A County Clare student was named overall winner of the 13th annual National Scratch Coding Competition, organised by Lero, the SFI Research Centre for Software and the Irish Computer Society. The national finals brought together top-scoring teams from schools and clubs across the country with participants, aged six years and older, demonstrating their Scratch projects to judges at University of Limerick recently. 

Tom Dandoy, a senior student at Ennisytmon CBS, Ennistymon, County Clare won the overall prize at the National Scratch Coding Competition with Spaceship Battles 3, a computer game he designed and built using Scratch and for which he composed the score. Among the themes of this year's entries were healthy eating, social inclusion, recycling and poetry.

“Lero’s support and involvement in the Scratch competition underpins one of our core objectives which is to train software practitioners of the future through interventions at all levels of the education system. It is so important to nurture and develop coding skills and computational thinking among children and young people. What we see in the National Scratch Competition Finals is the culmination of many months of work for the participants, their teachers and their families and the end result is very impressive. Their projects are a convergence of science and creativity and allows them to see what coding makes possible,” said Dr Clare McInerney, Education and Public Engagement Manager with Lero

“There were 280 entries in this year’s competition, a big increase on last year and an excellent gender balance (56% male, 44% female). Forty-five students made it to the finals and the panel of 15 judges was very impressed by the quality and originality of the projects on show. Congratulations to all the finalists for their work, especially Tom Dandoy, on being named overall winner,” she continued. 

Mary Cleary, Secretary General of the Irish Computer Society said, “The National Scratch Competition gives young people a chance to show both their creative and critical thinking, as well as their innovation. Technology can be immensely valuable and hold a lot of potential if you learn how to use it and Scratch shows that power in a fun and engaging way. I hope that some of the young people in the finals today will go on to become tomorrow’s IT professionals, but even if they choose a different path, I hope their experience in this competition will help them as they become digital citizens. I want to congratulate the winners, and everyone who took part.”

Scratch is a visual programming language that helps children to build key coding skills in a fun and interactive way. The Scratch Coding Competition promotes computing and software development at both primary and secondary school levels and has grown since 2010 alongside the growth in interest in coding.