NUI Galway Invites Parents, Young Adults & Children to Join in and Help Make Galway the ‘Youth Coding Capital’ of Europe

School children get a taste of life online at a ‘Coderdojo’ computer programming youth club.
May 07 2014 Posted: 09:32 IST

A showcase ‘Coderdojo’ computer programming youth club will offer a taste of life online for parents, young adults and younger children at one of a number of centres in Galway

Parents, teachers, teenagers and children interested in computer programming are invited to attend a Coderdojo event at NUI Galway. Members from Coderdojo, one of lreland’s fastest growing volunteer youth clubs will showcase their own computer games and digital stories on Saturday, May 17 from 12pm to 2pm at NUI Galway’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics (formerly DERI), Dangan Business Park, Galway. The event will coincide with International Scratch Day.

Coderdojo is an open source, volunteer-led movement orientated around running free not-for-profit coding clubs for young people in a relaxed and social environment. At a dojo (Japanese term for training centre), young people between the ages of 5 and 17 learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs and games. Dojos are setup, managed and taught by volunteers. The first Coderdojo was established in Cork in June 2011 by James Whelton and Bill Liao. Since then it has become an Irish technology export success story active in forty-three countries.

Brendan Smith, one of Coderdojo Galway’s co-founders and Insight’s Outreach Officer said, “There is a real appetite amongst our young people to learn how to code. They want to move on from playing computer games to making their own versions. This is shown by the fact that every Saturday, in towns across Galway including Athenry, Clifden, Eyrecourt, Kinvara, Loughrea, Mountbellew and Tuam as well as in NUI Galway, hundreds of enthusiastic children and teenagers create their very own games, digital stories and web applications facilitated by volunteer Coderdojo mentors.”

Coding is the new literacy of the 21st century; it is as important for children to learn how to programme as it is how to read and write. It is vital for Ireland to develop a sustainable knowledge economy and society, to create the next generation of products and processes using the creativity of today’s youth.

May 17 is International Scratch Day. Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Scratch is the world’s most popular computer language for young people. It has a cross-disciplinary ethos and structure that combines mathematics with elements of arts, engineering and personal development. So we are using this opportunity to encourage our young coders or ‘ninjas’ to showcase their projects to the general public.”

East Galway TD Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State for Training and Skills at the Department of Education and Skills has taken a very pro-active ‘hands-on’ approach in promoting digital creativity in schools and amongst communities. Government educational reform has ensured that five decades after the tentative introduction of computing into Irish schools, coding will soon become part of the national post-primary curriculum at junior cycle level. This has resulted in the birth of the first generation of Irish children that can code, people who are truly ‘digital creators’ rather than just passive ‘digital users’.

Galway is quickly becoming the Youth Coding Capital of Ireland and possibly of Europe. During the inaugural Europe Coding Week last November, not only was Ireland the most active country but Galway city and county hosted the highest concentration of events of any region in Europe.

Over the last year, volunteer tutors from NUI Galway, GMIT, Hewlett Packard and Fidelity have worked together to coordinate the delivery of computer programming courses to thousands of pupils and students in over sixty primary and post-primary schools across counties Mayo, Westmeath and Galway. Local young people’s clubs such as ‘091 Labs’ and the Coderdojos are providing informal after-school digital makers’ environments.

Insight at NUI Galway is part of a cross Ireland university research centre designed to provide a national ICT research platform based on world-class research programmes that will serve as a global beacon for the science and application of Big Data Analytics.


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