CoderDojo students from Ireland teach SF kids


Matthew Malen is only 12 and already he knows how to code, develop websites, apps and games. On Thursday this Irish native spent the morning teaching a handful of San Francisco middle school students how to create a program. He won't lie to you, he's obsessed with coding.

"I obviously want to spend all day on it, because I need time for other stuff, like homework and studying for exams," said Malen.

Matthew belongs to a movement in Ireland called CoderDojo. Dojo often refers to a training place for martial arts, but here they are training students to code.

This all started three years ago. A young Irish kid, James Whelton, gained some popularity after hacking the iPod Nano. Soon enough, younger kids at his school wanted to learn how to code.

"He just wanted to set up a computer coding club and basically it grew legs," said Adrian Collins from Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, Ireland.

There are now 379 dojos in 42 countries. Matthew and four others mates are in San Francisco invited by the mayor who met them last year in March when Mayor Ed Lee visited the city of Cork.

"The kids that are here today are the same kids he met on St. Patrick's Day, last year," said Clair McSweeney from the Blackrock Castle Observatory.

Lee wants students in San Francisco schools to become more knowledgeable and involved in coding. There is now a CoderDojo in San Francisco.

The Blackrock Castle Observatory in Ireland also sponsors a dojo.

"It looks like coding and learning computer language is as important as learning a foreign language," said Collins.

Twelve big Silicon Valley tech companies have offices in the city of Cork, including Apple which employs 3,500 people.

The head of the Chamber Of Commerce in Cork, Conor Healy, there says it's about training the next generation of techies. He told ABC7 News, "The tech sector is a global environment, so what you really need to do is to ensure the kids have the skills no matter where they go in the world, that it's transferable."

At 13 Emily Ray, from Ireland, is already looking ahead. She said, "Something like Google, or Apple or programming or something."

Or perhaps she'll create her own company.

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