D4 CoderDojo

Image provided by CoderDojo.

Image provided by CoderDojo.

August 30th saw the return of CoderDojo to Star of the Sea Parish Hall in Sandymount. D4 CoderDojo is a joint initiative, which sees UPC partner up with CoderDojo in providing assistance to children as young as six in learning how to develop websites, games, apps and much more.

CoderDojo is a non-profit organisation founded by entrepreneur Bill Liao and James Welton, a 17 year old from Cork. The project is a network of free coding clubs for children, with its primary objective being the cultivation of future computer skills in a fun and friendly environment. The clubs also encourage young people to impart their knowledge, interact with each other and improve their creativity, presentation and problem-solving skills.

D4 CoderDojo had its pilot event on July 2nd in Star of the Sea Parish Hall. One of the star mentors of the day was Lauren Boyle, a nine year old pupil of the Teresian School in Donnybrook, who was recalled to mentor at the second installment of the project. Lauren, who has only been coding for a year and a half, was on hand to instruct over 100 young coders in understanding programming languages, such as Java, HTML and CSS, as well as programmes like Scratch.

Noel King, Coolest Projects Leader and mentor at CoderDojo said, “The knowledge and the skill that these kids have is fantastic. It’s a great resource for CoderDojo that they can pass on their skills to another generation of coders who are eager to learn.”

The pilot ended up being a success, and the same structure and layout was applied to the August 30th event, with tickets being limited to 50 on this occasion.

Grainne McLaughlin, VP of Legal Services at UPC Ireland and sponsor of D4 Dojo, spoke to NewsFour about the CoderDojo drive. “The only rule we have is ‘Be Cool!’”, McLaughlin said. “We were really excited to get involved with them (CoderDojo). The kids are cool; they come in with their laptops, they get to know each other in a collaborative environment. It worked really well. I was really amazed at how easy it was.”

UPC and CoderDojo are now running a fully fledged Dojo on a regular basis with mentors from UPC and the local community, though the general idea is to leave the kids to their work while mentors blend into the background.

The programme in Sandymount is the only CoderDojo in the Dublin 4 area, though there are others scattered around the country, including one in Trinity College.

McLaughlin also told NewsFour that the main ambition of the initiative is to make it accessible to everybody and that the initial success of the pilot has generated a positive reaction from parents and pupils alike.

“The kids were really interested in it,” she said. “We want it to appeal to everybody. You want a good mix, and you can always spot the kids who are really into it. There’s been a huge amount of interest, with people even offering to pay for the whole term. It’s sold out without us really advertising it at all. We could have booked it out twice over.”

By Craig Kinsella