“Brave Ideas”: Facilitating Year 9 Girls Tinkering with Code Bugs

As a result of an earlier project aimed at widening the participation of girls in science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) subjects EdLab facilitated a follow up tinkering session at Whalley Range High School with Year 9 girls. To do this we took along mini codable LED devices called Code Bugs, and engaged the girls in a 90 minute competition to create an interactive page from a children’s book.

The basis of the session was to use arts and tinkering pedagogies to provide an inclusive and ambitious learning episode for the pupils. Whilst the gender imbalance in STEM subjects is widely publicized, the value of art subjects, which attract more girls, is not, and by introducing arts into a STEM activity (STE’A’M) we aimed to develop a more inclusive and rounded learning experience.

Further, tinkering pedagogies, or making pedagogies, have basis in constructivist and social learning theories which value the learner as an active participant int he learning process. In this way we approached the session with high expectations of the pupils, and facilitated them in exploring and creating using their own ideas and the materials provided. These high expectations,, creative element, and an open and collaborative environment yielded some fantastic results.

Students explored the possibilities in their groups and were supported by EdLab staff and PGCE students to question and experiment. One group for example, surprised us all by using their own earphones to programme the Code Bug play the Harry Potter theme tune through their page. Teacher Huw John, was extremely pleased with how the session went, and commented that pupils had really engaged at a high level in the coding activity.

It was also great to have Shabnam and Chris supporting the session, and they reflected on the experience here:




Materials Provided:

Crafting kit – pens, scissors, paper, coloured foam, double sided sticky tape

Code Bugs

Crocodile Clip Connectors


LED lights

Copper Tape


Vossoughi, S. & Bevan, B. (October, 2014). Making and Tinkering: A Review of the Literature. National Research Council Committee on Out of School Time STEM: 1-55