Programmer James Whelton leads CoderDojo session for youths at Dell in Dublin

25 Jun 2012

James Whelton, CEO and founder, CoderDojo, and sisters Daisy (4) and Alana Costello (6) at Dell in Dublin

Teenage programmer James Whelton, co-founder of the CoderDojo youth coding movement in Ireland, led a coding session for more than 30 children of Dell employees at the computing giant’s site in Cherrywood, Co Dublin, on Saturday.

The youths who took part in the coding class were aged between seven and 16.

As the not-for-profit CoderDojo nears its one-year anniversary, what started in Cork last summer when Whelton came up with the idea after finishing his Leaving Cert, has spawned into a global movement of free coding clubs where kids can learn the fundamentals of writing software code, plus programming languages, such as Scratch and Java.

In addition to coding clubs springing up all over Ireland since 2011, local volunteers have since set up clubs in countries such as Italy, the US, the UK, Brazil, Slovenia, Uganda and India.

Speaking at Dell on Saturday, Whelton said it was great to be continuously growing CoderDojo. “Today I’m at Dell’s campus, tomorrow I may be in a school in Cork, and next week in Japan!”

He said that working with such a mix of young people from all over Ireland and now all over the globe means the sessions never get boring.

At Dell’s Dublin campus, volunteers from the company helped mentor the students during the coding lesson on Saturday.

Whelton said the aim is to encourage employees to pass on their interest in technology to as many young people as possible in a fun and easy-going environment.

“By embracing coding in this way, young people will consider this skill to be one as vital as talking and writing words,” he said.

Dell Ireland’s general manager Dermot O’Connell said the company decided to host the event as it wanted to introduce the youths to the power of coding from an early age, with the aim of demystifying this element of technology for them.

“Regardless of what work our young people do later in life it is clear that technology will have a role to play across all sectors, whether they work as a teacher, a doctor, financial sector, fashion designer or a scientist,” said O’Connell.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic