Code Ninjas in Bethany offers in-person and remote programs
If you're driving near Northwest Dale Avenue in Bethany, then you might see a building with the words "Code Ninjas" on top.
Inside, you'll find kids from ages 7 to 14 years old learning how to code while building their own video games to spark their interest in STEM.
The coding franchise has hundreds of locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Tri Pham, franchise owner of Code Ninjas in Bethany, says the goal is to also teach kids how to code in a fun environment that builds their problem solving and critical thinking skills.
"We think it's important for them to start out early," explained Pham. "Technology in the 21st century is important in our everyday life, whether you see it or not. Moving into the future, technology and coding will be a very important whether they are directly involved or indirectly using it as a customer."
He added that teaching kids about engineering and coding can also help them with a career in the future, such as becoming a software developer or programmer.
When kids first start at Code Ninjas, they begin with the basics and then move on to a program developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Pham describes as "easy and fun for kids to use."
The kids then move on to a proprietary platform where they learn about programming language.
When asked what advice he has for children who might be intimated by coding, Pham said, "There is nothing to be afraid when it comes to technology. We ensure that every kid that comes to Code Ninjas has fun. Once they have fun, they will likely continue."
The business is also taking precautions when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. Code Ninjas offers both virtual and in-person sessions for children to learn about coding during or after school hours.
Pham says his location is operating on reduced capacity and has implemented a schedule where kids can sign-up for drop-in hours. People are also required to social distance and wear masks while inside the building.
"It has been going well, but it could have been better without a pandemic," Pham said.
The franchise owner opened Code Ninjas in Bethany about a month ago. He's hoping for a good year, noting that things are looking up with more vaccines in the community.
"Hopefully, we have a lot of people by summer and things will hopefully go back to normal," Pham added.
As for remote opportunities, Code Ninjas offers at-home coding and virtual camps. The activities are either online or in combination with in-person sessions.
The learning center is also celebrating National Engineers Week, which runs from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27. Pham says the week is an opportunity to teach students about engineering, such as by building and programming robots.
"When you teach a kid something and then he or she understands the concept and is able to use it, that is very rewarding in my eyes," said Pham. "I've done my job by seeing them be successful."
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