Galway’s young coders use digital skills to protect the world’s oceans

Thirteen young people have been honoured for their work in creating digital games and stories on the theme of the health of the oceans at the inaugural European Sea Change Coderdojo Challenge, which was held in NUI Galway.

The winners included Ciara Heanue from Ballyconneely, who won the Irish Junior Award category for designing a game entitled Wildlife Awareness. Ciara received a prize of €300 and her game will be included in an iBook about cold-water corals that will be presented as a teaching resource to secondary schools.

The Sea Change Game Design Challenge was launched in February this year and invited entries from CoderDojo members aged seven to 18 years. The initiative was also piloted in Lund, Sweden, with the possibility of rolling it out across Europe over the next two years. Single and team entrants were encouraged to use their CoderDojos and mentors to develop their games over the three months.

The challenge is organised by NUI Galway as part of its contribution to a European project called Sea Change, which aims to establish a fundamental change in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea.

Dr Anthony Grehan, Earth and Ocean Sciences, NUI Galway and co-organiser of the event, said the challenge is to use the fun and popularity of designing and playing tech games to raise awareness of marine issues. "It is to raise awareness of issues like the need to protect cold-water coral reefs, how we can begin to address the scourge of micro-plastics, and how we can maintain healthy oceans and seas, for ourselves, for the animals that live in them, and ultimately for the planet."

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