CoderDojo ABQ – 2015 Summary

CoderDojo ABQ has been one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have ever had. I have to thank the community of Quelab and all of their encouragement, support and volunteers. Without such an amazing community this would not have been possible.

I have put together a list of numbers people might find interesting. These are rough numbers and I know there are several issues:

  • I don’t have the age for every youth that attended,
  • There were people that attended and did not register, I always got them the first time,  but if they continued to come without registering I didn’t always get them
  • If people came late I didn’t always remember to mark them as having attended
  • Kids get older, but I am using their age from the time they first attended.

So with that in mind the absolute numbers are probably under reported in quantity and age, but the metrics will be close.

The Numbers

There were 17 sessions of CoderDojo ABQ.

56 different youth came at least once, 37 boys and 19 girls (66%/34%).

30 youth came more than once (56%)

I counted 163 total youth attendance (326 hours of youth coding)!

This is an average attendance of 9.6 youth, however, this is heavily weighted by the massive attendance when it first started. Typically 6 – 10 come now (median is 8).

50% of the youth were under 11.

35% of the youth were between 11 and 13.

15% of the youth were older than 13.

The average age was 10.7, median 10.5, mode 12.

The Rewards

This has been an extremely rewarding experience. The best part is when the just ‘get it’. Either they start understanding it or just feel comfortable enough with programming to start experiments and breaking the system. For example, when they start putting things into infinite loops, knowing it will break, but wanting to see how or in Unity when they start messing with gravity or collisions or speeds knowing it will mess up, but wanting to see how.

I have come to believe that basic programming is going to become a new literacy and I am excited to give these kids a head start on it. I have to constantly balance the desire to get every kid in here, with the fact that packing Quelab is with kids is stressful. I do prefer the smaller sizes now than the larger sessions from when it first started. I don’t get to learn about each youth as an individual and spend most of my time trying to organize things and stressing out. I do want more kids to have a chance to program and hope schools, libraries, etc will offer more chances to code. Even more I hope other enterprising individuals will start more CoderDojos in Albuquerque at different times and locations or other opportunities for kids to program.



Here are the three biggest challenges I have faced.

  • Beyond Scratch – Scratch has been great for getting kids started no matter their skill or age, but it has been hard for me to get the younger kids past it. As the stats, half the kids that attend are 10 or younger, with many 7 and 8 year olds. Scratch works great for them, but there is a pretty big jump to typing out a language. Beyond learning the programming language they often have to fight against their typing skills, math skills and their ability to be precise and patient.
  • Build Your Own Project – After going through the tutorials and learning the basics I have them try to make their own project. Some start on their own thing before this, others need the prompt or some help coming up with an idea. This seems to be the best way for the concepts to really stick and for them to figure out what they don’t know how to do. However, some can’t/won’t come up with an idea and then I am often at a loss with what to do. As much as I want them to come up with their own idea, I suppose I need to come up with 2 or 3 possibilities that they can start on and just give them the project.
  • Presentations – When we first started we ended the meetings with presentations. As the kids starts getting into more complex projects we stopped and never really restarted. The ones that had something to show, never really seemed ready at the same time so they haven’t had as many chances to show off their work as I would like. I think I just to start a habit of setting up the projector and giving them the opportunity to present at the end of each meeting, even if no one is ready or decides to do it. That way they know if they are ready at the end they will have the opportunity to every week.


For 2016 CoderDojo ABQ is going to switch to the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, still at Quelab and still 10 – Noon.

The first session for the year is January 16th and registration is on the CoderDojo Zen.

I look forward to an even better and more exciting year of coding with kids.



CoderDojo ABQ

We had the first CoderDojo Abq event which was motivated by the Hour of Code event four months ago. It was incredible. The event occurred in the common area (The Core) of Quelab and it was packed.

Registration filled up and we had 18 youth attend to start learning Scratch. It was extremely exciting and positive. I spent many a nights worrying about whether it would be fun, if people might bored, find it too easy….or too hard; but in the end it went incredibly smooth. I think the kids, adults and volunteers all had a blast and the next CoderDojo Abq session (on the 25th) was sold out a 24 hours later.

The demand for this is amazing and I have heard nothing but excitement for the CoderDojo program. It was inspiring to watch all the kids have so much fun and then present what they made at the end. I expected one or two to have something they wanted to show and be willing to show it, but I think we ended up with seven kids presenting what they had made.

I hope this energy continues and am working on finding the people to expand it to more times so more youth will have the opportunity to join in.

Hacking Everything!

New Hackable Fridge @ Quelab

Quelab had an open house on Saturday called Hack All The Things. It was an amazing event and I ran a CoderDojo ABQ promotion were we got kids programming on Scratch and my Netduino. I should have gotten pictures and tweeted and done more promotion, but I was having too much fun. I did get one picture of the Hackable fridge Quelab won.

Intel provided Quelab with several Edisons for people to hack on. I was able to get to borrow one and hope to do some Internet Of Things projects and also write simply tutorials for Edison, similar to ones I used at the CoderDojo for the Netduino, which I will post online soon.

Finally, CoderDojo ABQ is happening April 11th and it will continue to occur at Quelab every 2nd and 4th Sunday from 10 – Noon. There has been amazing support from the people of Quelab and this should be a great event. Make sure to register at the website if you are interested.

Github Pages

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get a page setup with Github. The other weekend I went to setup a Github repository for the upcoming CoderDojo ABQ and decided to use the Github Pages feature to get some information up and running.

I found a CoderDojo that was already on Github, whose format I liked. I forked it, renamed it and had a page up.

Next I downloaded the windows client, grabbed a copy of the repository and loaded up new imagery and put up some quick content. Committed it and I now you can see CoderDojoAbq. This took me about an hour and I still don’t really know Git at all, but I extremely impressed with how easy it was to get something nice setup. I was also impressed with the Windows client. I didn’t read any documentation and only knew the basics about how the Github pages functioned, everything was just natural and smooth.

My next plan is to get a tutorial up for how to fork and change the site and the push the changes to the official site (I’ll have to learn how to do this first).  Ideally, the students themselves will be able to update the website with their own projects or add features and designs.