Coding for Kids

If Zuckerberg makes you feel depressed about your age you should probably stop reading now.

On stage at the WebSummit in Dublin yesterday were three young techie/entrepreneurs. Pep Gomez of FeverUp, Sujay Tyle of Scopely and James Whelton of Coder Dojo. Three very bright, very young men (all under 20) who are building a better world.

It was James Whelton who caught my attention, he explained that when he was at school he was bad at everything; sport, music, academics. The only thing he was good at was coding – but that wasn’t supported or recognised at school. He’s got a little bit famous for his coding skills while on a flight – he discovered and published a hack to get past Virgin’s pay-for-wifi setup.

So he left school, and started Coder Dojo, it’s an after school workshop where kids can go and learn to code. The stupidly simple answer to a problem that schools don’t have the expertise or resources to solve.

It’s now running all over Ireland and in 20 other countries, and not just wealthy western countries; Indonesia and Uganda have Coder Dojos. (If there isn’t one near you check the site – maybe you’ll get to start one.)

And just when I was getting over someone so young doing such cool stuff. He brought 4 children, average age 12 up on to the stage. They are fast becoming coding experts, one has already had a game top rank in iTunes. Take a look at Harry, the inventor of PizzaBot, age 12.

Kids are kids though, when the interviewer asked whether the top ranking and the sales in iTunes meant he could buy chocolate for all the girls at school he replied “well that’d be great, if there were any girls at my school”.

Given that technology runs the modern world more of the tech skills should be taught in schools. But of course there’s a long lead-time to make such a change. In the meantime there’s Coder Dojo.