A new mentor explains the experience at CoderDojo

Barry James came to his first CoderDojo on 21st January 2012 to see if he could help out and document the event in pictures – he was so impressed he wrote this post on his own blog. I found it very encouraging to hear a neutral, first time visitor to a Dojo speak about what he observed there… [below is a transcript of Barry’s post]

Perhaps I don’t get out much however until now, an event has never left me looking for superlatives to describe it.

So let’s get that bit out of the way. CoderDojo was amazing, inspiring and awesome. Never have I seen kids so engaged by a bunch of code monkeys (an affectionate term for highly skilled web development professionals), their imagination piqued and their natural creativity on full show. Never have I seen kids get so excited by pressing F5…not until now!

Packed house at CoderDojo Drogheda!

Packed house at CoderDojo Drogheda!

I only showed up to take photos and drink the coffee I was promised but no sooner was I in the door than I was handed a flash drive and told to get a table of kids up and running. Turns out my lot where beginners and HTML was to be their code of choice. I was more than happy not to be landed with the kid looking for help with PHP and Java! More about him later!

Its been a while since I actually coded HTML but its not foreign to me. Within 20 minutes however I was sweating having been corrected by a ten year old all because I forget a

-” just testing you” I told him, tentatively!

Alot of kids had their own laptops, some had their dad’s old knackered one and some used PCs provided. I spoke to a parent who said that her kid only used his laptop to play chess and until now had no other productive use for it. He was 7 years old and within 40 minutes was tweaking code and pressing F5 to refresh the changes he’d made to his first web page. He was impressed…she was floored!

Peter was another star! About 11 years old and very deliberate and diligent in his work. You’d think that he was doing this for 10 years! Whilst everyone else had moved onto tutorial 3, Peter was busy quizzing me about the differences between embedding video and embedding images in a web page! He questioned everything from browsers to editors to image compression. The kid has a plan and as you read this I’m certain he’s at home figuring things out!

Shauna was simply amazing. She read through the tutorial and just seemed to grasp concepts immediately. Once completed she was onto the next section well ahead of the others. All this was new to her but with a open mind and eagerness to learn she breezed through the session with ease.

CoderDojo Drogheda 21st January 2012

CoderDojo Drogheda 21st January 2012

Everybody involved in CoderDojo was a volunteer, giving up their own time to share their knowledge with children. Had I not been there, I’d have passed this off as very noble however, as I learnt, there’s so much energy from these kids that it makes the whole event very rewarding and worthwhile.

There were 42 kids. We ran out of space and some were turned away. A bigger venue is needed with lots of chairs and loads of power points. From what I saw, CoderDojo is a runaway success and I’ll be swatting up so that I can keep up and be invited to the next one!

Finally, as we were eating the pizza that Domino’s delivered I had a chat with Alex (the PHP and Java kid). He’s 15, has been coding for 2 years and is cooler than I ever was or will be!

“So, what were you working on?” I asked.
“A new social network” says he.

I rolled my eyes. He noticed. I felt bad and he started to explain the structure and function. I felt worse. In fact, I felt dizzy.

“What’s the coolest project you’ve completed so far?” I asked.
“I used VB to design a method for tracking movement in regular videos. This lets you add a layer to turn them into 3D” he told me.
“Oh!” I said

And there it ended!

What Pizza? :)

What Pizza? 🙂

— (c) Barry James, 21st January 2012.

Share this post