Creative kids set for CoderDojo Coolest Projects showcase

Hundreds of software and technology entries to be displayed in RDS summer exhibition


Having already won an award for creating a phone application to alert a parent to their child’s whereabouts should they go missing, 14-year-old Harvey Brezina Conniffe has his mind set on his next project.

“I like programming because you can make anything that you can think of - apps and stuff - and I find it fun,” Harry said.

The Wicklow student has more recently been working on a website-building tool which allows children to design their own pages, free of charge.

“This lets kids easily have a domain name and a website really quickly, and they can put anything that they can programme on the website.”

Harry was one of the schoolchildren who demonstrated their latest creations in Dublin on Tuesday in advance of this summer’s CoderDojo Coolest Projects awards, which will feature 800 technology projects made by children.

Founded by 18-year-old coder James Welton in Cork four years ago, there are now 900 CoderDojo clubs in 65 countries worldwide - but the Coolest Projects competition remains unique to Ireland.

Unfilled jobs

Some 10,000 people are expected to attend the event in the RDS in June, and organisers hope children developing ideas now will learn the technical skills required for some 500,000 posts that remain unfilled in the European software sector due to a lack of suitable candidates.

“Really for us it’s around the innovation, so we can actually create a generation that not only are going to solve the jobs shortages but maybe X per cent of them are going to be the next tech start-ups,” said CoderDojo Coolest Projects co-founder Noel King.

CoderDojo global chief executive Mary Moloney says while the majority of participants are male, girls are actively encouraged to bring friends to clubs to increase their exposure to what she believes is a fundamental skillset.

“We average quite high in terms of female mentorship as well. That’s really important to us because bringing kids into the world of technology is really important, and making sure they have exposure to grown-up women and older girls is a way of encouraging them,” she remarked.

‘I built this’

“They develop their swagger; you can almost see the facial expressions change when they say ‘I built this’. When a child can produce their first webpage on their own website after an hour, that confidence they get from it is huge and they feel like a creator,” she said.

Lexi Schoene (8), from Dublin, is hoping to make a big impact with her blog, which she has developed over the last two years using HTML and coding skills.

“My grandad got me into it. I thought it would be really boring at first but then my grandad said ‘Wow look at this’ and then I started pressing everything, and then I got into CoderDojo and I loved it,” she said.

CoderDojo Coolest Projects has a number of categories for different age and interest groups, and takes place in the RDS on Saturday, June 18th.