I went along to the first Limerick Coder Dojo today (see previous post) at Limerick Institute of Technology and was as blown away as the organizers by the turnout and interest. I counted 24 kids, the youngest of whom was 9 (and had already built his own PC!!).
The space was a bit packed due to the unexpected numbers but that issue is already solved with a move to a more spacious city center facility in the offing. Despite being packed in, elbow to elbow, or probably because of it, there was a great buzz and air of excitement.
Adrian, Mark and James took turns at delivering short and to the point tutorials on website design, HTML coding, mindmapping, game design and project brainstorming among other things. There was no lecturing or talking down and the kids were encouraged to collaborate throughout. There were plenty of parents to help and I didn't spot a single participant losing interest or getting left behind.
This is no ordinary computer club either - a lot of thought has gone into creating something quite unique. Ideas like belt rankings and (potentially commerical) group projects hint at the strong emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Well done to all who had something to do with getting this off the ground. I've a strong feeling Coder Dojo is going to get bigger and bigger and will produce a number of James Wheltons*along the way.
James is the 19 year old founder of Coder Dojo.