Active coding with the Summer of Sport

By Kat Leadbetter. Posted

Kat Leadbetter shares how young people across the world challenged themselves to create sporty coding projects as part of the Code Club Summer of Sport

How can sport and coding interact? That’s exactly what young people across the world, from Scotland to Libya, contemplated this summer when they took part in the Summer of Sport: a free, fun activity linking coding and getting active.

With Euro 2020, the Tour de France, the Olympics, Paralympics, and many more pandemic-delayed events taking place this summer, sporting fever was everywhere. Physical exercise and being active are essential aspects of well-being and an important part of recovering from the impact of the pandemic. As a programme supporting young people in schools and educational spaces, Code Club looked to see how we could help them grow their coding skills and think about being active, while connecting with their peers in the spirit of the sporting calendar. 

Code Clubs help young people aged 9–13 learn to code through free, informal, educator-led coding sessions. At club sessions, young people use step-by-step instructions to create games, animations, and web pages, developing their coding skills in a range of different programming languages. As well as teaching young people the fundamentals of programming, Code Clubs can help develop soft skills like problem-solving and confidence, and build creativity as children adapt and personalise the things they make.

The Summer of Sport was designed as a way to extend these ideas by connecting young people with their hobbies and interests, asking them to use Scratch to share about sports they enjoy, tell us about an athlete they admire, or to create a sport or activity-themed game, animation, or project. 

Feedback from educators and volunteers has consistently shown the value of linking coding topics to relevant themes in curricula and real-world scenarios that impact young people’s lives. Embedding coding within real-world contexts and topics can support educators and young people alike to have meaningful coding experiences.

Low barrier to entry 

Code Clubs often pause their sessions during the school holidays. With many spaces only recently returning to in-person learning, the holidays also meant a pause in supporting catch-up activities for young people, developing learning that has been disrupted over the past year. For clubs choosing to extend their sessions into the break, or those who wanted to offer children an activity to try at home, the Summer of Sport was an easy way to keep coding.

The Summer of Sport was open to all young people across the world and used existing coding projects that many Code Club members were already familiar with. To take part, participants simply needed to select a Scratch project from a suggested list and get to work. Beginners could follow instructions to complete a simple project, while those with more experience could use a project as a starting point and add their own adaptations, or code something entirely new to share with us. The only rule was that finished projects had to have something to do with sport. Every participant could download a certificate to celebrate taking part and was invited to add their project to the Summer of Sport Scratch studio. You can take a look at the studio at helloworld.cc/sportstudio.

Global entries

From basketball games to penalty shoot-outs, we saw amazing entries from young people across the world. In one entry, players helped the Scratch Cat navigate ski slopes while avoiding an onslaught of rocks and multicoloured snowmen. We loved how this project took the original ‘Scratch Cat goes skiing’ project and added some creative changes. Haya, aged 13, from Baghdad in Iraq, thought carefully about why she chose to create a skiing game: “I chose this design because I love skiing. This sport is fun because it is a competitive game for everyone. It made me think of ways to combine sports with programming.”

In another shared game, players were asked to use their mouse to catch as many baseballs as they could in 30 seconds. Young coder Hawra, aged eleven, from Najaf in Iraq, followed her passion for basketball. She created a basketball game because she loves to play the sport in her spare time. She told us, “Sports are very useful, especially basketball, because we have to jump and run, and this makes the body active. When I exercised, I thought about how to design a game about this sport in an interesting way.”

As well as games, the Summer of Sport received plenty of Scratch animations. One such animation showed a scene of two friends horseback riding together, using simple code and changing costumes to simulate movement, while another showed a diver jumping from the high diving board. 

One project included a Scratch animation of two friends horse riding together

For club leader Ali Alzubaidy, the Summer of Sport provided a chance to connect with his club members after the pandemic: “We have missed the positive energy of such workshops, as we are only contacting our club via online meetings. The Summer of Sport activity was a brilliant idea which kept the active energy of our club members, encouraging them to think about their health and keep doing sports at home [with] the aid of coding magic.”

Themed coding collections

In the coming months, Code Club will be sharing more collections of themed projects. For World Space Week (4–10 October) we’ve curated a collection of projects themed around all things out of this world. Our next project collection will be based on the environment, to mark the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) from 31 October to 12 November. Each project collection is designed for all levels of coder; you can find out more at blog.codeclub.org

To find out how you can start a club in your school, head to codeclub.org.


Summer of Sport project ideas

  • Beat the goalie: Create a two-player football game

  • Sprint: Code a sprinting game, then race to the finish line

  • Synchronised swimming: Code a synchronised swimming routine using loops and clones

  • Chatbot: Tell us about your favourite sport

  • Relax and stretch: ‘Cool down’ by creating a program to demonstrate mindful, relaxing exercises


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