Coding moves can earn students a black belt
Black belts aren’t just for martial arts students anymore. A new learning center in Avon offers coding classes for kids through designing video games. Students begin at white belt status and can work their way up to a black belt based on their coding knowledge.
Code Ninjas: Coding Center for Kids, began accepting students ages 7-14 on May 13. About a dozen students have been taking classes regularly, said owner/operator Rob Bumm.
The company, headquartered in Pearland, Texas, has approximately 30 locations, two of which are in Columbus. The majority opened last year. About 300 locations are expected to open within the next few years, Bumm said.
Students receive a wristband they scan each time they come to class. They start with a white wristband and work their way up as they learn. The program is self-based with no pressure to keep a certain pace.
“Kids belt up in karate and they can belt up in coding too,” Bumm said. “We focus on making it engaging while revolving around something they enjoy. By the time they (students) reach getting a job, most of them are going to have some IT element. Even if they’re going to be programmers, they’re going to need this skill.”
Students are assisted by instructors, or senseis, as they go through the step-by-step process. Students follow a list of exercises while building video games. Senseis then go into the program and make sure students have included all the needed elements. If things are missing, senseis work with the students. Students have to demonstrate they know the material just like in karate, Bumm said. If they don’t know a certain kick, they don’t belt up. The same applies here, he said.
Andrew Cline, 11, attends classes at Troy Intermediate School in Avon Lake and began coding classes at Code Ninjas last week. Andrew was looking at different costumes and dance poses for his character. University of Michigan student Lauren Molloy gave him specific goals as he played.
“See, right now he’s staying in one spot,” Molloy told Andrew. “I want you to add 10 steps so it looks like he’s moving. You can click here and change the direction your character is going.”
Bumm hires high school and college students to guide the students through the program. These instructors must be knowledgeable in coding languages and also good with kids, Bumm said. The teachers went through a bit of training before classes began.
“I had never heard of a place like this before,” Carter said. “Coding is something I’m interested in too. It’s rewarding when they (students) figure something out they may not have understood at first.”
Students at Code Ninjas begin working with Scratch. They can choose different backgrounds and characters to use. They begin working with blocks and learn how to make things with them. Each student can pick different aspects to include in their game, which keeps things interesting, Bumm said.
“The focus is giving them (students) a strong foundation for coding,” Bumm said. “There’s a social aspect to it too. Some kids may be introverted. They come in and learn from each other. They come out of their shell and gain confidence. We want them to be dragging their parents here, not the other way around. It’s really rewarding to see them having fun but learning something too.”
Students can drop in throughout the week. The regular program is two hours per week, Bumm said. A fast-track program offers classes up to five days a week. Classes are offered from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Parents can check on their child’s progress by logging in to an online parent portal. They can view what their son or daughter worked on that day and how they are progressing.
The center is located at 35650 Detroit Road. Prices vary between programs and can be viewed on the company’s website. To schedule a tour of the facility visit codeninjas.com/oh-avon/schedule-tour.
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