Camp CoderDojo – Clonakilty

Camp CoderDojo - Clonakilty

 

Last weekend saw the first ever Camp CoderDojo take place at the Quality Hotel in Clonakilty, West Cork. Attended by 170 kids, mentors and parents from all over Ireland, the event which was sponsored by SouthWestern and the Quality Hotel was a hub of activity from start to finish with kids ranging from 7 to 16 years of age learning how to code and develop their skills in areas such as Scratch Programming, Game Development, Web development, Robotics including Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s, Minecraft Modding, 3D Modelling and 3D Printing.

The Camp began on Saturday morning with a very busy registration desk followed by an inspirational keynote address by Bill Liao (co-founder of CoderDojo).  Then the sessions began with multiple workshops running concurrently with mentors getting stuck in with the kids – It had to be seen to be believed. The young coders went from session to session and absorbed as much information as they could. There were robots flying around the floor in the Aerobics room, teenagers crashed out on beanbags in the HTML hangout room working on their websites and gamers working on GameMaker in the Carbery Suite. The hotel was a hub of activity. Laptops everywhere. Some teenagers (and younger kids) also mentored which CoderDojo actively encourages. It’s all about sharing knowledge and working together. This is exactly what happened.

For parents there was no escape from learning what all this coding stuff is about with a session on “Scratch Programming for Grown-ups” and Deirdre Madden of UCC also gave a very insightful talk on Assistive Learning Technologies.

Later on in the evening as part of Science Week, a movie “Epic” was shown in the Park Cinema. This came as a welcome relief to some of the younger coders who needed some down time. “Epic” became the word of the day. The diehards continued with their 3D Minecraft modelling right up until the last minute. At 6pm the party started with James Whelton (co-founder) making a surprise appearance and teaching the attendees how to breakdance. The disco and partying went on till 8:30pm when some of the kids actually went home and finished working on their projects for the EXPO on Sunday morning.

CampCoderDojo EXPO took place on Sunday morning starting at 10pm. The young coders arrived early, setting up their laptops in the Carbery Suite to demonstrate their projects to parents, siblings, grandparents, invited guests, sponsors and dignitaries. Following introductory speeches by Margaret Deegan and Ann Donnelly, organisers of the event, Jim Costello (CEO, SouthWestern) congratulated the attendees on their immense achievements saying how he looked forward to these kids becoming potential employees of SouthWestern in the future. The Mayor of Clonakilty, Phil O’ Regan, followed expressing her amazement at the expertise of the CoderDojo kids. A number of kids then followed with short demos of their applications and projects. It was pretty cool!! Finally Bill closed the formalities with a presentation of USB wristbands (CoderDojo belts) to those who demo’ed and others who had actively mentored and contributed over the weekend.

As an aside, 29 local businesses got on board with a discount voucher scheme for attendees of the Camp to encourage them to shop in Clonakilty over the weekend while they were attending the Camp. As a final highlight and following the Expo, the West Cork Model Railway Village collected attendees from the Quality Hotel and took them on a tour of Clonakilty on the “Choo Choo”.

All in all the weekend was a massive success. The young coders had a ball, learnt loads and made lots of new friends. Mentors got an opportunity to work with mentors from other Dojos and parents got a real feel for what CoderDojo is about and the positive impact it is having on their children and our communities.

The organisers would like to thank all mentors who assisted so much at the Camp and all those who supported the event – SouthWestern and The Quality Hotel Clonakilty, McCarthy & Co. Solicitors, HighResolution Printer Cartridges and Office Supplies, Rapid Broadband, ScienceWeek,  The Model Railway Village, West Cork Sand Circles, Ummera Smoked Foods, Ballygowan/Britvic and all those who helped and supported us in any way.

CoderDojo Clonakilty continues every Friday at the Quality Hotel from 6:30pm-8:30pm. For more information go to http://coderdojowestcork.wordpress.com. Registration each week at http://coderdojoclonakity.eventbrite.com. If you are interested in mentoring at CoderDojo contact Margaret at [email protected] or Ann at [email protected].

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