By @SimonCocking

We happy to bring you an interview with the extremely busy Mary Moloney @marydunph, CoderDojo’s CEO and evangelist for bringing technology opportunities to as many young people as possible worldwide. You can catch her speaking at the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG)’s Silicon Valley Global Tech Summit, taking place in Dublin on 26 May 2015.

What’s your background?

A former partner at Accenture, with 20+ years including operating at C-level for Irish and International organisations, I joined the CoderDojo Foundation team in June 2014 to take up the role of Global CEO.

I look after all of CoderDojo’s operations for delivering growth worldwide. CoderDojo currently operates 700+ free of charge coding clubs in 57 countries around the world reaching approximately 30,000 young people aged from 7 to 17 on a regular basis.

Tell us about CoderDojo

We aim to give kids and young people all over the world better access to the magic behind the technology that surrounds us and touches almost everything that we do in our lives. CoderDojo is a global community of free programming clubs for young people.

CoderDojo clubs (Dojos) run all over the world by dedicated, committed, generous volunteers, mostly on a weekly basis, giving young people the opportunity to learn how to develop computer code, websites, apps, programs, games, digital media and to explore technology.

When did it start?

Co-founded in 2011 in Cork by, then 17 year old, James Whelton and philanthropist Bill Liao. In 4 short years there are now over 640+ Dojos spread across 57 countries around the world ranging from places such as the UK, Nigeria, Japan, Ireland and the USA.

CoderDojo encourages and facilitates the community in sharing learning experiences, resources and knowledge and gives attendees, champions, mentors and parents a sense of community.

Our vision is a world where every child and young person has the opportunity to build technology skills, learn to code and to be creative in a safe and social environment. Empowering and opening up opportunities for young people is at the core of what we do.

We are committed to being diverse and fully inclusive, being free of charge is one element of that, encouraging all young people to participate is another dimension.

What are the future plans for CoderDojo

The movement has more than doubled in size and has reaches 34 new countries, extending the reach of the Irish founded movement to a total of 57 countries.

Operating over 700  Dojos is great but our mission is to continue to rapidly grow our global open source volunteer network of affiliated and inclusive coding clubs, where all young people are given the opportunity to create technology in a safe and social environment. Through 2015 we’ll be strengthening the tools and content available to the community and will be supporting new champions starting Dojos all over the world on a weekly basis.

We’d ideally like to have Dojos active in every country in the world so that all children get to participate in technology actively and are empowered through the technology and interpersonal skills that they develop.

While we focus on helping kids and young people to learn how to code, at Dojos they also get great introductions to new hardware and software and get the opportunity to be creative with tools like, robots, drones, wearable technologies, 3-D printing and virtual reality products. The internet of things is something that the younger generation experience first hand and accept as the new technology reality.

I’m also delighted to see the cost of entry for hardware reducing significantly with products like the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Galileo boards and the $9 computer becoming more readily available, these will influence the democratisation of the internet and will remove the cost barrier for getting people more engaged with technology.

It’s a real privilege to be a part of the CoderDojo movement. Every day I hear from kids, young people, their parents and our incredible volunteers around the world. They share wonderful stories about the impact that the movement is having on young people around the world. Some of our young people are building incredible tools to tackle big social challenges like; dyslexia, disability, obesity, protecting the environment, childhood stress etc. For others they’re building enterprise solutions and new coding languages. But no matter what they’re building, all of the kids are building confidence in technology and themselves. 

Tell us about the Coolest Projects initiative?

I’m really excited about our upcoming Coolest Projests event on June 13th in the RDS in Dublin. 500+ young coders from Ireland and around the world will fly in to the biggest Coolest Projects Awards yet at the RDS to showcase their IT skills. Expect cool apps, games, websites, robots, drones and ‘hacks’ to make our lives run better.

Coolest Projects 2015 offers our community of young coders the chance to submit individual or group projects using their creativity and skills with computer languages and hardware to build cool apps, games, websites and robots. It is the largest global event of its kind.

Previous winners of Coolest Projects included 10-year old Lauren (currently EU Digital Girl of the year), Thomas (Robot creator), and 12-year old Niamh, who last year built an app to allow users of electric cars find free charging points and see whether or not they are currently available.

The awards are open to all projects created by CoderDojo members. An new “Evolution” category has been included this year to cater for young people with very sophisticated projects incorporating advaned coding languages or hardware or software.

How many participants are girls?

Shirking the trends experienced in other tech related events, 30% of the young coders participating, are girls.

What is the cost to attend?

In line with CoderDojo’s philosophies, the event itself is also fully inclusive, neither the participants or attendees will have to pay to attend. The event is also open to those outside of the direct CoderDojo community, so that they can better understand how the movement operates and how they can get involved. Younger people attending will be inspired to seek out opportunities to build tech skills when they see and experience what their peers are capable of!

 

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