What could be better than a video game summer camp?
A new Spruce Grove business is aiming to teach local youth basic computing skills through a series of technology-oriented “summer camps” this summer.
With hundreds of locations in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, Code Ninjas is the world’s fastest and largest growing “kids coding franchise.” Its goal is to teach children how to code in a fun, safe, inspiring environment through a video game-based curriculum. Simply put, the term “code” refers to a unique series of words and numbers that tell computer programs what to do.
“As many of us know, kids have a natural affinity for video games. We don’t just want them to be consumers of digital media. By engaging them in the coding side of things, we can also make them become producers. We’re really about inspiring kids and the next generation to get engaged with coding,” said Edwin Pau, Code Ninjas Spruce Grove Co-Director.
A software developer, he and his business partner Michael Tang, an educator, bought into the Code Ninjas franchise last summer after coming to the conclusion that there was a prevalent gap in STEM-based learning (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) amongst youth. For as prevalent as computer science is in today’s world, early learning remains largely focused on basic reading, writing, and math skills.
The brick-and-mortar centre opened last month and offers two main programs. The “Junior Program” targets children aged 5–7, building a foundation of coding and problem-solving skills through a combination of storytelling and game-building with hands-on projects for an immersive experience. The “Create Program” targets those aged 8–14 and focuses on applying what they learned in the Junior Program to block programming and real-world scripting languages.
“There’s simply not time to cover any kind of computer science at the elementary and junior high level and that’s where we come in. Computing is important in any job right now and you need to know how to use a computer. What better age is there to start than the one we’re talking about now?” said Tang.
Beginning on Jun. 28, the summer camps will commence and consist of morning and afternoon programming Monday to Friday. Parents will have the option to enroll their children in one or the other, or both, depending on their schedules. There are a total of nine camps to chose from including Code Ninjas favourites such as ‘Potential Unlocked: Become a Roblox Developer’ and ‘Storytelling and Moviemaking in Minecraft.’ All courses will be taught in-person using curriculums provided by Code Ninjas and administered with the help of Edmonton-area computer science university students known as “Code Senseis.”
The rapid digital transition the world experienced during the pandemic is the perfect example of why Pau and Tang believe future generations need to be better trained on basic computing skills. Many working professionals had a hard time adapting to the technological requirements of working from home. The pair believe exposing children to the backbone of computer programs early in life will better position them for change in the future as societies only become more digitally engrained.
Those interested can find out more about summer camp options at codeninjas.com/sprucegrove.
“We really want the kids to walk away feeling like they’ve accomplished something that they didn’t know before. But we also want to put that seed into their head that STEM is cool and hopefully it’s something that they will continue to build on and potentially pursue a career in,” said Pau.