Nice work, Ireland.

Nice work, Ireland.

5yearCodeWeek

I was very happy to send out this message at the weekend (the third weekend of the week that was really two weeks). Over the five years since Julie Cullen lead us into Code Week EU as our first ambassador, volunteers have organised over 1200 events for citizens in Ireland. Teachers, mentors, librarians, club leaders have held code flavoured events in schools, libraries, dojos, businesses, community halls, and even in Dail Éireann. I have had a terrific time visiting events, and organising some myself. This year I’ve been joined by Eugene McDonagh, who will now take over the role of the chief “visible from space” orange t-shirt wearer, as I join Julie on the supporters bench.

CodeWeekEU2017This year’s Code Week had events in every county in Ireland. Age range involved was from infants to ‘life-long’ learner age – reflecting the aim of Code Week EU to be for everyone. Some events involved young coders teaching adults – up with this sort of thing! The whole list can be seen at our Code Week EU event page. And I am really happy to see we maintained out Top 10 placing!

I’m giving a shout out here to the two events in which I was a student. Our local library here in Cavan invited Stephen Howell of Microsoft Ireland’s Education Engagement team to lead an evening called <Cavan Can Code>. We had a terrific workshop programming the BBC micro:bit together. Thanks to Carmel Cusack Smith for hosting this, and acting as catalyst for what will become a local community of practice. Thanks to all who turned up, it is fair to say that whatever about the rest of the Irish counties, Cavan Can Code for sure.

The second workshop in which I was a student was a Turtlestitch atelier hosted by Richard Millwood in Trinity College Dublin. We spent the day wrangling with code, fabric and thread, and feasting on ‘millionaires squares’ brought along by Mary Jo Bell. I had an idea I wanted to work with but was totally stuck with setting up the variables I’d need to make it work. Thanks to the other participants, I was sorted out and learned a huge amount. As Richard has written in a blog post here, we set out to design and stitch onto t-shirts and felt, but in the process we talked a lot of code and did a lot of computational thinking together. Thanks to everyone who turned up and helped each other out. As a crafter, I was pleased by the way that the embedded knowledge of Mary Jo and myself were now transferring to the programming world of our colleagues. To me this is a perfect example of the intersection of creative and computational inspiration that is being sought by Creative Ireland. As an educator, I am also thrilled that the simple introductory informations cards we used were written by a student, Jennifer Lin. I repeat, up with this sort of thing!

There are still some Code Week EU activities to take place across the country, and of course, coding is not just for Code Week, it is for whenever the chance arises.

It has been a great 5th Birthday celebration across Europe – here is to the next 5 years.

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