Girls in Tech: Meet 12 Year Old App Developer Niamh Scanlon

As part of our Technology Whizzkids series and to celebrate Girls in Tech, we interviewed app developer Niamh Scanlon, age 12, recent winner of Best Individual Project and overall Grand Prix winner for her age group at the Eircom Junior Spiders awards 2015:

Tell us a little about yourself

Niamh Scanlon

Picture by Alan Tully

My name is Niamh Scanlon and I go to CoderDojo in Dublin City University to learn how to code websites, games and apps. I’ve been going there since I was 9 and I’m 12 now.

A couple of years ago I started to mentor there too at CoderDojoGirls, which is really fun, because it means you can use what you have learned about coding to help other people to learn too.

Tell us about the App you have created

One of the apps I have made while at CoderDojo is called reCharge my eCar. It’s an app for people who use electric cars. It shows where all the public charging points are in Ireland, and whether someone is currently using each one. It also gives you directions from where you are to the charging point that you select.

reCharge-My-eCar_logoTo make the app I needed information about the charging points, so I gave a presentation to the ESB and they were really helpful, they gave me access to the data I needed and they have been really supportive.

There was a lot of coding involved in the app, but the mentors at CoderDojo DCU were always there if I had questions, especially Noel King. I entered the app into the Coolest Projects Awards last year. Coolest Projects is an event that CoderDojo runs each year, where young people from CoderDojos all around Ireland and even internationally can use the skills they have learned to make projects and show them at the event. In 2014 I won the app category with reCharge my eCar.

niamh scanlon junior spidersThat led to me talking on stage at Web Summit about my app in front of thousands of people, which was a bit scary but lots and lots of fun! I also got to do cool things like go on a tour of Brown Bag Films, who make amazing animations, and I even got interviewed by RTE’s Science Squad. I never thought that entering Coolest Projects would lead to all those cool things!

Earlier this week I had another really nice surprise too – I won the best individual project and overall Grand Prix for my age group in the Eircom Junior Spider awards. That was such a fun day!

What first got you interested in technology?

I really liked playing games and using apps on the phone and laptop, but I never knew how they were made. When my Mum found out about CoderDojo at DCU we went along and I loved it from the first day!

I remember when I made my first web page, I looked at it and I thought ‘I made that!’ – and I wanted to make lots more!

What do you like about the Internet and Technology?

I like the idea that you can create anything and imagination is your limit. I think technology is the future so coding is a really important skill to have. I think a lot of jobs in the future will be based on coding.

What are your views on girls and technology?

Niamh Scanlon mentoring Girls Hacks

Niamh mentoring at Girls Hacks

I think more girls should start in the technology area, it is really fun. There should be as many girls as boys working in and with technology and I would like to see more girls my age start coding and getting into tech.

I was at an all-girls hackathon last month – Girls Hack Ireland – where I worked as a mentor, and it was a lot of fun.

This week I took part in the launch of Inspirefest 2015, which will show how great women and girls are in technology. I will be mentoring at the hack morning, and I’m really looking forward to it.

What do you hope to do in the next few years?

Niamh Scanlon Ann O'Dea

Niamh with Ann O’Dea, editor-at-large Silicon Republic and minister Damien English launching Inspirefest 2015

At the moment I am still working on reCharge my eCar, I want to do a lot more with that and get it out so people can use it. I’m also working on something for this year’s Coolest Projects!

In the future I think I will use the skills I have learned from coding and presenting projects, no matter what job I have!

You might also enjoy reading Whizzkid Story: When Adam met ChoreMonster and Whizzkid Story: Tom McCarthy & The Fusor

We’re always looking for young people to profile so get in touch if you are interested.

Over to you now. Do you have a girl who loves technology? Tell us all about her in the comments below! 

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls