CoderDojo Mentor Catrina talks Java, GCSEs and Coolest Projects

We recently asked Catrina of Coderdojo DCU about her experience as a young coder turned CoderDojo mentor and the recent use of her music app in the UK for the GCSEs!

  • Hi, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Catrina. I’m 17 years old and in fifth year [studying for her A-levels / SAT’s]. I’ve attended CoderDojo DCU since summer 2012 and I’ve been a mentor at CoderDojo Girls in DCU since last summer. I’ve learnt everything I know from the different JavaScript games we work on and making projects for the Coolest Projects.

  • What got you interested in coding?

I never really knew anything about coding. I assumed making a website was a highly complicated process done completely in binary. In the summer of 2012, my brother went to a CoderDojo session and showed me a webpage he made that day. I realised that coding wasn’t as complicated as I had thought and I wanted to try myself, so the next week, I went with him.

  • How do you find being a CoderDojo Mentor?

Mentoring is quite different but I learn just as much from it. Everyone makes the same mistakes, like forgetting a semi-colon and it can be really helpful to get used to recognising them. My favourite part of mentoring is teaching beginners basic HTML and CSS. I remember how exciting it was for me to make my first webpage and I hope I can help people who come to CoderDojo for the first time to see that coding really isn’t that hard.

  • What do you love about coding?

I love that you can do almost anything with coding. It’s an artform. If there’s something you want to do, if you’re willing to try, you can do it.

  • What’s your favourite coding language?

Javascript. It’s the language I use the most.

  • Tell us a little about your experience building Apps.

Once again, its not as hard as I thought it would be. Its great that you don’t have to publish your app to put it on your phone, which is something I didn’t realise.

  • What do you use to build Apps?

When I made an app, I put my code into PhoneGap to make it. It’s great because it gives you a QR code you can use to download your app. I only found out about MIT AppInventor recently when we were using it at CoderDojo girls. It seems to be a great simple way to make an app, so I’ll definitely be trying it out more soon.  

  • Tell us a little about your experience at the Coolest Projects.

I’ve entered Coolest Projects twice. Both times were great. The first year Coolest Projects was quite small but it was brilliant. That year I entered my music project. Thanks to help from Noel King and Intel, it’s now being used in the UK for the GCSEs.

  • What advice would you give to young people about learning to code?

Don’t be afraid of not knowing how to do it. Learning how to google what you don’t know is one of the most important things you’ll ever do.

I’d like to thank Catrina for taking the time to chat with me. You can watch a recent Silicon Republic interview with Catrina here. We wish you good luck in your future coding endeavours. Speaking of which, Catrina and Jake, both from Coderdojo DCU, recently released their own Android game “The Cork City Race Game” that is now available free from the Play Store!

The Cork City Race Game

This is a fun and creative game the aim of which is to race with a friend to the finish line. On the way, your points will increase and decrease according to your location. Some places have poor internet and some no internet at all, so it all depends where you are! The game is one of two versions developed, one for Cork and one for Dublin, for the Apps4Gaps.ie competition using CSO data and races from Dojos around Cork to where the first CoderDojo was founded at NSC. Awesome! Get the Cork City Race Game

Coolest Projects Awards

Each year at the Coolest Projects members of the Coderdojo community get together and present projects they’ve been working on in their Dojo with their peers. The event aims to promote and encourage creativity (seen above) within the CoderDojo community. The cool ideas created by the community members are inspirational and you never know, you could be developing the next big thing!

Register Your Cool Idea

Mentor interviews