On Saturday 35 kids showed up for CoderDojo at Zemanta! It was so packed that we hardly squeezed in all the enthusiastic kids that wanted to program their computers. Fortunately I had a learning script ready and I was helped by some parents so the event turned out surprisingly organized and under control, but 35 kids is nonetheless more than we can regularly handle and we will unfortunately have to introduce some system of registration in order to prevent 70 kids from turning out at the next event.
But that would mean that quite some kids, eager to learn programming, would be left out! And with a memory of glittery eyes of kids crafting their first code lines still fresh in my mind, I really wouldn't like to see that happening so I'm issuing here a call for more coder dojos, that is, places where kids can hang out and program and play with computers.
Organizing a CoderDojo is easy and it requires just a bit of enthusiasm and some effort. First you need a space with a working wireless Internet connection, but that should be easy since most offices are empty on Saturdays and most companies are more than willing to make their premises available to such initiatives. Second, you need kids interested in programming. That again should be quite easy as programming is quite popular at the moment and if you have kids yourself you can use them to spread the word about the event (and you can always use social media to promote your event, of course). Third, you need mentors and some curriculum. That is quite easy to get again since many programmers are very willing to teach kids their skills and you can use parents to help out with other aspects of the organization. Fourth, you need plenty of food to feed the hungry children. CoderDojo makes kids use their brains a lot and therefore the required calorie intake in order to keep the situation under control is hard to comprehend until you experience it first hand. At CoderDojo at Zemanta we solve this issue by having a few parents bring food along (croissants and biscuits are kids' preference, but we feed them some fruits, too!).
So if I got you interested in organizing your own CoderDojo, give it a try. I'm sure you'll love it and existing organizers are more than willing to help you with our experience. Just give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you get the event started.