Across 17 countries preparations are underway for this year’s CoderDojo Coolest Projects Showcase! As a parent of a CoderDojo ninja, who has attended the event the last two years I know first-hand what it’s like. In light of this I thought it would be great to share some insights and tips I’ve picked up over the years to help make the whole day really enjoyable for all your family.

Knowing a breakdown of the day, what to expect and what to bring is extremely helpful, especially if you plan on bringing younger siblings or extended family.

If you have yet to grab tickets for siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends get them for free here before the day itself.

Before the Event:

This year for the first time youths and their parents/guardians can pre-register for Coolest Projects the day before, Friday 16th from 2pm until 6pm. Pre-registration will be held in the CHQ Building, at the end closest to the liffey across from the EPIC Museum entrance. Remember: if you pre-register you will be streamlined in the morning; but you must bring the lanyard, t-shirt given at pre-registration with you to the RDS on Saturday morning.


Timeline of Coolest Projects: 8.00am – 6.00pm

8:00 – 9:00 Project registration & setup

The registration desks are open to ninjas from 8.00am in through the Anglesea road entrance to the RDS (parking is available in the Simmonscourt Road car park). All project presenters (youths under 18) need to have a parent/guardian with them when registering. 

Note: All bags will be checked on entry. For this reason I would advise to just bring what you need for your project.

Each project in the Scratch category is allocated a 60cm high by 80 wide space, while  other categories will have a 1 metre high by 80cm wide stand space (with 1 plug socket) on which the ninja’s can put anything that helps to showcase their project.

Doors are open to the public from 9.00am.

 

9:30 Opening Ceremony

By now your child will have their project set up so you can attend the opening ceremony; where you will hear from Ben and Noel, Co-Founders of Coolest Projects, Giustina the Executive Director of the CoderDojo Foundation and Bill and James, who Co-Founded the CoderDojo movement.

 

10:00 – 12:30 Judging Commences

Judges will walk throughout the stands and ask ninjas about their projects in more detail. As there are so many ninjas the judging process can take a long time. You must be at your stand for the duration of judging.

Make sure your ninja has an offline version of their project ready to show judges. Hotspots are not allowed as they reduce the wifi capacity in the RDS, and with the crowds it is best not to rely on wifi to show their projects. This year we also have introduced beacons around the halls which interact with users of the Coolest Projects App when they come into close proximity with them.

It’s a good idea to bring some colouring books, colouring pens, sticker books, comics or small games to occupy younger ninjas and their siblings during the judging phase. There are also plenty of workshops running from 10:15 for young people who aren’t presenting a project.

 

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

From one o’clock ninjas can take it easy!

This year participants should either bring lunch or can purchase one at the RDS on the day from a number of food stands. Instead of heading to the RDS Food Hall at lunchtime (which can be busy) you can bring a packed lunch. I take my brood across the road to the Horse Show House. They have good value panini’s, soups and wraps and the usual nuggets and chips for the kids. It’s nice to get some fresh air, regroup and relax.

Last year I also brought a cooled bag with drinks, snacks and treats for my kids to dip into throughout the day. The RDS gets very warm so having bottles of cool water to hand is a lifesaver.

 

14:00 – 16:30 Judging Deliberation

 After lunch the Judges will be deciding on which projects should win an award in each category for each of the different age groups. This provides an optimal opportunity to participate in the Riot Games Area, the Intel and Maker workshops or the Discovery zone in the Main Hall.

 

16:30 – 17:55 Awards Ceremony

Ninja’s will be called to enter the awards hall. The ceremony will commence with plenty of fun, music and games between the presentation of awards to those who were selected by the Judges.

 

18:00 Event Close

After an awesome day of making new friends and developing confidence in their tech abilities, the ninjas can leave the RDS full of inspiration and ambition to start on their next project idea!

Anyone who hasn’t entered a project into the Awards but want to attend, including siblings and guardians of entrants, need to register for their free tickets here. Those who arrive on the day without booking a ticket will have to purchase a ticket to enter.

My daughter, Lexi, enjoying the day with her friend

Summary of Top Tips

  • Dress ninja’s in light layers of clothing, the Irish weather is unpredictable. Even if it’s raining and blowing a gale outside the RDS gets very warm as it fills up. Cool kids are happy kids.
  • I advise to bring child restraints to keep toddlers close to you as the main hall fills up quickly and little ones can easily wander off.
  • It’s a good idea to bring some colouring books, colouring pens, sticker books etc. to occupy younger ninjas and their siblings during the judging phase.
  • The RDS Food Hall at lunchtime can be busy. Bring a packed lunch or check out the alternatives, like The Horse Show House, which offer good value lunches for the kids if you fancy escaping the RDS for a treat.
  • Bring a cooled bag with drinks, snacks and treats for kids to dip into during the day. The RDS can get warm so having bottles of cool water to hand is awesome.
  • Try to set up some communication system so that you can reach your ninja readily should they need to be called back to their stand. As the day goes on, ninja’s will most likely be off exploring the cool games and tech stands and it can hold up the judging process if they cannot be found when needed. I allowed my daughter use her mobile phone on the day.
  • Oh and don’t forget yourself! Bring a book, some magazines or your own laptop so you can sit back and relax while your child has a ball at the awesome event!