Updated: 07/12/16 : 06:37:16
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Computer coding is child's play for Sligo students

It may be complicated stuff for many adults but for sixth-class pupils at St Edward's National School in Co Sligo, coding is second nature.    

They've been writing computer code here since before the Hour of Code initiative was launched in 2013.

According to Greg Harkin writing in the Irish Independent the project runs in 180 countries and aims to make sure every child can have access to computer coding for 60 minutes each day for one week each year. This year's event takes place this week.

"Children take to coding very, very easily; teachers and parents can be nervous around technology but these children just dive in and if they make a mistake they just try again," says St Edward's vice-principal and school ICT co-ordinator Sinéad Grimes.

For most of the sixth-year class, this is their fourth year taking part.

"For me the biggest gain is not just the technology involved but the skills obtained in problem-solving and children working in pairs or in small groups. It involves creativity and logistical thinking," said Ms Grimes.

St Edward's has a dedicated computer lab for coding classes.

It has sparked a new world of imagination and early career goals for pupils.

"I didn't have that much trouble with it," said 11-year-old Cian.

"It's really good fun. I would like to do more of it and I want to be a game developer when I grow up."

For classmate Yola the fun continues when she gets home.

"I've been coding for about four years," she said.

"I really like it. It's fun controlling the characters.

"I do the same thing when I get home too. I don't even see it as school work."

And Callum, 12 next week, said he was learning all the time. "It was a bit tough to begin with but I'm improving all the time," he said.

"I'd recommend coding for anyone thinking of being a game developer."

For teacher Sinéad the earlier that children get involved in computer coding the better.

"We have children who are used to gadgets and computers and we have five-year-olds who are beginning to understand it through games like Minecraft and their parents recognise that," she said. "A lot of the children who couldn't finish their project at school do take it home to complete it.

"They love it."

There will be a celebration of the Hour of Code in the Dogpatch labs, in the CHQ building in Dublin tomorrow from 6pm when a Disney rep will be in attendance.

For more details, see www.hourofcode.com/ie