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24 May 2022

IN PICTURES: Portarlington CoderDojo awards talented young techies

A Laois children’s computer club awarded its little tech graduates last week, in a busy open day for families to enjoy.

Portarlington Coderdojo is run by volunteers who give their free time to teach young people how to code.

The club had suspended sessions for two years during Covid but resumed meetings in February to the delight of members, known as ninjas.

On Saturday morning April 30 they held their last pre-summer meeting at Portarlington Community Centre, and made it an awards day.

Jennifer Rennick is a volunteer.

“We wanted to reward our young ninjas for the work they have put in over the last few months. It is a short year, as we finish for summer but we will be back running in September/October. Our ninjas showed some of what they have been working on so other ninjas and parents can also see what is going on and have the opportunity to learn.

"They were delighted to get their certs. It was just a small reward for showing up and putting the time in, they earned them. It was a nice morning to acknowledge our volunteers as well, and say thanks to everyone for keeping things running smoothly,” she said.

The ninjas were given a certificate by their mentors to recognise and reward their effort.

The club offers many classes to suit skill levels.

“We have a few classes running at the moment: Scratch beginners, Scratch advanced, Lego Mindstorm, Unity, Sound Engineering, Microbits. And C++," Jennifer said.

The benefits are myriad.

"Everything involves coding these days and when you start younger, you can progress on. We are running for about nine years now and some former members are in third level, while experienced ninjas mentor others in the club. CoderDojo has a free ethos, so everyone can join, and it has benefits for young people on the Autism spectrum, it enbraces their interests and strengths and encourages socialisation and inclusion," she said.

The free classes are usually in Colaiste Iosagain classrooms on a Saturday morning, for age 7 and up. 

“We use fundraising, grants and donations to pay for rent, insurance and equipment needed,” explained Jennifer.

She expects a waiting list to build up for September such its its popularity. Email coderdojoportarlington@gmail.com for more

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