Do you have kids interested in tech? Silly question, I know. Most kids today are interested in tech. They play Minecraft or other video games. They want to fly drones and build robots. But how many of your kids have an understanding of the games and technology they use? I only know a little bit, and I’ve been using technology for a long time.
Kids today are experts at using technology, but how many are creating technology?
Coding: Creating Technology
Enter Code Ninjas Fargo. My two older girls (ages eight and six) have been able to attend sessions each week as part of the Jr Program designed for kids age 5-9. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t certain I wanted my kids to have more screen time each week, but decided it would be beneficial for them to learn early on what’s become an essential skill. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills are becoming integral for kids to learn, and it seemed learning to code and build their own games could be part of gaining this skill set.
Our Jr. Ninja Experience
We went to our first session just before the pandemic shut everything down. We walked into a bright, fun space. My girls handed off their jackets to me and were led by their new Sensei (teacher) to wash their hands and enter the Dojo (learning space).
There are windows for parents to look through, but no parents are allowed in the Dojo (which I appreciated). I don’t have experience with the programs they would be using, and I know I would just be looking over their shoulders. No one likes someone watching over their shoulder while they trying to learn something new!
My girls had so much fun that first day! Their session didn’t start immediately at the computers. They had a series of tiles laid out on the floor, and the kids had to follow the “code” (i.e. instructions) as they came into the room. It was a really cool, kid-friendly way to introduce them to what coding is.
“Understanding how technology functions can help [kids] to see how they can have an impact in an ever-changing world. Technology is a big part of our everyday lives, and our kids can be prepared to make a difference with a better understanding of it!”
Learning During a Pandemic
Unfortunately, all in-person classes were canceled after that first visit due to COVID-19. Code Ninjas Fargo made a strong effort to connect with kids and keep them coding, even if not in-person. They had a lot of online sessions and programs. In-person sessions started up again this summer, and my girls continued their classes. They loved their sessions and were totally bummed if they had to miss a class.
Since they’ve started back, the girls get to sit at the same table together. The other tables are adequately spaced. Knowing my girls are working together and helping each other to make their games work is a delight.
It has been something special to watch their minds grow during their time at Code Ninjas. To be honest, I don’t know half of what they try to explain to me, but they have a good understanding of it. They are learning to better follow instructions, because that’s what they have to plan for the computer. My daughter told me that she learned that “an algorithm is kind of like a how-to book!”
Following Instructions, Focus, and Creativity
Every Code Ninja session starts with the Code Ninjas Pledge:
“To be the best Code Ninja I can be, I pledge to…
Listen to instructions and obey the rules.
Stay focused and be as creative as I can.
Ask questions when I don’t know the answers.
Show respect for my senseis and fellow code ninjas.
Work hard and play harder.
Help others in need and be part of the team!”
This is a good pledge for anyone to recite each day. Code Ninjas Fargo is a great place for kids to explore and grow in their STEM abilities! Understanding how technology functions can help them to see how they can have an impact in an ever-changing world. Technology is a big part of our everyday lives, and our kids can be prepared to make a difference with a better understanding of it!
Current Classes Offered
Right now, in-person class times are Tuesdays at 4:30 and 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Also, there is a virtual option Tuesdays at 3:15 p.m. The Jr Program (that my daughters are enrolled in) is perfect for any kids ages 5-9 who have little experience in STEM. Code Ninjas also offers a number of programs for kids up to age 14 as well as camps.
A new program that has just launched is called Power Up. It will provide a place for kids to go during distance learning days this school year. Power Up will not just be a homework help center; rather, Code Ninjas Fargo will provide many STEM enrichment activities for the students to participate in and learn about.
For any other info, you can visit the website and find contact information here.
Code Ninjas: Coding for Kids!