Stemiverse 0012 – Nicola O’Brien: Code Rangers 

 October 17, 2017

By  Peter

In this episode, Dr. Peter Dalmaris and Marcus Schappi talk with Nicola O’Brien.

Nicola is the founder of Code Rangers, a company based in Sydney that teaches children how to code, develop games, and apps. Nicola’s created Code Rangers after a long career in Corporate Law and Finance. She is particularly passionate about programming and understands the importance of technology literacy as a basic prerequisite for our children’s digital future.

Let’s listen to Nicola as she describes her teaching philosophy as she applies it in Code Rangers.

This is Stemiverse podcast episode 12.

Stemiverse podcast is brought to you by Tech Explorations, a leading provider of educational resources for Makers, STEM students, and teachers. Go to to see a complete list of our books and courses covering the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and electronics.

Show notes

  • [00:00] Introduction – Introducing Nicola O’Brien
  • [01:38] Nicola talks about her background and her company Code Rangers
  • [02:40] Nicola’s professional journey: From acquiring Law and Accounting degrees to becoming a finance lawyer, a financial analyst, to learning Visual Basic and exploring coding, as well as her father’s influence as a computer scientist
  • [04:52] What triggered Nicola’s change from Law to Education
  • [06:08] Nicola as a child
  • [07:39] Nicola’s teaching experience before starting Code Rangers
  • [08:31] The influence having children had on Nicola
  • [10:08] Why Coding was Nicola’s subject of choice
  • [11:10] The leap from Ethics lessons to teaching Coding
  • [13:34] What outcomes parents are looking for and what their expectations are
  • [15:27] Nicola’s teaching tools: Scratch and Makey Makey for younger kids, Python for older ones
  • [15:53] Scratch
  • [17:43] Tab vs 3 Spaces
  • [18:18] Web development using Thimble by Mozilla
  • [18:59] Micro:bit
  • [21:11] Combining scripted lessons with student exploration
  • [22:17] How students deal with challenges: Troubleshooting
  • [24:45] Code Rangers’ Schedule
  • [25:58] If you had an unlimited budget how would you design an ideal educational system? PD for teachers
  • [29:13] How to get kids interested in technology
  • [31:47] Character qualities for technology teachers: Being observant, empathetic and encouraging
  • [33:50] Code Rangers’ company size
  • [34:37] Rapid Fire Questions
  • [34:50] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach: Seymour Pappert
  • [35:03] Apps you cannot live without? Zapier
  • [36:38] Professional Development Conferences and Workshops: Networking, Twitter chat: #aussieED@aussieEDchat@edchatNZ#whatisschool
  • [40:00] Parting Thoughts, Dos and Don’ts
  • [40:38] Nicola’s Contact Info: Code Rangers’ Website


Peter Dalmaris is an educator, electrical engineer, electronics hobbyist, and Maker. Creator of online video courses on DIY electronics and author of three technical books, and has recently released his book Maker Education Revolution.   As a Chief Tech Explorer since 2013 at Tech Explorations, the company he founded in Sydney, Australia, Peter’s mission is to explore technology and help educate the world.  Tech Explorations offers educational courses and Bootcamps for electronics hobbyists, STEM students and STEM teachers. A life-long learner, Peter’s core skill is in explaining difficult concepts through video and text. With over 15 years of tertiary teaching experience, Peter has developed a simple yet comprehensive style in teaching that students from all around the world appreciate.  His passion for technology and in particular for the world of DIY open source hardware has been a dominant driver that has guided his personal development and his work through Tech Explorations. Peter’s current online courses have helped over 60,000 people from around the world to be better Makers. 

Peter Dalmaris

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