went on to study Cyber Security at University.

Bakoto was invited to join DigiLocal as a trustee to benefit from her personal experience as a club attendee, a woman, and a person of colour. It is a major decision to be a charity Trustee and we wanted to know why she accepted the invitation

I am a trustee because I believe it’s a great opportunity for me as a young person who can relate to young people. 

Being a trustee for DigiLocal is great as their aim is to assist people from disadvantaged backgrounds, POC/Black. 

For DigiLocal to be able to give the opportunity to them is a great thing 

We are hugely grateful for the knowledge and experiences that our Trustee bring to the DigiLocal. We also see being a Trustee as an opportunity for individuals to grow and extend their expertise, and to gain new experiences. We were interested in what Bakoto had gained from being a Trustee (for the avoidance of doubt, all Trustees at DigiLocal are unpaid and receive no financial benefit from their Trusteeship).

There are a number of reasons of what i get out of being a trustee,

The first reason is connecting with other younger trustees. By inputting ideas for the club and listening to other people’s ideas, we are able to make something great for the young people.  

Being able to work and assist with other communities is what I also get out of being a trustee. 

An example of this is sending out laptops to young people during the pandemic. 

Bakoto coding a Raspberry Pi at our 2017 Celebration event

As an attendee at DigiLocal, Bakoto completed all our projects along with participating a many special events. Trying new challenges, in a safe environment, is a key part of DigiLocal supporting young young people to achieve their potential. We were interested in which challenges Bakoto remembered in particular.

For me, it was transitioning from scratch to python. This was a good challenge as it developed my skills in the end and was helpful while working on coding for my university course. 

DigiLocal doesn’t have a formal curriculum for young people to follow. We focus on developing problem solving skills and building resilience through our fun and challenging projects. Obviously, we hope that young people are learning, and we wanted to know what Bakoto thought she had learned from her time as an attendee with DigiLocal.

I have learned so much!

For example, I have learned to network and therefore find job opportunities and work experience. 

This has helped me develop my career and has a clear idea on what field to specialise in the future.  

Another example is that I have learned how to programme. 

We are honoured to have Bakoto as a Trustee and wanted to hear a little about her future plans post-DigiLocal.

Following from the previous question, I would like to get into the cyber security field, in particular online safety/e-safety. I would like to help people to protect themselves online. 

More success for DigiLocal young people

DigiLocal is supporting young people to discover and develop their digital talents. We provide young people from under-represented groups in the tech industry with opportunities to develop their problem solving skills and build resilience.

In addition to our weekly community based clubs, we also provide external opportunities such as the European Astro Pi Challenge – Mission Zero.

Mission Zero offers participants up to 19 years old the chance to have their code run on the International Space Station!

External challenges help young people see the real-world application of their club activities. With our support they can, literally in this case, reach for the stars.

Dr John Bradford, CEO, DigiLocal

Teams or individuals write a python program to display a message and take environmental reading on an Astro Pi computer. These messages and readings are displayed to the astronauts as they go about their daily tasks on the ISS.

There are strict requirements that the code run without errors, complete it’s display within 30 seconds, and be efficiently coded.

Each year we support teams of young people to discover and participate in the Mission Zero Challenge. This year we had 6 teams taking part from across Bristol.

“We’ve really enjoyed attending… It’s so much fun. We started using scratch and then moved on to Python, which is more challenging. We specially like the competitions.”

Aycel & Kanzy (aged 11 & 9 yrs)

Each team receives a high quality certificate with a map on the reverse showing where the ISS was when their code ran (and yes, the maps are all different, showing exact times / locations – as you’d expect from a space station)!

About Digilocal

DigiLocal® is an independent registered charity (Reg: 1185746) for the public benefit, to advance the education of young people in the UK from groups that are under-represented within the technology industry, in particular but not exclusively, by supporting free technology clubs. It supports communities to run free tech clubs for their young people. Its mission is to support a tech club for young people with every community in the UK that would like to provide one.

European Astro Pi Challenge

The European Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It offers students and young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The Benefits of Coding for Children

We’re delighted to be featured in Twinkl’s recent blog – The Benefits of Coding for Children. Read the full article on their website with contributions from other leading organisations that are supporting young coders.

We also contributed to their Q&A, with the following contributions:

Why is it important for children to learn to code?

A good coder is able to take a complex problem, and clearly describe a solution. They learn how to break large impossibles into manageable challenges. When things don’t go as expected, they review those expectations against what actually happened, and devise how to reconcile the two. It is these core problem solving skills and internal resilience that learning to code can develop in young people. Those skills are vital to being a good coder, and almost any career today or tomorrow.

What interests you the most about coding that can encourage children to get involved?

Coding is about making stuff happen. So we build games and other cool stuff. We start with Scratch, which is drag’n’drop coding, and work up to python which is a full coding language.

Coding is also about expressing who you are as a person. So we encourage young people to take our projects and make them their own. That could be changing a few colours and sprites, through to imaging a whole new world to explore.

What are some benefits of coding that can improve a child’s development?

Coding requires good reading, comprehension, and functional maths. All our projects have companion guides to follow, so young people can learn at their own pace but have to read and follow instructions. Our guides are written for young people and explain concepts clearly, but use technical language so that it becomes familiar. Coding also encourages teamwork and idea sharing. Many challenges are simply too large for anyone to tackle alone, so forming a team is the only solution.

Check out their other educational resources on Coding here.

Over £325k worth of laptops distributed to disadvantaged young people to tackle digital poverty

We passed a significant milestone with distributed over 650 laptops to disadvantaged young people in the Bristol region. This represents over £325,000 worth of donated equipment!

In response to young people in digital poverty, DigiLocal has been coordinating a laptop repurposing initiative. Laptops have been donated by members of the general public and businesses local to Bristol. DigiLocal then repurposes them by data cleansing and installing a new operating system and software. They are then gifted to disadvantaged young people by charities and social organisations working directly within key communities.

“My name is Sajid and my experience with the laptop has been great. It has helped me with my schoolwork a lot at home. It’s very fast and efficient and is easy to load websites on. Thank you very much.” Young person in Redcliffe

Charity CEO John Bradford commented “The COVID-19 pandemic has crystalised digital poverty as a widely recognised issue for young people across the UK. We were able to quickly address this in our region by working with key partners. The generosity of the Bristol public and businesses has been fantastic. We’re now building a sustainable system to ensure that no young person is excluded from education through lack of digital access.”

Digilocal has been operating in the West of England for the past five years, becoming a charity in 2019. It seeks to bring digital skills to the heart of communities, operating free to attend coding clubs for children within over 14 local community centres.  Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Digilocal has been hosting sessions online every weekday evening for children who want to learn coding skills.

This work was kindly supported in part by the Quartet Community Foundation.