Chil­dren get fight­ing fit for com­put­ers

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SARAH WIL­SON

Porirua chil­dren are earn­ing their black belt through com­puter cod­ing and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy at e-learn­ing Porirua, but or­gan­is­ers want more chil­dren from lower decile schools.

CoderDojo runs fort­nightly on Sun­day af­ter­noons, with about 20 chil­dren from the age of 5 learn­ing com­puter cod­ing and pro­gram­ming.

The club started in March at the RSA in Porirua East, and will be run­ning in­def­i­nitely as chil­dren progress through more ad­vanced stages of IT.

Tim Davies- Col­ley, ex­ec­u­tive pro­gramme man­ager of e-learn­ing Porirua, said the club was run like a dojo.

Chil­dren earned prizes, badges and belts as they pro­gressed through dif­fer­ent skills, such as learn­ing Block­ley cod­ing, Node cod­ing and as­sem­bling a com­puter hard- drive from scratch, said Davies-Col­ley.

‘‘ We show them the main com­po­nents of a com­puter and point out spe­cific parts, like the pro­ces­sor, cen­tral pro­cess­ing unit and RAM, and have them con­nect it all back up to the mon­i­tor and boot up the sys­tem. If they get it right, they earn a badge for their belt.’’

Davies Col­ley said fam­i­lies at­tend­ing were mostly from wealth­ier ar­eas of Porirua, with par­ents who had an IT back­ground.

‘‘We are keen to see more kids from lower decile ar­eas who have an in­ter­est in tech­nol­ogy, even if their par­ents have no knowl­edge,’’ he said.

Eli Martin, 10, said he loved us­ing the va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent pro­gram­ming lan­guages.

‘‘ Pro­gram­ming is like a big pow­er­ful sword that you have to learn how to use and then your cre­ativ­ity is un­leashed,’’ he said.

Bessie Martin, 8, likes CoderDojo be­cause it is open­ing new op­tions and helps her to un­der­stand new things.

The club has the strict pol­icy of par­ents stay­ing at each ses­sion to en­cour­age their chil­dren and help as men­tors.

Eli and Bessie’s mother, Emma, helps as a men­tor.

‘‘It’s just in­cred­i­ble see­ing all of these kids so fo­cused on learn­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s not even just about cod­ing. It’s about learn­ing log­i­cal rea­son­ing. ‘‘And they love it. ‘‘This gen­er­a­tion has grown up play­ing games on iPads.

‘‘The dig­i­tal world is their wa­ter and they swim in it in­stinc­tively.’’

Steve Stan­ley has a 9-year-old son who at­tends CoderDojo. He said he had al­ways been at­tracted to tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘When he’s not at the ses­sions he gets into it at home, too, and has worked through about 28 mod­ules just in the past few weeks,’’ he said.

The club is free, but a do­na­tion is en­cour­aged if the fam­ily can af­ford it.

Davies- Col­ley said the pro­gramme taught chil­dren IT skills, prob­lem-solv­ing skills and logic, and gave them a head start in the dig­i­tal age. He is also de­sign­ing a pro­gramme specif­i­cally for Maori and Pa­cific teenagers.

Photo: SARAH WIL­SON

In­tri­cate work: From left, men­tor Jenny Miller, Grayson Fen­emor and men­tor Rami Douad as­sem­ble a com­puter.

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