We were delighted to have Niamh Scanlon, EU Digital Girl of the Year 2015, join us at the Accenture The Dock, Dublin in the summer. Sharing a passion and commitment to coding with CoderDojo and STEM subjects at school, Niamh reflects on why coding matters, her involvement with CoderDojo and experience as EU Digital Girl of the Year.
“How many times do you use computer technology in a day? Every time you check your smartphone or look up an online map or website or play an electronic game, computer code is letting you do that. Coding is something we probably don’t think much about as we use its products, but for me writing computer code has opened up new ways to create.
That was all far from my mind when I was younger. I would play games on tablets and use websites, but I never knew what went on behind the scenes for making these games that I would use. This all changed when I went to CoderDojo in Dublin City University, aged 9. I learned how to build a really simple website and change the background colour and images on the screen. Since then I’ve loved coding and making things with tech.
I’ve made a few different apps and websites with the skills I’ve learned from CoderDojo. One of them, reCharge My eCar, is an app to help the drivers of electric cars find all the car charging points in Ireland, and whether they’re currently in use or not. It will mean that people don’t have to wait in a queue to charge their car, they can use reCharge My eCar to find a charging point that nobody is using! I entered my app in a big competition run by CoderDojo called the Coolest Projects Awards where young people from CoderDojos all over the world come together and present the projects that they’ve made with code, to each other. reCharge My eCar won first prize in the App Category. It also won 2 Eir Junior Spider Awards!
Being a part of CoderDojo and the Coolest Projects Awards has given me lots of opportunities. Even in the past year, I’ve gone to some really amazing places and met some really cool people! In January, I went to the World Economic Forum 2016, in Davos, where I got to talk to people like will.i.am and Bono about CoderDojo. While I was over there, I helped to run a CoderDojo for the local school children in Davos. I also spoke at Accenture’s International Women’s Day event and GE’s Mind and Machines Europe conference. And just last December I became EU Digital Girl of the Year! The award is given to a girl who is interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and is encouraging other young girls to try out coding/tech.
I think it’s really important for young people to learn about the tech sector and learn to code because in the future there will be so many new jobs involving tech! And even if you don’t end up working as a software developer, it’s still good to know how to code. I find that coding helps me solve problems and think differently about figuring things out.
I love STEM and coding because it lets you make anything - your imagination is the limit! I think more girls should give coding a go, it’s so much fun and it isn’t hard at all, especially if you’re in a CoderDojo where mentors can help you.
What can you do to help? Maybe there is a CoderDojo near you where you can bring your kids, or help out by mentoring. And keep an open mind when a kid tells you about their ideas. My experience, and that of so many other young people, is that we can have great ideas and we just need the right skills and opportunities.”
At The Dock we host the Silicon Docks CoderDojo and welcome new joiners aged 7-17 years old.