Coolest Projects: Empowering girls to be tech creators
In many countries far fewer women than men study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects and work in these fields. Across 35 European countries, less than one in five computer science graduates is a woman. At the CoderDojo Foundation, we believe it is vitally important that we band together and make a conscious, consistent, and collaborative effort to increase the number of girls who have the opportunity to learn how to create with technology. Through learning to code at their local Dojo, girls develop skills such logical thinking, problem-solving, communication, mentoring, and teamwork. Regardless of what they grow up to be or do, these skills will be useful for them in the future.
Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that empowers and inspires young digital creators, innovators and entrepreneurs. Last year, 34% of participants at the event were girls. The projects they built solved social problems related to education, health, and the environment.
Before you attend Coolest Projects International on Saturday 26 May, meet some of the inspiring role models who have entered in previous years.
Aoibheann has been a Ninja and youth mentor at two Dojos in her local area in the west of Ireland: Cloghans Hill and Robeen. At last years event, when she was 11, Aoibheann won the Openet Innovation prize for building a Scratch project called Hospital Holly+Henry, which she designed to help children who were experiencing a hospital visit for the first time.
In 2017 Aoibheann was also awarded the prestigious award of European Digital Girl of the Year in the 11–14 age category, and she has delivered workshops at high-profile events, including Mozfest in the UK. “I especially love and encourage girls to use technology” Aoibheann noted on winning the award.
Amy is a Ninja at Dunlavin Dojo in Wicklow. She was 12 when she attended Coolest Projects 2017. Her project, Amy’s Buzzy Hive, was centred around saving the bee population, and involved placing a multi-sensored Raspberry Pi inside a beehive in order to track bee numbers and identify the causes for their declining numbers.
Amy prototyped her idea amongst live bees! She was awarded with the runner-up prize in the Future Makers category for her ingenuity in addressing an environmental issue.
One of Amy’s favourite moments from Coolest Projects 2017 was meeting some prominent role models and well-known community members: “I’m so happy to have met Philip Colligan, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation; Tiera Guinn, a NASA rocket scientist; and James Whelton, Co-founder of CoderDojo.”
Tayra is a Ninja at the Weda Dojo, Bulgaria. She was the winner in the Scratch category at Coolest Projects last year. Tayra was 8 years old when she took part in Coolest Projects 2017 with her awesome project ABCD Code, which is a Scratch game developed to help children learn about healthy eating and the benefits of fruit and vegetables.
Coolest Projects was an unforgettable experience for Tayra. Her advice to young people who are thinking of registering this year is: “to give strength to their imagination, to believe in themselves, and to seek through their projects to help at least one person in need, or to try to solve a small part of a social problem — to try briefly through their projects to be useful.”
Come and see the incredible projects built by Aoibheann, Amy, Tayra, and even more girls who are changing the face of technology.
Tickets for the Coolest Projects International showcase in the RDS, Dublin, on Saturday 26 May 2018 are are free for all those under 18, and €11.15 for adults.