By @SimonCocking. Ahead of the upcoming Coolest Projects event on June 18th we spoke to Wayne Murphy to find out more about CoderDojo, a great initiative helping to teach children about coding. Wayne is a Coderdojo champion (someone who sets up their own dojo) / a supporter and volunteer. He runs his own Coderdojo in Midleton cork whith 30-40 kids coding every week 🙂 He also originally attended dojo 0 (the 1st dojo) with Bill Liao.

Coder Dojo give us a brief background please Wayne?

CoderDojo is a global movement which was originally founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao. It all started in James Whelton’s school in Cork in early 2011 when James (then an 18 year-old coder) received some publicity after hacking the iPod Nano. As as a result some younger students expressed an interest in learning how to code thinking his “hacking” of the iPod Nano was pretty cool. He set up a computer club in his school (PBC Cork) where he started teaching students basic HTML and CSS. However as he left the school he realised that there was nobody to continue this “computer club” in his absence and decided that he needed to do something about it. Later that year he met Bill Liao, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was so impressed with what this young guy had achieved in such a short space of time and the incredible interest in this initiative and sought to help grow the project into the global phenomenon it is today. Thus Coderdojo was born.

In July 2011 the first CoderDojo was launched in the National Software Centre in Cork (IE)! The Cork Dojo originally saw people travelling from as far away as Dublin frequently to attend sessions. Owing to its popularity, James and Bill open sourced the model and encouraged growth. Soon after a Dublin Dojo (IE) was launched, followed by more clubs across Ireland, before expanding outside the region. Through making the movement open source, thousands of dedicated Champions and Mentors have now set up more Dojos across the world, making the CoderDojo movement a truly global phenomenon. As of June 2016 there are now over 1000+ verified Dojos in 63 countries with over 40,000 kids learning to code and this number is growing at an incredible rate everyday. Such is its popularity that Dojos have been held in Buckingham Place, the Dail and Coderdojo took centre stage at the recent World Economic Forum at Davos where the Will.iam and Bono were blown away by the incredible coding talent on show. See more here.

What tips would you give to people coming to a Coder Dojo?

Firstly check out where your local Coderdojo is and reach out and contact the local champion. If there is no local dojo why not consider becoming a Coderdojo Champion and opening up your own Coderdojo!! (there is so much help support advice and direction to assist you in this process @ coderdojo.org). For new kids seeking to join their local Coderdojo (ideally aged 7-17) all that is required is a laptop and away they go. Be patient, learning to code is like learning a new language but kids have such a capacity to understand and learn this new language that before long they will be building websites, creating apps and having hours and hours of incredibly creative fun.

What is coming up for Coder Dojo?

On June 18th CoderDojo is taking over the RDS Dublin with the incredible CoolestProjects.org Awards.

These awards were created in 2012 to deliver and support the following principles:

  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • The introduction and showcasing of different aspects of STEM education through coding.

The Coolest Projects awards are unique in Europe and were established on a voluntary basis by a number of industry professionals as both a competition and exhibition to support and inspire a generation of innovators, creators and entrepreneurs aged from 7 to 17. The awards, which are now in their fourth year, create a unique platform for young people to develop a broad set of digital abilities by offering them the opportunity to showcase the skills they have learned at CoderDojo.

These digital skills are vital if Ireland, and indeed Europe, is to address the coding skills shortage which has led to in excess of 500,000 open job postings across the continent in 2015.

Coolest Projects has seen young people deliver projects across the latest technologies, from Cloud, to Internet of Things (IoT) to Virtual Reality and has the potential to drive vital digital skills across a European platform.

This year’s Coolest Projects awards will feature over 800 entries from young people across Ireland and beyond and will attract more than 10,000 attendees to witness demonstrations of this year’s submissions.

Although the showcase event is held in Ballsbridge, the awards are a Europe-wide event, with participants from the UK, Poland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Romania and Turkey.

Coolest Projects awards is an eight-month-long event and this month local centres around the country will begin to engage with the event and support project development in their weekly sessions.

How does the support of companies like Software Placements help?

Coderdojo is a not for profit organisation. The support of amazing companies like Software Placements who have a very tangible interest in helping to develop and create more “coders” in the future is so vitally important. Their kind sponsorship helped celebrate the launch of Coderdojo’s recognition and rewards system and also helped launch the USB Belt Guidelines and badges on the new Zen. USB Belts and Digital Badges are part of the CoderDojo reward system and their aim is to encourage young people to continue to be creative and enhance their coding and soft skills further.  These USB Belts are awarded when our young “ninja” coders meet criteria set by the Dojo. They can be awarded white, yellow, blue, orange, green, silver and even cool black belts!

Software Placements support facilitated the giving away of 10 Starter Packs of Coloured USB Belts (a starter pack consisted of 20 Belts of a variety of colours) to Dojos all across the globe!  All verified Dojos worldwide were eligible to enter this competition. Software Placements contribution will have helped motivate and encourage many coding “ninjas” to learn new skills, ideas and increase their confidence in their own abilities to be creative and passionate about tech and coding. Support from companies like Software Placements is vital to help fund and support local dojos and also the incredible initiatives led by the totally amazing Coderdojo team led by CEO Mary Moloney. More hereA big thanks and shout out to Michael, Steve and all the team at Software Placements for their incredible support of Coderdojo.


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