Code Club and the cinema

By Gemma Coleman. Posted

Originally published in Hello World Issue 17: Health and well-being, October 2021. All information true at the time of original publishing.

Gemma Coleman catches up with Ali Alzubaidy and Mustafa Khalid about their innovative use of cinemas for their Code Club meets in Iraq

What inspired you to use cinemas for Code Club?

Cinemas have many features that attract people to watch movies. Among them are the large screen, good sound and lighting, and comfortable chairs. The other special thing is eating [pop]corn during the film. These sounded like the perfect ingredients for a successful and engaging Code Club!

What are the benefits of using cinemas for Code Clubs?

Along with the above benefits of sound and lighting and a big screen to project tasks onto, there are plastic barriers between the seats, and this achieves social distancing during the coronavirus crisis.

Another important point we would like to highlight is that not all parents have the financial ability to take their kids to the cinema. This was an important point that made us think about organising our event in the cinema, to help as many kids as possible have a cinematic experience, while also learning coding for free.

What feedback have you had from the children?

In our first workshop in the cinema hall, the members of the Code Club asked, “Which movie will we watch today?” We told them it was a surprise, and when we displayed on the big screen that we were here to learn to code, all the members said, “It is an amazing idea!” They liked lots of things, like the comfortable chairs, the hall sound, and the big screen, and they loved that after finishing your activity, you get to eat your [pop]corn!

How do you get the cinemas to let you use their space for Code Club?

After organising a meeting with the cinema administration, we presented a summary about MyCodeClub’s target, which is to turn cinema halls in Iraq into learning halls during their non-screening time. We explained that cinemas are a great environment in which to teach young people programming, because of the good effects on their logical thinking. They agreed to support our Code Club activities, providing the VIP hall for free every Friday from 9am to 12pm, in addition to providing free fruit, drinks, and [pop]corn for MyCodeClub members.

Would you recommend other Code Clubs try this out?

I recommend that volunteers always look for new things to keep their Code Club active. Cinema halls encourage young people to communicate and continue to learn coding and other activities because of the cinema’s engaging side effects. 

Ali Alzubaidy

Ali is an educator at the Ministry of Higher Education in Baghdad, Iraq. He is the founder of the Coding for Kids initiative, focusing on teaching kids STEAM subjects and coding in a fun way. He is also a Raspberry Pi volunteer on the translation team.

Mustafa Khalid  

Mustafa is from Baghdad and is a PhD student in AI in China. He is the co-founder of Coding for Kids, a Code Club volunteer, and an IT company manager at AiNi (Artificial intelligence for Natural insights).


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