Showing how coding can be fun

A group of students are at work on their laptops, coding intently while Rohan Mecheri and Shaamil Karim walk around and help them with their occasional queries. This is a regular Saturday evening for the duo at Chennai’s only ‘CoderDojo’ programming club.

Conceived as a relaxed and fun programming space, the volunteer-led CoderDojo movement aims at creating an understanding of programming languages and being creative with technology worldwide.

“What we have here is an environment of free learning where children with a passion for coding or even those who want to learn can come together. Students just need a laptop, which we are also happy to provide if needed, to explore their passion and interest in coding,” said Rohan, a Class 10 student from Sishya.

Freedom to learn

Shaamil, a Class 11 student from Sishya, said that his experiences at CoderDojo encouraged him to teach other children. “The children we have coming in are of all ages and want to explore a lot more of coding. Many of them don’t get to learn what they want to in their schools and we actively encourage learning outside the classroom as well,” he added.

Speaking about Dev, a student of Class 6, Shaamil remarked that he was extremely proficient in the programming language Python. “Most schools don’t teach Python or wait till the students are in Class 11 or 12 to introduce students to it. Several younger students have expressed an interest in the same and this will help them pursue it,” he added.

Shaamil and Rohan have been working with Nidhish Kumar and Shiv Akash, students from PSBB Nungambakkam, and as mentors; the four of them work towards encouraging other students to code, explore, create websites, apps and participate in related events.

Various languages

Every Saturday evening, the students get together after 4 p.m. for an hour and a half and code. “The students here work on various languages including HTML, Scratch, Python and C++. They are free to choose what they would like to work on or learn, and we guide them accordingly,” Rohan said. At present, they have students of all ages, from primary to higher secondary school. Since they believe in free learning, there is no specific syllabus or books.

“There is a wealth of resources online we can chose from if needed, ” Shaamil added. The sessions are free and students from government as well as private schools are encouraged to visit.

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