How to Hack a Christmas Tree

Have you ever hacked a Christmas Tree? Well we at CoderDojo did just that! CoderDojo members from the age of 8 transformed two bare 4 foot artificial Christmas Trees into programmable devices which people could from all over the world could interact with and control.


2014 has been the year of Robotics in CoderDojo DCU and we wanted to end the year with a wow! Earlier this year we joined forces with Intel to run a pilot in providing Galileo boards to 6 dojos across Ireland. Using the Intel Galileo has proved a big hit and has so far excited and engaged the members. The Christmas Tree Hack was born.

So how did this crazy idea come about? In late November I was talking with our hardware and robot guru Alan Donnelly about how we could wrap 2014 with a Christmas party that would excite, engage, educate and wow the members in a way we have never done before.


The Intel Galileo boards have enabled us bring the content at CoderDojo DCU to a new level by mixing both hardware and software. Making real objects move through hardware and code has really excited and engaged the members.

On December 13th, 80 members of created the coolest and most technical Christmas tree in Ireland. To do this we ordered programmable lights, 250 LED’s and Baubles (sorry the baubles got lost and arrived to late), the members used Intel’s Galileo board to control and programmable decorations they created. The ordinary had become extraordinary!


On the day, members started cutting wire, adding LED’s to their decorations, wiring them up to and hooking them into the Galileo boards. Once this was done they were then programmed these using Node.js. To program the Galileo boards the members used an excellent online editor called wyliodrin. Wyliodrin made programming the Galileo Boards less complex and was the ideal platform to use.


For anyone interesting in doing this at home. We wrote two programs. The first one ( programmed a light sequence to activate. The second piece of code ( hackthechristmastree/blob/master/light-twitter.js) interacted with twitter and searched for a specific trend #ChristmasTreeHack. If tweets were found with this hashtag it would control the full Christmas tree in a sequence. By the end of session the Christmas tree was reading tweets and triggering sequences from it. This was Ireland’s first ever fully programmable and social Christmas tree, and it was great that it was powered by the Irish designed Galileo Board.


What made the day special, was each member contributed. The members may have had a background in Scratch to Robotics to Gaming. But on the day, they were all one. Boys and girls were learning how to create electric circuits, I/O wiring and hooking them up to Galileo Boards. It was a day of creativity and fun that will live in our memories for years to come. It was so inspiring seeing the enthusiasm of the members and then witness them collaborate and create.


I have been involved in CoderDojo for 3.5 years. For me personally, it was so special to see the parents and members work together to create this unique Christmas Tree. I am always amazed and inspired at how the members challenge us to always to think outside of the box to engage them. This is what makes CoderDojo DCU special.


I would like to thank Alan Donnelly for his hard work and contribution. Without his vision, this day could not have happened.


I want to give a huge shout out to our supporters that made this day possible.

First, Dublin City University has been our home for the last 2.5 years. They have supported countless ideas we’ve had and helped us explore new avenues. In the early days of CoderDojo, DCU stood up to support the movement and provided an amazing learning space which has enabled us to educate over 100 students each week the art of coding, creativity and technology.


Like Dublin City University, Intel has supported CoderDojo from very early on and our latest joint effort in the Galileo Pilot offers such potential to our young audience. Coding is an important skill, but to be able to mix it with electronics hardware like the Intel Galileo significantly increases the potential for learning and creativity of every CoderDojo member. That members from the age of 8 are able to interact and program these boards is truly inspiring. With the level of ideas and engagement with these boards I cannot wait to see what amazing projects members create with the Galileo boards during 2015.


I also want to thank wyliodrin for providing us with a pro account for their awesome platform for programming Galileo boards, it makes programming the boards very accessible for both the members and the mentor team.

The Christmas Party wrapped up an excellent 2014 and I cannot wait to see what is created and achieved at CoderDojo DCU in 2015. Merry Christmas to you all.


No CoderDojo at DCU this summer

At CoderDojoDCU we are on holidays this summer 2014.

It has been a pleasure to have you all join us this year and great to see so many taking part in Coolest Projects Awards!

Special thanks to all the mentors who’ve helped us out throughout the year and also to the parents! Many of you have been a fantastic help.

Subscribe to our Google Group!forum/coderdojo-dcu for updates on when classes will kick off in September.

[email protected]

CoderDojoGirls Niambh & Catrina top 100 Women in STEM!

We are delighted to announce that Niambh Scullion, co-founder of CoderDojoGirls and long serving CoderDojoDCU mentor has been named as one of the top 100 Women in STEM in Ireland by Silicon Republic.

As well as co-leading CoderDojoGirls, Niambh has also appeared on Newstalk with Pat Kenny recently promoting positive views of Women in IT. She also appeared on the panel of the Women in IT Forum hosted by Hayes Recruitment this year. Way to go Niambh!

Catrina Carrigan, the creator of the Piano Rock Star Game, which will be thought in schools at GCSE level in the UK from next September, was also named as ‘One to Watch’. Catrina has been attending CoderDojoDCU since 2012 and also mentors at CoderDojoGirls. We would all like to thank Catrina for her fantastic contribution to CoderDojoGirls 🙂

Read more on SiliconRepublic here:

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Bank Holiday Session

Hi all,

Due to the Bank Holiday this weekend we are only running one session from 10-12. We usually take a break for Bank Holidays but some mentors have volunteered to help out 🙂

Unfortunately we have to limit numbers due to space in the room. Please do not try to attend without a ticket as we will have to turn you away at the door.

If we are able to release additional tickets we will post an update on our Google Group forum. Please subscribe to our forum for updates!forum/coderdojo-dcu

Kind Regards,
[email protected]

CoderDojo partners with Intel to create cool on the Galileo Boards

On the 3rd of October last year Intel announced their new Irish designed product called Galileo. This product teamed up with Arduino to create the first Intel-Based Arduino-Compatible Development Board. On release of this board twitter went nuts with developers out there looking to get their hands on this new maker device. At CoderDojo there was also great excitement and curiosity about the potential of this board, while we also wondered could we get our hands on the Galileo Boards.

So why such curiosity in CoderDojo? All of us involved in the movement have looked to push the education and creative boundaries through exciting and engaging CoderDojo sessions. To date dojos have pushed the hardware software boundaries integrating Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s into their dojo session. Galileo now offered a new creative opportunity mixing both Arduino functionality and general purpose input/out (GPIO) through Linux, thus providing members with the opportunity to program these devices using Processing, Python, Node.js, Ruby and even shell scripting.

Intel Galileo Board
Intel Galileo Board

Intel has worked closely with CoderDojo since the early days and we were delighted when they invited us to discuss a CoderDojo Pilot to create cool on the Galileo boards. We went to the meeting with such excitement and anticipation to not only see the Galileo boards but also see an opportunity for CoderDojo members to play, hack and create with these boards. We agreed to run a pilot with 5 dojos from all over Ireland.

  • Roscommon
  • Bray
  • Carrickmacross
  • Clonalkity
  • DCU

These dojos were picked due to geographic distribution and their initial interest in using the Galileo boards. Each of these dojos will receive 5 Galileo boards and starter kits in the coming weeks. Members will present the outcome of this pilot at this year’s Coolest Projects Awards ( We can’t wait to see what they create.

Already there have been some exciting projects suggested including a HTML5 Fitness game powered by the Galileo, a Galileo controlled car and even a new Galileo course being created by CoderDojo DCU to teach Galileo development. Don’t worry CoderDojo DCU will opensource the course on

We have created a community in CoderDojo around the Galileo boards and if you are interested in keeping up to date or helping out

  • Join Intel Galileo community
  • CoderDojo Galileo Group!forum/coderdojo-galileo

We have also setup an email address [email protected] for any questions on the Galileo program or feedback.

We look forward to seeing the creative and cool output from this pilot at the Coolest Projects Awards, so hope to see you there.