CoderDojo kids display their skills

They are the computer programmers of tomorrow who are hardwired to succeed.

The kids attending one of Cork’s biggest CoderDojo clubs have showcased their work at a major expo.

And the volunteer mentors behind Clonakilty’s CoderDojo have encouraged computer and IT experts and local businesses across the region to help spread the Irish- founded movement, which has now been embraced by Silicon Valley.

“You can write as many policy documents as you want but the CoderDojo movement is one of the most tangible things that has ever been done to develop it — and it’s completely free,” Margaret Deegan said.

She is one of five volunteer mentors who run the West Cork town’s CoderDojo, which held its first showcase on Friday night.

CoderDojo co-founder Bill Liao and one of the movement’s biggest supporters, MEP Seán Kelly, attended, viewing websites on butterflies and dolphins, a computer game based on Clonakilty’s Jungle City initiative, and several apps.

Mr Kelly will host the first CoderDoJo event in the European Parliament on Jan 29.

The movement runs free computing coding clubs for young people, where they learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs and games in a fun environment. Up to 40 young people, aged seven to 14, gather in a room provided free by the Quality Hotel every Friday evening.

Ms Deegan said the clubs are so easy to establish: “You just need a few people to organise it, along with a venue.”

CoderDojo was founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao after James, a former pupil of Presentation Brothers College in Cork, hit the headlines in early 2011 for hacking the iPod Nano.

Some of his school-mates expressed an interest in learning how to code so James set up a computer club in school and started teaching basic HTML and CSS.

Later that year he met Liao, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was interested in expanding the project. Together they launched the first CoderDojo in June 2011 in Cork’s National Software Centre.

There are now dozens of CoderDojo chapters around Ireland and the movement has spread globally, with Microsoft’s global headquarters in Silicon Valley holding a CoderDojo in October.

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