Teaching Coding in Al Balqa Applied University, Amman, Jordan

As part of my regular delivery of coding workshops in the Middle East, Africa and Greece within the wonderful Refugee Code Week initiative, I am not only sent to teach in refugee camps but also to the schools and colleges of the host countries. So during this week's schedule, I was assigned to provide Scratch coding sessions in the Al Balqa Applied University in Amman.

It was and is a fascinating experience. The administrative staff, lecturers and students are so enthusiastic in learning this branch of coding and delivering it to schools in Amman and elsewhere as part of assigned internships later in the year. 

One interesting thing that has impressed me in my work visits to the country is the high number of women undertaking engineering at universities and colleges. The attached photo from today of one of my workshops of engineering students provides ample proof of this.
There are a number or socio-economic factors why this is the case. But it is uplifting to see something so different to my own country Ireland where the numbers of females in engineering is still very low. We can learn from Jordan. So well done to Shoroq Trad, Haya Al-Omari ʚɞ and the other young Jordanian, Palestinian and other Middle Eastern women here in Jordan for taking on engineering and computer science as a future career!

Volunteers are needed in Preparing a Community Garden for its 'Big WInter Sleep'.

Once again volunteers are needed this Saturday (October 14th) from 11.15am to help prepare the Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden for its winter sleep.
Last Saturday lots of great work was undertaken in cleaning up the facility, recognising that as the main crop of vegetables, herbs and fruits had been harvested a few weeks ago and with autumn leaves falling, the trees and plants are now going into hibernation.
 Though volunteers did an amazing amount of work last Saturday we not complete all of the tasks required. So we are back this weekend and your presence would be so much appreciated for digging, trimming, grass cutting, weeding, painting, path making and completing the dozens of other tasks that are needed to be done in order to allow the garden looking somewhat pretty before winter sets in.

As is our tradition, teas/coffee/water and salads will be provided to all attendees.

Terryland Forest Park: A Haven for Bat Species

Thanks to the great scientific research of Dr Caitriona Carlin and Dr. Gesche Kindermann of Near Health NUI Galway and their students especially Ciara Leonard as well as the Galway Bat Group and Dr Kate McAney of the Vincent Wildlife Trust, it has been shown that the publicly-owned Terryland Forest Park is now home to at least six species of Irish bats including the Leisler, Common Pipistrelle and the Daubenton.
The fact that this wildlife haven exists was only made possible thanks to the thousand of volunteers and dozens of council staff who since March 2000 have planted over 90,000 native Irish trees in what was formerly relatively sterile pasture land and converted it into Ireland's largest community driven forest park. 

Last July, volunteers placed 15 bat boxes in the trees of the Liosbaun section of the forest park. The boxes were made by members and guests at the Cumann na bhFear (Men's Shed) on Sandy Road.
The NUIG scientists now want volunteers to help monitor the boxes for bat activity via droppings etc.
Ciara Leonard will visit the Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden this Saturday to talk to the volunteers and bring this exciting Citizens' Science project onto the next level.

Trump- the wrong leader in the wrong place at the wrong time

Fifty nine people murdered and over five hundred injured in Las Vegas by a crazed killer armed with an arsenal of weaponry all probably purchased legally; a season of unprecedented destructive hurricanes in the Caribbean; and devastated US islands such as Puerto Rico screaming for federal government aid.

What hope though from a President whose campaign was funded with €24 million by the National Rifle Association and who opposes any type of gun control whilst 93 people die every day in the USA due to gun violence; who denies the existence of man-made Climate Change in spite of the evidence to the contrary presented by NASA, EPA and other US agencies; who is enthusiastically dismantling the federal government piece by big piece ensuring that the USA will not have the financial or labour resources to handle future crisis.