Saturday, May 12, 2012

CoderDojo - encouraging the next ZX Spectrum generation of programmers

Chris Taylor and Matt Johnston have been hosting a weekly technology podcast over on since January. Last week, Chris spoke to Nichola Bates, one of the founders of CoderDojo Newry, a computer programming workshop aimed at children from as young as eight years old.

Dojo is a Japanese term that has been used to describe martial arts training centre. Practitioners from the local IT industry sign up as mentors and coach the children as they work through each session’s activities, stretching their understanding.

As well as looking at markup languages like HTML, the Newry CoderDojo also introduce MIT’s Scratch programming environment which allows newcomers to quickly develop animated games and pick up the creative buzz. Here's an example of a Scratch-powered version of Space Invaders written by a 10 year old at the CoderDojo Newry. (It had sound, but the video didn't capture it.)

The Newry organisers sum up their offering:

At Coder Dojo Newry our aim is to encourage kids to get into computing and to be really good at it! There are lots of jobs and start up opportunities for good programmers – and as far as we can see there always will be.

No prior programming experience is required – if you are honestly interested in computing come a long and try it out! Like all Dojo’s we try to make it relaxed, fun, cool and interesting.

No lectures or classroom approaches here – it’s 100% hands-on coding with the help of volunteer mentors to pass on their knowledge and keep you challenged!

As well as the well-established CoderDojo Newry and one that began today in Belfast MET, there are also large number of other Dojos already running across the island of Ireland.

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