Coderdojo: global network of self-directed hacker schools for kids

Glenn sez, "An Irish programmer started with a club in Cork to teach (at no cost) kids aged 5 to 17 how to program. It was such a hit that it's expanded to hundred of cities across 27 countries. CoderDojo has a template that includes self-directed learning with mentors on tap to help out. The notion is to provide kids a productive outlet. Among its successes is an average participation split about halfway between girls and boys in most chapters."

At 17, Whelton could also have become a black-hat hacker. He had gained some notoriety for hacking the latest iPod Nano and came into contact with other hackers. “I fell into a few of the chatrooms and forums talking to people with botnets of over 20,000 computers,” says Whelton. “I almost went down a bad path.”

“Someone offered me $50 to create a fake PayPal login page which would send the name and password to them. I couldn’t bring myself to send it,” he says. “When you get into those circles nothing that you do in real life matters to your social status. Hacking or defacing stuff is what you do to build up a name, particularly when you have no other outlets.”

“The technology world is a bit crazy with vanity metrics,” says Whelton. “We are interested in impact metrics: kids that are doing interesting stuff, kids who are finding new solutions to problems. The kids who eventually come out will be kids who can program, but with a social conscience.”

Small Instruction Set [Ciara Byrne/Medium]

(Image: Paul Clarke)