Talking hospital doll among winners at CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2017

20 Jun 2017

Niall Christian O’Farrell (10) from Cork with his robot Nico at CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2017. Image: Kenneth O’Halloran

A talking, friendly hospital doll for children was just one of the winners at this year’s CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2017 in Dublin.

Fresh from its recent partnership with fellow coding philanthropist group Raspberry Pi Foundation, CoderDojo held its inaugural Coolest Projects event in the RDS in Dublin on 17 June.

More than 800 kids and young people aged from six to 17, from 17 different countries, attended to present the projects they created at their local CoderDojos.

Typically, many of the projects were wide-ranging in scope, but almost all were focused on trying to make a difference in the world, be that helping the impoverished around the globe, or trying to protect various aspects of the environment.

While dozens of projects went on to win awards, some noticeable winners included 10-year-old Aoibheann Mangan from Tuam, Co Galway, who won first place on the Innovation Stage for her project, Hospital Holly and Henry.

This involved building a Scratch story interface within a doll that children in hospitals can interact with. When they press buttons on the doll, it will tell them what they need to know about tests either they or someone else is undergoing, such as taking bloods or getting an x-ray.

Other project winners included 15-year-old Belgian student Jeroen De Vos, whose Welcome Here app helps refugees settle in a new country by providing basic information about their new home.

Benjamin Murray

Benjamin Murray (11) from Ballinteer, Dublin with his project CodeMaker Buddy. Image: Kenneth O’Halloran

‘Creativity, innovation and pure skill’

Meanwhile, 12-year-old Amy Cunningham from Dunlavin, Co Wicklow did enough to impress the judges to be named runner-up in both the Hardware and Future Maker award categories for her project, Amy’s Buzzy Hive.

The internet of things project created by Cunningham places sensors within a beehive to track its numbers and alert a station when its population is dying off, to try and discover the cause.

The youngest category winner on the day was seven-year-old Arran King from Dublin, who was awarded first place in the Scratch under-eights category for his game, Breadboy. In the game, you help Breadboy navigate through various levels while avoiding the deadly strawberry jam traps.

Speaking of all the winners, CoderDojo Foundation’s executive director, Giustina Mizzoni, said: “The creativity, innovation and pure skill that was on display by the young people from Dojos all across the world was utterly inspiring.

“Saturday’s CoderDojo Coolest Projects was a true showcase of the impact that the CoderDojo movement, powered by thousands of volunteers, is having on youth globally.”

You can check out the full list of winners here.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic