Irish and Bay Area Kids Learn to Code Together at the Cal Academy

On Thursday, the California Academy of Sciences hosted a fun coding workshop for middle schoolers that I helped facilitate.  The occasion was the visit of five young programmers from Cork, Ireland to the Bay Area, along with the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork, and various other dignitaries from Ireland.  The sponsoring organization was called CoderDojo, which is a movement of young programmer clubs that is sweeping the world.

It was a blast bringing together our local youth with these visiting kids, who all had a great time despite all of the paparazzi and non-youth-friendly speeches afterwards.  I loved seeing kids eyes light up using free tools like Gimp and Scratch to manipulate images, create simple games, and tell stories.

As a youth facilitator, it was also great for me to see how a workshop could be done that was largely youth-led, with only light support by the adult facilitators.  Adrian from CoderDojo jumped around and trouble-shooted when kids got really stuck on a problem, but otherwise it was the five Cork youth who were running the show for their peers.  And each kid got to tackle the challenges on their own, in their own way.

We talk alot about peer-to-peer learning in my field. Seeing an entire global movement of clubs run on those principles was powerful to see in action.  I’d love to explore more ways to build those kinds of practices and norms into my own youth programs that I design and lead.

Check out this video of the day produced by ABC7.  Hey, I recognize that guy in the suspenders in the back!


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