Boys and girls as young as 11 are learning web, app and coding skills at Derry Coderdojo – a free club which is officially launched today (Saturday 1st September) in the Millennium Forum as part of the Culture Tech Fest.
The club is part of a growing international network of Coderdojos which were founded in Ireland by Cork teenager James Whelton and entrepreneur Bill Liao, says co-ordinator and parent, Trish Hegarty. All teaching is delivered by volunteer mentors and the club is hosted by Digital Derry and Inis Communications and sponsored by BT, who have just donated 5 Netbooks to the club.
The club got off the ground before the summer and is holding a special session on computer games today. Regular meetings resume on Saturday 22nd September at Derry Coderdojo’s new venue in the University of Ulster at Magee.
Digital Derry Champion Mark Nagurski says it’s vital to encourage interest and skills in computer coding amongst young people if Derry is to develop and sustain digital industries to their full potential. “We are delighted that the computing department at the University of Ulster, Magee, are providing a venue and its also very positive for the club’s young members to be working with the university.”
“Coderdojo is a great initiative for young people and we are delighted to be involved by offering our full support at the launch of Coderdojo in the North West,” says BT Corporate Services Director, Peter Morris. “Communication is at the core of everything we do and we firmly believe in the importance of, not only delivering a next generation fibre broadband infrastructure, but also providing access to the key skills needed for the ever increasing advances in our digital world.”
The club already has over 25 members – who come from Derry and Donegal. “Web and app developers Michael Flanagan and Ryan McDermott, Strabane teacher and ICT co-ordinator Damien McHugh, and IT programmer and executive Dominic Kay keep the club going by providing the teaching,” says Trish. “They have mapped out an excellent content programme for the autumn, which includes visual programming, Android app development and Java”,” she adds.