Ruth and Alina (ninja) from IBM Research Triangle Park CoderDojo talks about their Dojo and badging!

Please meet Ruth, she is the Champion of her local Dojo at IBM Research Triangle Park in the US! Ruth and Alina (Youth mentor) have written this blog to share their experience of their Dojo.


When I entered my 30th year working for IBM, I went part-time as part of a Transition to Retirement Program. Since my upcoming retirement was no secret, I was often asked “What are you going to do in retirement?”. My standard response was laugh and say “float in the pool”. When pushed, I would remind folks I had a 10 year old boy, and ask “if I hadn’t come back to work after my son was born, would you ask me what I was doing?

This was enough to make the question go away except for that nagging voice inside me. What was I going to do? All my retired friends are active volunteers working on great causes, but none that felt right for me. About that time, I started flipping through a Society for Women Engineers magazine. Not surprising, there was an article on the lack of female engineers and how few women were graduating with Computer Science degrees. However, I was surprised by the chart showing that women receiving CS degrees had actually peaked in 1985 and been declining ever since. This was like a slap in the face to me, a 1985 CS graduate! While I’d been having a wonderful career, I couldn’t help feeling perhaps I hadn’t given back as much as I needed to encourage the next generation to follow.

So, I started looking at what organizations and resources were in place for encouraging girls into computer science. I found out about CoderDojo through IBM colleagues in Ireland and various US location, and the more I heard, the more impressed I was. Though I had no experience working with kids, and had hardly programmed in 30 years, I took to heart the comment, “Just start a Dojo, you’ll never regret it”.

CoderDojo RTP opened in Nov 2015, two months before my retirement, and I love every session. I am so proud of all the kids, and proudly recognized five of my original founding kids (Alina, Avery, Isaiah, Tucker, and Jolie) who recently surpassed the 25! Though I could ramble on and on about these amazing kids, we thought you’d enjoy hearing more about CoderDojo RTP from one of the founding kids, Alina.  

Alina: 

CoderDojo is one of my favourite things to do each week. Every other Sunday, my brother and I look forward to going to IBM to code. At IBM, where the CoderDojo is hosted, you can earn badges. To earn a badge you have to complete a set of activities to demonstrate your knowledge on a certain topic. For an example, to obtain a Scratch (a coding website for beginners) beginner badge, you must create an animation, a project that involves motion, one that involves look and sound, use the variables block in Scratch, and accomplish a challenge (i.e. making a quiz). Once you earn a badge you get a physical badge to hang on your lanyard. The more experience you have, the more badges you have on your lanyard. 

 

There are many different badges that you can earn. Most people start out with their beginner Scratch badge, and then work their way up to their Python and Minecraft badges (yes, Minecraft). For different badges, you will be able to make your own website using HTML and Javascript, code a parent detector machine using Raspberry Pi, and create a guess the number game with Python.

At the end of each session there is a drawing. Using Python, the computer will randomly pull a name from the list of all of the kids names. If your name is pulled then you get a prize. Every early November, (the birthday of our CoderDojo), there is a big drawing for cool prizes such as a webcam and a solar charger. It is awesome to have your name drawn, especially on an Early November.

My favourite thing to do is probably Scratch. With Scratch, you can create just about anything. One thing that I made was a quiz to determine which Greek God you were. Also, I made a book trailer using Scratch to animate the characters. I have seen games on Scratch that are more addictive than video games. There are also copies of other games that make them more fun or hard. All in all, there are many fun things to do at CoderDojo. I hope to see you join!

 


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Lin says

Awesome blog Ruth and Alina! We have been so happy with the coderdojo club.

Shikha says

Great Blog, My son loves Coder Dojo and so do I.
Ruth, thanks so much for driving this.

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