IRELAND’S youngest coder – a five-year-old who has created a ninja slayer computer game – will appear tomorrow (Saturday, June 18) at the country’s biggest technology event, the CoderDojo Coolest Projects Awards.
Tiernan Mangan from Hollymount in south Mayo surprised his mum and mentor Iseult with his creation, which he will display at the event in the RDS from 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Over 10,000 people are expected at the RDS for the free event where over 800 young creators from Ireland and Europe will take part in the fifth annual awards.
Tiernan’s game involves duelling with light sabres while scoring points on a laptop. “I got the idea while I was watching fencing with my uncle in Japan over Skype and I thought that would be great fun to do with light sabres,” said Tiernan.
“My mentors Nora and Aoibheann in the Coder Dojo helped me to read blocks of code – I knew where to put them myself.”
It will be a real family affair for the Mangans as brother Cian (7) and sister Aoibheann (9) will also be among the participating innovators.
Indeed Cian, who has developed a Star Wars maths quiz, was the youngest coder at last year’s awards.
Aoibheann has teamed up with classmate Nora Keaveney (11) to create Twista Sista, a coded bilingual version of the popular board game Twister, which is aimed at junior school teachers.
The Mangan family are part of a 10-strong group who will travel to Dublin from the 14-pupil Cloghans Hill NS, all taught by principal and local CoderDojo founder Iseult.
“I accidentally got into it,” she said. “I decided that if my children were going to play computer games, they were going to build their own to play,” said Iseult.
“I taught myself the basics and began a CoderDojo club which is in huge demand in the area.
“CoderDojo has something for everyone and you can do nothing wrong as it’s all about learning.
“Cian won the Scratch finals last year and was only beaten in the Eir Junior Spider Awards this year by his own sister with her Don’t Pass the Raspberry Jam website for credit card-sized computers.
“I was very surprised when I saw Tiernan’s plan for his game. I queried if I was even able to help him.
“His mentors helped him as he can’t quite read properly yet to develop the blocks all by himself, but the idea and the planning are all his own.”
Ireland’s largest technology event this year will feature gadgets, robots, blogs, games and sites designed by the coolest young coders – children who can write an app as easy as they can read a book.
This year also sees the introduction of Launch’d – the essential platform for the Coolest Projects kids, tech professionals and anyone considering a career in coding.
A host of start-up founders and international thought leaders and top game developers will provide amazing tech skills and insights to Coolest Projects participants and the start-ups involved, as well as the wider tech community.
“Coolest Projects provides the bridge from learning coding skills at local CoderDojos to innovating and creating future employment. We are the piece in the middle which makes the connection,” said Coolest Projects co-founder Noel King. “These digital skills are vital if Europe is to address the coding skills shortage which has led to 500,000 open job postings across the region in 2015.”
Coolest Projects is supported by Intel, Microsoft, Aol, Openet, Bank of Ireland, Folens, Symantec, Virgin Media, RTÉ, Deloitte Digital, Salesforce, Dublin City Council and Accenture.
Some tickets are still available for this free event - see coolestprojects.org and launchd.io.