Loughrea joins the Coder Dojo movement with a bang.

It all started with a few conversations with friends who were involved with nearby Coder
Dojos. The recently born Coder Dojo Kinvara, the more established Coder Dojo Athenry.
Then a chat with Minister for training and skills Ciaran Cannon – who is an avid supporter
of the movement. With assurances that Coder Dojo quickly becomes a community all of
itʼs own complete with multiple leaders willing to keep the community alive. I decided
instead of travelling to Athenry or Kinvara with my daughter we should get something
going locally here in Loughrea.

Loughrea_first_session

From then it was surprisingly easy. Once we started to tell people what we wanted to do it
gained a momentum all of its own. First we had multiple local venues offering to give us a
home. The one with most enthusiasm and space was St. Raphaels College Loughrea. The
schools principal Paul Cafferky made sure we had everything we needed and enrolled
more help through the school network. Then we had parents and people who arenʼt even
parents coming to offer assistance as mentors.
Our Facebook group grew steadily all summer in anticipation of the first session. Other
Dojoʼs from all over the world connected with us on twitter and offered their
encouragement.

Then the first session came. A handle full of Mentors (8/10 of the most awesome type of
awesome people) arrived early at the venue and helped to set up. Then we waited joking
we might have more Mentors then Kids. The sign up table took itʼs first few Ninjas (the kids
and young adult coders) and their parents/adults. Then the queue began to form, out the
door and well into the car park (honestly I couldnʼt see the end). Mentors did all they could
to grab more seats and tables from around the school. Eventually everyone was in. With
just enough room to move around the crowd I began an introduction to Coder Dojo and
programming in Scratch.

What really made the session for me was watching as a Coder Dojo Ninja from Athenry
Dojo took to the front and became a lead Mentor. Padraic Wade a well versed Ninja
himself presented some cool projects to whet the appetite of our new Ninjas.
From this Padraic and I every so often went to the front to show another neat trick with
Scratch. Each time the new Ninjas immediately set to work using the new trick and even
adding their own take. Within two hours we had 114 Coder Ninjas and their 58 Parents/
adults seeing the possibilities that lay in computer coding.

Already I can see how much collaboration is starting to happen at the tables, how much
more fun is yet to come. But mostly I can see Ireland’s tech talent of the future will be in
healthy supply. The amazing part about it all is that itʼs happening from the awesome
people who volunteer their time to Mentor, the brilliant venues that give the space, and the
parents that encourage and chaperone the Ninjas. To all who are making Coder Dojo
communities within their communities keep up the good work. And to those who are
thinking of setting up a new Dojo I can say beyond doubt start it and the support will come.

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