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Code Ninjas: Building the Next Generation of Coders

Author: South Valley Chamber
Published: September 10, 2019

Code Ninjas is a center for kids ages 7-14 to learn coding and robotics with a fun video game building curriculum. Their ninjas move from white to black belt as they gain programming skills and the goal is to take kids from consumers to innovators in technology, all while developing critical thinking, math, logic, and problem-solving skills. By the end of our program, kids will come up with their own app and know how to market and monetize in the app store and Google play store! Code Ninjas is also partnering with CodeSpark and will be offering a developing program for 5-6 year-olds and coming out with a third program for adults that will be available next year.

We asked them a few questions to dive a bit deeper into their business and how they’re creating the future coding generation.

How did Code Ninjas get started?
Code Ninjas was founded in 2016 and is based out of Houston. The founders saw a need in the market for a great coding curriculum catered to kids, as there really isn’t much out there. There are currently over 500 locations sold, with 200 open across the US, Canada, and most recently the U.K. It is the fastest growing kids franchise in the country right now.

Currently in Utah, 1/7 jobs are in the tech sector. The tech industry makes up about 20% of the state’s GDP! Tech jobs in Utah are growing at twice the rate they are across the country. These numbers will only go up over the next 10 years. 60% of the jobs that will be available in 2030 haven’t even been created yet. Our kids will have to know programming and computer science once they grow up and hit the job market.

What kind of experience is this for students? 
Kids come in for two hours a week, around their parent’s schedule (no set class times) and work through our world-class curriculum. At Code Ninjas, kids have fun and parents see results. We want these kids to gain these essential programming skills, but also enjoy themselves while they do it. Once a child loses interest in programming, it is hard for them to want to keep going. That is where our Code Sensei step in. They are trained to have a variety of tricks up their sleeve to make sure the kids are engaged and enjoy what they are doing.

What is the process that students go through in order to gain a ninja belt (wrist-band)?
When students enroll, they get their white belt. Then, as they progress through the curriculum, they will complete a pre-set number of assignments. Once they are done, ninjas (students) will choose three from a list of 10 “prove yourself” challenges. These challenges give ninjas a game description, and they have to come up with the way to code it on their own. Once they are able to pass three “prove yourself” challenges, they will belt up! They get their new belt (color wristband), and of course get bragging rights at the center. Each belt also includes a robotics project that they must complete using our ninja toolbox (robotics kit).

Do students spend a lot of time around friends or are they always focused on coding?
Our unique program offers both. We try and customize the experience for each student individually. Some parents want their kids to be more social, and some want them to focus solely on learning to program. Because our curriculum is self-paced, students work one-on-one with our Code Sensei (tutors) and we can address individual questions and challenges effectively this way. We do allow our kids to have fun, that is how they stay interested. We also make sure each child is progressing. Most enjoy building and playing the games they create, so it isn’t too hard keeping them focused.

Are there other activities that “Ninjas” participate in other than coding?
Yes! We offer a variety of video game camps, STEM activities, robotics projects, drone obstacle courses, and even 3D printing projects at the center. We had camps for nine weeks straight over the summer and it was a huge success! We are passionate about introducing kids to all things tech, which will help them develop interests that can turn into a well-paying career later in life. We also offer Parent’s Night Out where we host fun STEM nights while mom and dad go on a date. We even have coding/video game themed birthday parties at our center!

To learn more, visit www.codeninjas.com