CoderDojo Youths: How Laura loves building robots with friends

Laura, who is 11 years old, joined her local CoderDojo club five years ago in Kinsale. Here, Laura tells us her story, highlighting the importance of parental support and doing projects she loved. This post is part of our CoderDojo Girls Initiative. Dojos striving to reach gender parity can sign up to receive our Empowering the future guide along with other resources for free here.


I joined CoderDojo when I was six because my dad was one of the Mentors and he wanted me to start coding. I didn’t know anything about computer programming but, when I started the club, I loved it. I was programming in Scratch for the first two years and when I started Python and JavaScript, I really enjoyed them. I’ve been using those languages in lots of projects since.

I like building things from odd bits and pieces and coding them to make them do what I want. That’s really what I enjoy most of all, that you can make anything and make it do anything. I love the hardware part of it, the building and designing, most of all, and then afterwards I like to do the coding in Python.

 

Getting into robotics

My friend Amy McWey and I both did CoderDojo, so last year we thought we would do a project together. We decided to make a hovercraft which we made from wood, spare electronic parts and motors and controlled it with a Raspberry Pi with software written in Python. We hacked a Wii remote, used a Bluetooth dongle and connected the remote to the Raspberry Python to control the hovercraft. We made a lot of noise in the CoderDojo competition because no one else was doing the same thing we were doing. We were runners-up in the hardware category with 92 other teams in the category, which was so exciting and something we didn’t expect.

This year, I’m working with my friend Aoife Donohoe on a Drawing SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm). It’s a drawing robot controlled by a Raspberry Pi with software written in Python. We wrote code to make it draw shapes with its arm, like squares and circles, or it can draw more complex pictures. We can also control the arm’s movement with a Wii Remote with Bluetooth.

Working together

Friends from my class are in CoderDojo, which is great, because I get to learn coding and do projects with my friends. That’s always much more fun than doing it by myself. I definitely plan to continue in CoderDojo when I start secondary school in September

I’d like to do something in programming in the future with robots or computers because I have those skills now. I started off early and I got a lot of encouragement from my parents. This was really important. Being in CoderDojo means I get to work with other girls like me, which means there are more girls in STEM and that’s always a good thing.

Her mother Theresa notes:

CoderDojo has given Laura the skills to consider a career in Robotic Engineering or Computer Science. CoderDojo has given her the opportunity to work with other likeminded girls thus increasing female involvement in STEM.”

 


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