Neve wins top prize in tech competition
A Belfast schoolgirl has won the top prize in the first health-focused Code for Better CoderDojo competition, organised by CoderDojo Belfast and Belfast-based tech company TotalMobile.
Fourteen year-old Neve O’Neill was awarded a tablet computer for her entry ‘Sweet Invaders’, a game she designed using GameMaker, where players must defend the earth from junk food as they learn about nutrition.
Judges of the competition, open to children under 16 who attend CoderDojo Belfast, a youth coding club founded and run by Belfast Metropolitan College at its Titanic Quarter Campus, described her entry as “well written, factual and educational”.
CoderDojo is a worldwide movement which runs not-for-profit coding clubs to teach young people to learn how to write computer code, develop websites, apps, programmes, games and more.
Around 100 children meet during each session at CoderDojo Belfast on Saturdays to learn about coding and software development – skills considered vital to drive Northern Ireland’s economy in the future – from around 20 volunteer mentors from local IT companies including TotalMobile. The end of year competition encouraged students to create a game, a mobile app or a website with a health theme.
Entries were judged on interactivity, commercial appeal, design, originality and theme.
Runners-up in the competition included Blake Hunter who designed a game where players must avoid taking too much sugar from the sugar monsters while Andrew Farquharson’s game is played by collecting fruit in a maze.
Olga Pollock, Human Resources Manager at TotalMobile, one of the judges of the awards, said: “As a company that provides innovative software solutions to revolutionise the way frontline healthcare staff work we are keen to support and encourage prospective developers and coders from as early an age as possible.
“We believe we need to nurture our local talent to ensure we have adequate skills to equip the Northern Ireland economy for the future when many more jobs will be created in software development.
“I was very impressed by the standard of entries and it is so encouraging to see the enthusiasm and creativity the young coders have used in creating health-related apps which can make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Jonathan Heggarty, Head of School of Electronic and Computing Technologies at Belfast Met and CoderDojo Champion, said: “CoderDojo Belfast was founded by Belfast Metropolitan College in 2012 to make development and coding fun and a sociable and rewarding experience to encourage young people to pursue careers in IT.
“The competition marks the end of a very successful year for CoderDojo where throughout the year we had around 200 kids aged between 6-16 attend and experience coding and IT and around 20 volunteers attend each session.
“It’s not only the sponsorship which assists CoderDojo but also the generous support from TotalMobile staff in providing their time to support and encourage the young coders of the future.”
For more information on attending CoderDojo Belfast, which will meet again for a new term in September, go to www.coderdojobelfast.com.