CoderDojo WA in 2018 and into 2019
The Fogarty Foundation initiated CoderDojo WA in 2013. Every year, our network of coding clubs has continued to grow both in size and spirit, and 2018 was no different. Our network now encompasses 127 dojos across Western Australia, made up of 2670 ninjas, 181 champions and 403 mentors.
In collaboration with our sponsors Woodside and South 32, CoderDojo WA extended even further throughout WA during 2018, with 30% of Dojos now in regional areas of the state.
During the year, the Fogarty Foundation delivered three project showcase opportunities to enable WA Ninjas to demonstrate their fantastic projects to the community: the Mid-Year Project Showcase, the Perth Games Festival and the End of Year Party. In total, over 700 CoderDojo WA community members participated in these project events.
We were also involved in a number of other great coding events including two all-girls CoderDojo days delivered by Bankwest, where teams of all-female technical staff helped girls create games, develop apps, code websites and program mindstorm robots.
CoderDojo WA continued its support for Curtin University’s Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA). AASQA helps young people on the autism spectrum who are interested in IT, to develop job-ready skills and access career pathways. In 2018 the AASQA program expanded to Kalgoorlie, published the Strength-Based Program for Adolescents with Autism report, andwon the award for an Outstanding Collaboration for National Benefit at the prestigious Business/Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) awards.
In order to continuously improve our program, we undertook a Mentor Experience Improvement Project that analysed the user experience of Mentors and recommended improvements, which we plan to implement in 2019.
We also commenced an evaluation of CoderDojo WA using the Most Significant Change methodology to help us continue to improve the initiative.
In 2019 we say goodbye to our wonderful long term Program Manager Karen Wellington and welcome Jess Silva in her place. Jess has an extensive background in science communication and STEM education with a passion for all things technology. She comes to us from Scitech where she has been developing and delivering STEM programs all over Western Australia for the past 8 years.
This year we will continue to focus on a number of program aspects including supporting more community and corporate Dojos; enabling more opportunities for Ninjas to share and showcase projects; and enabling online mentor training to help upskill our community.
Australia’s very first DojoCon convention for members of the CoderDojo community was a great success.
We had over 400 attendees who shared ideas, inspiration and enthusiasm for coding and creating using computers. Some travelled for hours by train and plane to get to the DojoCon, making the day a truly national event.
The day featured talks, panel sessions, presentations, Dojo sessions and stalls for and by members of our Australian network of youth computer programming clubs.
The DojoCon was co-organised by Murdoch Uni and CoderDojo WA/Fogarty Foundation, and was made possible thanks to our wonderful volunteers, stall-holders, panellists, MCs, speakers and of course the generosity of our sponsors Woodside Energy, Bankwest, Google and Shine Solutions. Be sure to check out our photos and video from the day.
CoderDojo WA are a finalist in the Most Impactful Social Benefit Category of the WAITTA Incite Awards, recognised for outstanding ICT solutions. Today the three of us from the Fogarty Foundation (Janelle, Rebecca and Karen) shared some of the successes and stories from the WA Dojo community with the judging panel.
Congratulations to every single member of the CoderDojo movement in WA. The nomination is recognition of all the amazing work you are doing getting young Western Australians coding. Now, fingers crossed for the awards in June.
Jonathan Tennant, Champion
“Developing software is about more than just the coding, it’s about the activity of breaking down, or otherwise tackling a problem. These skills, once learned, can be applied constantly in day-to-day life. In terms of coding and computers having “totally saved” me, this could be covered a thousand times over by having access to Google and stack-overflow at my fingertips.
CoderDojo was a natural fit for us. I was teaching my son how to code as a way to improve his ability to reason and to improve his mathematics skills, so joining a Dojo just made sense. It is always a pleasure to see the fascinating creations that our Ninjas come up with, certainly “inspiring” “eye-opening”, “funny”, “rewarding” are all appropriate ways to describe this experience.
My hopes are that by showing today’s generation how we are solving problems, and enhancing their understanding of what is involved in software development, will better enable them to understand the foundations of the technologies they will be working with in the future, because it is certain that the kinds of problems they will be solving will be vastly different to what we’re doing today”.
CoderDojo WA Team Update
As staff of the Fogarty Foundation, we provide support to the CoderDojo WA community to help it grow and thrive. From left: Karen Wellington (CoderDojo WA Program Manager), Rebecca Loftus (EDfutures Coordinator), Janelle Dixon (CoderDojo WA Support).
Meet Jordan, Tim and Jocelyn from the Curtin University Dojo
Jordan is one of the Champions at the Curtin University Dojo
What is the best thing about being a Champion?
The best thing about being a Champion is when a dojo session goes well. It is so satisfying to look back at the day at the end of the session and see that everything went as planned and everyone is happy.
What has been the most unexpected part of the Dojo experience so far?
The most unexpected part of the Dojo experience was seeing how much work goes into running a dojo. Going from mentor to Champion is was eye-opening to see what running a dojo actually involves. From things that should be trivial such as booking rooms, to organising refreshments and running presentations it was difficult but incredibly rewarding experience.
Any advice for new Champions?
Be prepared. Organise everything before a session starts. I recommend having run sheets with all of the activities you plan on doing as well as their times. You will not regret it. Being a champion is hard work but is definitely not an experience you should pass on, championing a well-run dojo is a super rewarding experience.
Tim is a Mentor at Curtin University
What brought you to CoderDojo?
I’m a student at Curtin University studying Software Engineering, being in the labs I constantly saw CoderDojo running on the weekends. The next semester when they were looking for more mentors I decided to sign up and give it a shot.
What has been one of your favourite memories as a Mentor?
I’m always amazed by how much the Ninjas know. My favourite memory would have to be working on a project with a Ninja and using tools that I’m sure many university students wouldn’t have even tried yet! Makes me really wish CoderDojo was around when I was younger, these Ninja’s are going to be amazing later in life.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about mentoring at a Dojo?
While having some experience with computers/programming is great it’s really not necessary, I’ve mentored at Dojo’s where the Champions and Mentors had no experience with programming. The Dojo still ran great and they even learnt a bit of programming while working with the Ninja’s.
Jocelyn is a parent at the Curtin University Dojo
What has been the best part about CoderDojo for your daughter?
The best part of attending Dojo’s is the great atmosphere, they are always very welcoming and have a relaxed learning environment. My daughter got to meet other students with similar interests, so as well as learning new skills it was also great for her socially.
What do you love about CoderDojo?
I like how it is a volunteer community where we get to see the best of our young people (mentors) happily assisting school students (ninja’s) with learning computer skills and also discussing common interests. I am always in awe of the mentors who give freely of their skills and time.
Ninjas visit the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre
Some lucky Ninjas visited the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre during the school holidays. Here’s what a parent had to say about their experience:
“Yesterdays session at the Pawsey Center was fantastic. Lewis really enjoyed the whole experience. Pretty sure he was somewhat blown away by the place. David our guide was fantastic…he reminded me of Louis Theroux hahaha he gave out clear paths for the kids to follow if they wanted to be working at the center in years to come, which was great (could see some of the kids brains clicking over…coding is the way to go…so they are so on the right path). I know Lewis was buzzing afterwards as was I. I actually thanked Lewis, because if it wasn’t for his interest I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to even know the center existed and I’d like to extend that thank you too everyone at Coderdojo. Such a brilliant experience. Thank you so much from both Lewis and myself.”
The Weekend West
CoderDojo WA and three of our Ninjas recently featured in The Weekend West. Read more about Lewis, Peter and Sophia’s experience at CoderDojo here.
Perth Games Festival
Did you visit us a the Perth Games Festival this year? If not, don’t worry, we’ve uploaded some photos and videos for you to check out here.
We had some very talented Ninjas come along to the festival to show off the projects they’ve been working on at the UWA and Midland Library Dojos. Game developers at the festival were very impressed! We look forward to having more Ninjas along next year to show off their work.
CoderDojo WA Birthday Bash
We had great fun at the Birthday Bash and hope you did too. A massive thank you to Murdoch University, Wesfarmers CEF, Bankwest and Gecko Steps for their sponsorship on the night and as always a big thank you to our partners Woodside and Scitech for their ongoing support, we couldn’t have done it without you! Everyone had a COOL time and we gave out some amazing prizes including:
- x3 tickets on the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre trip
- x4 Vouchers for JBHiFi
- x1 family pass to Adventureworld
- x1 GeckoSteps workshop
- x1 Makey Makey kit
- x2 Arduino Kits
- x1 Parrot Mini-Drone
- x1 Lego Mindstorm EV3
Everyone also went home with a brand-new CoderDojo WA bag filled with goodies. Photographer Daniel Grant took some amazing photos. Can you find yourself?
Woodside kicked of their Dojo in July 2016 with a team of 12 Woodside graduates supporting the Dojo (5 Champions and 7 Mentors). They’ve impressively attracted 48 Ninjas to come along to their Dojo and they’ve even had appearances from a guest robot.
Woodside are now Coderdojo WA’s Principal Partner. Woodside also support Scitech, Coderdojo WA’s Founding Partner and we look forward to the 3 organisations working together.
Read more about the Woodside Dojo here where Joshua Goyder (a Woodside Graduate/Mentor) talks about his experience in his article ‘Three Things I Learnt Teaching 48 Ninjas to Code’.
Ewan, Ninja at UWA Dojo
Ewan is a Ninja at the UWA Dojo. He told us about why he loves coming to CoderDojo and why learning to code is important.
What do you like to do at your Dojo?
I like to make games and animations. I mostly use Scratch but am starting to do a little bit of Python.
What is your favourite thing about CoderDojo?
I like the freedom to make whatever I want. The mentors are able to help me along the way. I have also made lots of friends who like coding too.
Why do you think learning to code is important?
Code is really important because it is in a lot of things in everyday life like most electronic devices and games. Coding is lots of fun and it helps me learn new things and solve problems.
Ewan’s Mum, Kylie, also talked about how CoderDojo has been a great experience for Ewan.
Ewan is 9 has been coding for approximately 2 years. In that time he has completed several projects. I like to look back through them to see how much his skills have developed since starting. Although there is freedom to choose individual projects and for the Ninjas to work at their own pace, they are encouraged to present their projects to the Dojo. I think that this is extremely important as this is very good for developing their presentation skills and confidence. Ewan has made several friends along the way. I have realised that coding is not ageist and Ewan has met many people who have the same interests, but are not the same age group (which is different to school). The Dojos are an accepting environment and I am very grateful to the mentors who donate their time and energy to help the coding students. I hope that one day Ewan will repay the favour.
Robert Cheung, Mentor at UWA Dojo.
We speak to Robert about some of his favourite memories as a Mentor and why mentoring is a great way to “pay it forwards”.
What brought you to CoderDojo?
My employer, IBM, was contacted by the Fogarty Foundation for volunteers for CoderDojo. In particular, the Foundation were hoping for people with IT industry experience. Several of us at work decided to volunteer. For me personally, I enjoy teaching and coaching people. Furthermore, I had the fortune of experiencing computer programming from a young age through various education initiatives at the time, this was a good opportunity to “pay it forwards”.
What has been one of your favourite memories as a mentor?
My favourite memory as a Mentor at CoderDojo is around one particular Ninja. He was very good at going through the online exercise, but had difficulty understanding some of the more advanced ideas. After about 3 semesters, he finally and suddenly “got it”. It was extra gratifying because it was an exercise that I personally devised that provided the final springboard to get him over the line. Given that these concepts are generally taught at year 11/12 level, and this Ninja had only just started high school, it clearly shows that Ninjas are accumulating knowledge and skills through the weekly sessions.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about mentoring at a Dojo?
The environment is very casual and non-exacting, which might be a very good change of pace for IT professionals. However, don’t mistake that for lack of “achievement”. The amount that the Ninjas learn are non-trivial, and the fact that they happily come back week after week shows they also enjoy it. If you focus on “how can you add value to this session”, you will find that is often all that is needed for things to flow smoothly.
Visiting Ireland – Home of CoderDojo
On the 7th of June, I had the opportunity to visit the CoderDojo offices in the super cool Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, Ireland. Ross (who many of you may know as the Dojo verification overlord and developer incroyable) was able to show me around the offices and I got to meet the Dublin team. Ireland is the birthplace of the CoderDojo movement, with the first Dojo established In July 2011, in the National Software Centre in Cork. Ross was able to show me some of the awesome projects that the team are working on, and he was keen to hear how they might continue to improve their support for us in WA. Go raibh míle maith agat! Thanks for letting me visit!
Also, congratulations on reaching 1000 Dojos across the globe as of last month…. 62 of which are from Western Australia.
Ps: on the way home from the meeting, my taxi driver was the parent of a Dublin Ninja.
CoderDojo: The Classroom of the Future
Over four Thursdays in May, CoderDojo WA presented to approximately 300 lead primary school teachers as part of the Department of Education’s professional learning event on the Digital Technologies curriculum.
Apart from a Cook’s tour of the CoderDojo program, the focus of the presentation was on 21st century learning, and how the CoderDojo model of fun, flexible learning within a STEAM (STEM + Arts) space might just be the future of education.
At the event, it was announced that the government is investing $2.7 million in new teaching and learning resources for all public primary schools, which includes a digital technologies resources pack of “programmable, interactive robots, electronic engineering resources to create real world projects and touch tablet devices preloaded with numerous coding apps.” Good news for any Champions in public primary schools.
National Year of Digital Inclusion
In 2016, GoDigi, a partnership between Infoxchange and Australia Post, launched the National Year of Digital Inclusion (NYDI): a series of National Conversations and Pop-Up events that will be held across the country. Go Digi is a national four-year digital literacy program with the goal of supporting more than 300,000 Australians to improve their digital skills. Robyn King was at the NYDI Conversations event in Perth on the 18th of May to discuss how the CoderDojo WA community of Champions and Mentors works together to improve digital literacy for our Ninjas. Her presentation was entitled “Creating Coding Communities”.
The event included keynote addresses from Senator Scott Ludlam and Dr. Kate Raynes Goldie (Recently named one of MCV Pacific’s most influential women in games for the second year running). Other speakers at the event included:
- Michelle Sandford – Microsoftie, TEDxPerth Speaker, Tech Girl Superhero and one of MCV’s 100 Most Influential Women in Games 2016
- Lainey Weiser – Just Start IT
- Rebecca Ong – Manager of Participation and Learning at the State Library of Western Australia
- Debra Summers – President of the Public Libraries WA Inc
- Dr Helen Cripps – Lecturer in the School of Business and Law, ECU
Well done, Robyn, and congratulations to the GoDigi team for hosting such a successful event. To learn more about GoDigi visit their website: www.godigi.org.au
Australian Computer Society State Conference WA
Robyn also presented at the Australian Computer Society’s state conference on the 19th of May (busy lady). At the event, Robyn joined speakers from CISCO, Boundlss, Woodside Energy and Human Sparks, and was also invited to present on a panel including Louise Smith, Australian Computer Society, Apara Chokshi, Bloom Labs, Tom Goerke, CISCO, and David Cook, ACS WA Branch Chairman. The topic of their discussion was “The Social Impacts of Technology: Good or Evil?”. Their discussion included topics such as end user licence agreements, wearable technology, the effects of technology on our health, whether artificial intelligence is an exciting development or a potential threat.