Saturday 16 December 2017

The Irish teenager who can give lessons in coding

Catrina Carrigan. Photo: Emma Synnott
Catrina Carrigan. Photo: Emma Synnott
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

When it comes to computing, Dublin teenager Catrina Carrigan is well ahead of the Irish education system,

Far from waiting for the Government to put coding on the school curriculum here, the talented techie has played a key role in giving lessons in the subject in the UK.

A former student of Scoil Chatriona in Glasnevin, Catrina's formal introduction to computer science was through the volunteer-led CoderDojo club at nearby Dublin City University (DCU) when she was in Transition Year.

At the time, Catrina said computer studies at school would probably would have been about creating a Word document, and not computer programming.

The year Catrina started attending CoderDojo sessions was also the first year that the Coolest Projects Awards were introduced to encourage CoderDojoers to use the knowledge and skills they had developed at the clubs to create their own project.

Within months, the then 15-year-old had created a website to help users to learn how to play musical instruments such as piano, drums and guitar, and effectively to create their own online rock groups.

"It was about writing a code that says: when this button is pressed, it plays this sound," said Catrina.

That year, the Coolest Projects Awards were hosted by the tech giant Intel, which was also in conversation with the UK agency eSkills about developing a GCSE coding course for UK teens.

They hit on Catrina's project, which has gone on to become the basis of the Piano Rock Star game, and is currently used to teach programming skills to UK teenagers.

Catrina is now in first year at DCU studying computer applications. Looking back, she said she would have loved to have been able to study computer science for the Leaving Cert.

And if she'd had that choice, what subject might she have dropped? "Chemistry, probably."

Irish Independent

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