FIRST LOOK: Code Ninjas works to prepare next generation of STEM students

Code Ninjas is hosting a girls-only coding event this Saturday.

Code Ninjas is hosting a girls-only coding event this Saturday.

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Code Ninjas
Image description
Code Ninjas
With four children of their own, Matt and Gina Hyman said they saw the need for better access to science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—programs for elementary and middle school-aged children in their hometown of The Woodlands.

“We have four children, and two of them are really into gaming, and we noticed a lack of cohesive coding available here,” Gina said. “The high schools have coding programs, but there isn’t anything for the younger kids, and as a parent I wanted to see something that everyone could have access to.”

To fill this gap the couple opened a Code Ninjas franchise in the Cochran’s Crossing Village Center on June 2. At Code Ninjas, children ages 7-14 learn to code—also known as computer programming—through a game-based curriculum. Designed like a karate dojo, the students begin at a white-belt level and move up the ranks to black belt with the end goal of creating an app.

Gina said the curriculum typically takes three to four years for the average student to work through.

“Coding is another language, and just like it would be advantageous for someone to learn Spanish, learning how to code puts you a step above the rest,” Gina said. “By 2020 there are going to be 1 million jobs in the tech industry and only 400,000 qualified applicants. We’re just trying to prepare our kids for the jobs of their future.”

The facility offers drop-in learning, which allows children to attend Code Ninjas for two hours each week. Parents can choose what hours they would like their children to attend and can pay for the classes on a monthly, six-month or annual basis. Hyman said drop-in learning can cost anywhere from $159-$235 depending on which package a family chooses.

The facility also offers an after-school program and summer camps, which follow the Conroe ISD calendar. Within two weeks of their grand opening the Hymans said Code Ninjas already had 86 summer campers as well as 30 founding families in the drop-in learning program.

“We would love to see some more girls in STEM because it is definitely more male-based,” Gina said. “I’m working to get some female speakers to come in to get more female involvement, but we have several girls at camp already, and they’re rocking it.”

The Hymans also said they have free gaming passes for any family who is interested in Code Ninjas to see if the dojo is the right fit for their child.

“We like the ‘try it before you buy it’ model because it allows parents to ask questions and get a tour of the facility, and it allows the kids to see what the dojo is like and if they’re interested in the games,” Matt said.

Matt said, in addition to STEM skills, Code Ninja also teaches children broader proficiencies, which can be applied outside the STEM field.

“When the kids go through each achievement level, they’re building self confidence, working on problem-solving skills and critical thinking, and learning how to collaborate with each other,” he said. “We’re trying to give them skills that can translate to whatever career path they may choose.”

In the future the Hymans said they hope to open a second location in the Magnolia area.

“We’re happy to be here, and we’re just hoping that our service is well received by the community,” Gina said. “I’m excited to see who will be the first student to earn their black belt and what types of apps our kids will create—they’re only limited by their own creativity."

4747 Research Forest Drive, Ste. 195, The Woodlands
Center hours: Mon.-Fri. 1-7 p.m.
Student hours: Mon.-Fri. 2-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
By Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


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