Coder Dojo 'ninjas' learn and showcase new technology skills during Engineering Week

Coder Dojo 'ninjas' learn and showcase new technology skills during Engineering Week

In today's digital and innovative world, new skills and an inquisitive mind are as essential as knowledge of the more traditional subjects.

Earlier in the month, a series of nationwide events took place as part of 'Engineering Week', giving young people the opportunity to benefit from learning new technologies and concepts. The week aims to create a positive awareness and spark enthusiasm about the engineering profession.

CoderDojo Kilkenny saw this as a huge opportunity to get involved, and set up a series of engineering based workshops for their members, young people aged 7 – 17.

“In support of Engineers Week, we have worked hard as a team to provide a varied and enriched choice of options today to give everyone the chance to see technology and engineering working together to build, perform, control or animate,” said Pat Breen, mentor and organiser of the event.

During the afternoon, the CoderDojo Ninjas got the opportunity to spend time at six facilitated stations, where they explored with engineers. With the help of Diane, a professional animator from Glasseye Productions, ninjas drew computer characters and used software to create movement. Under mentors’ guidance they controlled an mBot robot, built a pattern of music and interacted timers, buttons and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), using Raspberry Pi software.

Ninjas were fascinated to see the workings of a computer.

One ninja, David, compared the components of a PC he had built with the parts of a laptop. They also listened to controls engineer, Tom Farmer, about Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), and were shown how computers, with the correct code and calibration, can successfully automate many industry processes such as dairy production and car manufacturing.

Mentors

CoderDojo Kilkenny are blessed to have mentors from different sectors of industry, including experienced programmers, technicians and engineers; a professional filmmaker, computing teachers and a cyber security engineer. The pool of mentors’ knowledge is vast and their weekly coding program reflects this.

The club offers ninjas the choice of educational languages SCRATCH, HTML and Python. A new phone App building course has been introduced recently.

Coder Dojo champion Annette O' Donnellsaid everyone was delighted to see the ninjas embrace other aspects of technology and real world concepts.

“I can say on behalf of the Dojo we are proud of the interest they have shown,” she said.

“Having seen the Ninjas respond so strongly to the Raspberry Pi and mBot stations, it is hoped that, with funding, it will be possible to make these technologies available to members.”

Rosanne O'Leary, National STEPS Team Leader for Engineers Ireland (Science, Technology and Engineering Programme for Schools), also came along and supported the event.

CoderDojo Kilkenny’s popularity continues to increase as Kieran Davin, registration and technical support coordinator, explains.

“Our numbers are around 60-70 per week with Ninjas all working on different software at various levels ever looking for new challenges and rewards,” he said.

To offer support, funding or sponsorship to CoderDojo Kilkenny, or for more information, contact coderdojokilkenny@gmail.com