The RDS was full of kids showing the coding projects last Saturday. It was terrific to see them explain their work – warts and all – proudly to adults. Early in the day I had a sword fight with Tiernan from Cloghans Hill NS, – except my sword was a stick of broccoli connected to a Makey Makey, and Tiernan had a light saber, a magic foil belt, and the Superpower that comes from being 5 year old. I lost.
Watching the central stage during the day was amazing – Trinity physics researcher and educator Arlene O’Neill interviewed ninjas all day long at the “couch of fame”. No mean feat. She engaged the youngsters without a hint of condescension, and ensured each group had a special experience. Go, Arlene!
It was a treat to meet Nick Weinberg from @LittleBits, on a short flying visit from USA, in person – Nick is a born teacher, and I loved watching small folk reacting to his encouraging invitations to ‘have a go’. We need to make sure he returns to Ireland for a longer visit.
The whole was really well organised – there was none of the “white noise” effect that can be distracting at RDS events, the atmosphere was exciting and relaxed, it was easy to chat to friends encountered.
My Oscar for “Best Stand” goes to the Accenture booth – both digital and analog fun on offer here – between the very flattering “human sensor” screen and the oven glove Lego challenge – well done Either Harley and team!
My Oscar for best speaker of the day goes to game designer Brenda Romero – another role model for girl coders – who is a mesmerising storyteller. She dealt with questions from her fans in a most inclusive and gracious manner – again, not a hint of condescension. I attended her talk with friend Mary Loftus and and Carla Warde, a teenage coder from Sligo, whose future adventures I will watch with interest! (Read Carla’s blog post here).
Thanks (well, really it is awe and wonder!) are due to Noel King, Ken Whelan, Giustina Mizzoni, Sandra Maguire, Ben Chapman and the other “worker bees” who put an amazing day together (I’ve only named those I know – I know there were far far more!). Serious congratulations to all the ninjas, their mentors and teachers – the projects on display were exactly what it said on the tin – the coolest. Shameless plug – I hope every dojo, classroom, and workplace will add their projects and activities to the Code Week EU 2016 calendar. It was good to have “Save the Date” hellos with both Sean Kelly EMP and Niamh Scanlon, EU Digital Girl of the Year 2016.
[ps – the downside – something I only noticed afterwards. Probably because the talks I went to were mainly by women. It was only when I read the full programme line up (note to self – read the programme BEFOREHAND!) at home on Saturday evening that I noticed a glaring gender imbalance on the Launch’d Stage line up. Of the 14 x 30 min. time slots allotted, 10 featured males only, 4 had shared featuring of females – eek! *Not one* female speaker featured in her own right. I can only presume / hope this is an unconscious bias, not deliberate, and will be remediated in 2017?!?]