Tomorrow, June 18th, more than 800 young innovators from across Ireland and western Europe will take part in the fifth annual CoderDojo Coolest Projects Awards which will be held at the RDS in Dublin and is expected to attract more than 10,000 spectators to witness demonstrations of the apps, websites, animation, games and robots among this year’s submissions.
The CoderDojo Coolest Projects Awards are unique in Europe, have been embraced by the EU, and were established as a competition and exhibition to create, support and inspire a generation of innovators, creators and entrepreneurs aged from 7 to 17.
Intel co-founded the Coolest Projects and has witnessed its enormous growth from just 15 entries in 2012 to an anticipated 500+ entries this year. Intel is delighted to once again be involved as a sponsor of this year’s Coolest Projects with a particular focus on the Hardware category at the event.
As we look toward tomorrow’s event we asked Intel scholar, and long time CoderDojo, Catrina Carrigan to share her thoughts on the ever growing Dojo movement and the Coolest projects event. Catrina is currently completing a summer long work placement in the Internet of Things group at Intel’s campus in Leixlip, Co. Kildare.
I’m always surprised when people ask “Code a what?” after I mention CoderDojo. It has become such a huge part of my life that it’s easy for me to forget not everybody knows what it is. CoderDojo is an open source, volunteer led movement of free coding clubs for 7 to 17 year olds. Every Dojo is different based on the skills of the mentors, but scratch, web design, app development and game development are popular options.
I’ve spend almost every Saturday of the last four years over in the canteen in DCU, first as an attendee and later as a mentor in CoderDojo.
I joined CoderDojo in the summer of 2012, just after my junior cert, because my brother came home with his own website after his first week. I needed to learn how to do it, too! After a few weeks of learning the basics of HTML and CSS, Noel King announced that later that year we would be going to Intel for the Coolest Projects Awards. For the next few months instead of following a class and all making the same game, we were all given free range to use the skills we’d learned and create anything we wanted.
Preparing for Coolest Projects is definitely one of the best parts of CoderDojo. It’s the time when you learn the most by working on an idea you’re passionate about. You can really push yourself to figure out how to do new things, all at your own pace.
I entered the first Coolest Projects awards in 2012. It was held in a small room in Intel where I was one of 15 projects. Since then the awards have grown exponentially. This year there will be about 700 projects and 10,000 attendees. Unfortunately, I’m too old to enter this year, but I’m excited to be volunteering with the social media team on the day. The event has become almost a tech version of Young Scientist, but in many ways it is more inclusive and I would argue, even better! Any CoderDojo ninja can enter and display at project at the awards, where they will have a chance to talk about their work to the judges and visitors. Talks, workshops and even T.V. screens showing the match ensure that nobody will get bored. Although there are prizes and winners, that really isn’t an important part. Everyone who participates will get a belt (a wrist band with a USB stick in it) presented to them and a chance to stand on stage.
Four years of entering Coolest Projects has definitely had a positive effect on me. Talking to judges and answering their questions is great preparation for interviews and public speaking. I’ve made friends and met so many inspiring people because of the awards and as cheesy as it sounds, I know my life would be completely different if I had never entered.
To find out more about the Coolest Project awards visit http://coolestprojects.org/.
If you would like to find out more about becoming an Intel Women in Technology scholar visit www.intel.ie/womenintechnology.
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