More than 200 coding mentors and 40 kid coders will gather in Drogheda and Slane this weekend for DojoCon, the conference exclusively for mentors of the international programming club CoderDojo.
The only international conference for mentors, DojoCon 2013 will provide mentors from across the globe the opportunity to exchange new ideas, explore cutting-edge technologies and share ideas on sustaining and strengthening the CoderDojo movement.
The event, which will see mentors from over 10 countries and almost every county in Ireland attend has keynotes from Jerry Kennelly, Bill Liao and will be chaired by Disney Vice-President, Una Fox, a mentor from CoderDojo LA.
The theme of the event is to encourage more mentors and encourage collaboration and exchange of ideas. Paul Browne, one of the organisers explains, “There are over 180 coding clubs over the world. We’ve come through an amazing growth phase with CoderDojo - it’s really met a need out there. To make it sustainable, we need to share what works, while keeping the buzz that has made it so successful.”
Unique Gender Balance
The conference is unique in that it has a 50/50 gender balance in terms of speakers. Getting girls into code is another theme of the conference. One of the keynote speakers is Kimberly Bryant who set up Black Girls Code, an organisation that compliments CoderDojo. She will share with the CoderDojo mentors her experience of encouraging girls into the world of coding and programing.
Bryant continues, “By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills to at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. That, really, is the Black Girls Code mission: to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.”
Rockstars of the Future
The main beneficiaries of CoderDojo are the children themselves. Over 16,000 kids, aged from 7-17 have attended a CoderDojo with the number rising every week. There will be a specific panel featuring young talented coders from several local dojos. They will discuss what they really want to learn about, what learning techniques have worked for them in the past and what they think works or doesn't work in CoderDojo currently.
Graham O'Rourke concludes, "Most active Dojos are at capacity e.g. both Drogheda and Dundalk are full with waiting lists of 2-3 times the numbers we can accommodate on any given Saturday. If we had more mentors from industry get involved locally we could reach more kids. I would love to see this and experiment with Dojo for different age groups, skill sets, economic backgrounds and genders to see what would work best in attracting and keeping kids in CoderDojo."
The Conference starts on Friday evening in Drogheda and continues into Slane Castle on Saturday.
The keynotes from DojoCon 2013 will be streamed live on http://conference.coderdojo.com and coderdojo.com.
The DojoCon 2013 has been organised by CoderDojo volunteers (Drogheda, Dundalk, Dublin, Limerick and Navan) who are committed to the success of CoderDojo and the conference that they have given their time voluntarily for the past 6 months. They would like to thank the many sponsors involved including Hello World Foundation, RTE Digital, Louth County Enterprise Board and Lord Henry of Slane Castle who is giving use of the Castle.