Eccles CoderDojo, a volunteer-led organisation offering young children a range of computer coding activities, held its fifteenth event on Saturday March 9 at Eccles Congregational Church.

The organisation helps children to explore their interests, particularly in music, while acquiring key skills for a digital age.

Liz Smart, a volunteer working for the Eccles Coder Dojo, said: “We’ve got some SonicPi today, so there’s a lot of coding music. They’ll make sound effects for their animation, they’ll make versions of the Tetris theme tune or code their own sounds completely; so it’s quite good if they’ve got an interest in music anyway to learn how to code it as well.”

The age range is wide for numerous reasons.

For instance, the organisation aims to adapt the “maker ethos of being tinker and resilient” as children are taught not to give up because “if something goes wrong, it is a part of the process. Beyond that, it’s like preparing them for school, for their education, for their future careers.

Liz said: “SonicPi is like Ruby, there’s Python and there are ones that do HTML, and they are all being used in the industry. There’s no doubt about it that picking up skills here might help them if they want to go into tech careers in the future; but the main thing is that kind of social environment to learn the stuff.

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“Problem solving and team work, and having some space where people who are interested in tech can go to and do it socially is key because you have that for music, and you have it for sport and a lot of the other things but you don’t often hear about it as technology, and the stereotypical kid that likes computing is sitting alone in their bedroom doing it – so it’s giving them that welcoming space.”

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Their parents stay with them as well through the duration of the workshop, making it a good opportunity for parents to spend time with their children. Children that wish to participate in the workshops do not need to acquire any skills beforehand. Beginners are set to the lowest level and raise the level of difficulty as they get comfortable with working with coding.

Liz said: “We want it to be welcoming. It is free of charge and anyone can come even if they have tech or not, it creates the opportunity for anyone who would like to participate.”

The Eccles CoderDojo hosted its first event on December 2, 2017 and has attracted about 130 children to its monthly workshops. The next Eccles CoderDojo event will take place on April 13.

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Image credits: Niki Charalambous and Liz Smart.

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