Little Sandbox a project we started in September 2015, which aims to address the skills shortages and gender divide in technology careers.
Thanks to funding from BBC Children in Need we started a Saturday morning tech club in the main hall at St Mary’s Complex in Bootle. Since 2016 we now run 3 different clubs:
Monday Night Tech Club – for ages 6 – 12. This general tech club covers all interests from Minecraft to Raspberry Pi.
Tuesday Night – Coding Club – for ages 10+. This club focuses on coding and long term group projects such as making a video game, or building a robot.
Wednesday Night Video Game Club – ages 8+. This club is for the kids who just love playing video games. We get them to play games and review them as part of the Little Sandbox website. Not only providing skills in analysis, critiquing and presentation, but we also bring in elements of learning through the games we suggest.
We’re always working on improving Little Sandbox, and consult regularly with our members and their parents. So far we have around 30 members.
What are the benefits?
- Both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to develop skills through project working, and having access to technology (still predominantly thought of as boys toys) that strengthen systematic thinking and problem solving, while also developing skills in empathy, team-work and communication.
- Increasing the technical knowledge and experience of local children will greatly enhance their chances of future employment. Skills in technology will not only have a beneficial economic impact for participants. Increase connectivity will offer new channels for creativity, learning and social action.
- Our work will help raise the self-esteem of children who may be interested in technology subjects and develop greater aspiration towards a career in the sector. Girls are currently much less likely to consider coding and we will undertake specific activity to redress this.
- Little Sandbox will make a difference to our local community by providing equipment and expertise in deprived areas, where children would otherwise not have access. By also working with schools and clubs we will help ensure other professionals working with children are able to embed tech in their work.