CoderDojo Heroes: Garima Singh – CoderDojo Champion @ Round Rock, Texas

CoderDojo Heroes: Garima Singh – CoderDojo Champion @ Round Rock, Texas


Which Dojo are you from?

CoderDojo Round Rock located at TechShop, Austin, Texas, USA.

When and how did you get involved in CoderDojo?

I became interested in Computer Science only after taking a course in 10th grade. I wished then that I had had an exposure to it earlier on. I know that many people find coding intimidating or are not aware that it is a helpful skill in any field. I wanted to change this by educating kids and their parents and showing them that it can be fun and rewarding.

I saw that there were no regular, all year round learn-to-code opportunities available to youth (especially elementary and middle school ages) in my community and certainly not any that were free. While researching online, my mother and I came across CoderDojo. The CoderDojo philosophy of getting the community – kids, parents, educators, mentors from the tech industry – all together in one place and have them learn by doing, teaching and sharing appealed to me, so I decided to start a Dojo. After applying, securing a venue, and getting together a group of mentors, we started our Dojo on March 8, 2015.

What topics do you cover at your Dojo?

We started out with Scratch and that is what all kids (especially those under 12) still begin out with. We then introduced MIT App Inventor to allow them to develop apps while using a coding environment very similar to Scratch. Recently, we have also introduced HTML/CSS for older kids.

Describe what CoderDojo means to you in 3 words.

Collaborative, empowering, and exciting!

What is one of your favourite memories from your Dojo?

Every session of the Dojo is exciting as I watch the kids learn with and from each other. However, my favorite part is when our ninjas present their work from the session to all of the attendees and parents. It is amazing to see their creativity come to life! Many choose to tell stories with code. Some make creative games, useful apps and webpages. Sometimes, ninjas are inspired by others’ presentations and create their own versions of what they saw. That is very exciting, as we want them to have that urge and drive to create what they see and find cool.  

How would you encourage someone to set up their own Dojo?

A Dojo provides a unique, informal and collaborative environment for our youth to learn to code for free and interact with tech professionals. It benefits the kids, the mentors and the parents and ensures that there is a safe, fun place for our youth to be exposed to coding and tech skills, whether they choose to specialize in it or not. It is a wonderful service to the community and our youth, so I would highly encourage anyone to set up one of their own.

It is a very simple, easy and quick process to apply to be a Dojo Champion. Then, the slightly harder part is finding a good venue. Reach out to libraries, community centers, science centers, tech companies. You could also start a Dojo at a school or university campus. Once you have the venue finalized, it is useful to build a small website and get on to Twitter and Facebook to reach out to your local tech community and universities, if any, for volunteer mentors and also to publicize the Dojo to get attendees.

What advice would you give to all the young coders out there?

Keep going. There’s a learning curve to everything, including coding. When you try new things and push yourself past your comfort zone is when you encounter that learning curve, but only by overcoming it can you get better. Also, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. There are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about coding and coders, but you should see those as just another challenge to face or obstacle to overcome. Prove to people that you can be a coder without falling into the stereotypes (very few coders can actually be described accurately by those stereotypes). Most importantly, have fun and be cool!

Check out CoderDojo Round Rock here.

Read more about CoderDojo Heroes around the world


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