Video game

New Faces, New Places: Kids earn rewards building video games at Code Ninjas – Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Code Ninja’s tag line is ‘Kids have fun and parents see the results’

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Businesses and non-profit organizations regularly open and move in Saskatoon. Today, the StarPhoenix talks to Sanjay Parekh, who together with his wife Nilima, opened Code Ninjas in late May in University Heights, which offers a unique way for kids ages five to 16 to have fun while learning to program video games.

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Code Ninjas is also great for parents with busy schedules as it offers a lot of flexibility in weekly hours their children can attend. The Saskatoon franchise is just one of over 300 Code Ninjas in North America, including one in Regina.

Q: What services do you offer for children at Code Ninjas?

A: We teach kids how to code through building video games. Children have a natural affinity with video games so we are not manufacturing interests, we are just providing a place where they can interact with other children who have similar interests, and where they can learn how to think programmatically. They will walk into our Dojo (our game developer room) and see friendly faces and they will sit down and work on computers and start building. Our technology is only growing and expanding. It is very important for kids to learn how to code, because beyond coding they will learn how to think. There will always be jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). When children come to Code Ninjas they really enjoy being here, and they can know that we are positively impacting their futures. Parents can send their kids to Code Ninjas so their child can explore different opportunities and find out what they are passionate about.

Q: How does your program work?

A: Our game-based curriculum is phenomenal and unique, in that kids can earn nine belts like in martial arts. They start at the beginner level, or white belt, and they transition into building games. Each of those games teaches them concepts. They learn the series of different languages which is Java script, Lua and C#, and can advance to the black belt and produce their own app. Our program is self-paced but it’s not self-taught. All along the way we have a Sensei to help them.

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In-addition to our coding curriculum, Code Ninjas encourages children to explore our other STEM activities and complete badges related to their personal interests. ROBLOX, 3-D printing, and robotics are just a few badges we offer.

Q: How flexible is the schedule?

A: One of the things parents love most about Code Ninjas is the flexibility that we offer to families so they can come in any one or two days in the program that fits their schedule. It doesn’t have to be the same schedule, and it doesn’t have to be the same two days of the week. So, it fits into the family schedule at their leisure. And we have lots of other programs. We have parents’ night out, we offer birthday parties and amazing summer camps. There is always fun happening at Code Ninjas.

Q: Could you tell us about your upcoming summer camps?

A: Right now I’m very focused on summer camps. There are different camps for one week periods throughout July and August. Just to mention a few, there is a robotics boot camp using LEGO education solutions, a ‘become a YouTuber’ camp, mining with Minecraft, and stop-motion animation. And there are many others.

Q: What makes Code Ninjas stand out?

A: There is nothing like this in Saskatoon. There are lots of programs online right now, but the problem is that people don’t learn much. It’s like they’re talking to robots. Our tag line is, “Kids have fun and parents see the results.” We offer self-paced learning with consistency and flexibility. Consistency sets the expectation, and flexibility gives you freedom.

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This interview has been edited and condensed.

Code Ninjas

Owners: Sanjay and Nilima Parekh
Address: 1844 McOrmond Dr., Unit 142 (University Heights Square)
Hours: Monday to Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Phone: 639-525-2633
Check: Facebook, Instagram

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