Teaching STEM skills (to kids)

courtesy of Code Ninja

Former colleagues, Naveed Ali and Haris Syed partner to bring Code Ninjas, founded by entrepreneur and programmer David Graham, to its first Waterloo location this December, as coding and programming become integral to the development of technologies. 

They hope Code Ninjas will help provide youth today with opportunities in developing skills for a future of competitive job markets.

“What are they going to be doing when they get to my age?” Ali, Director of Business at Grand River Hospital, asks. “These days, one degree just is not enough, so I wanted to give them a bit of a head start in life,” he says. Code Ninjas will open their first Waterloo location in the Laurelwood Shopping Centre later this winter. 

The service will offer free 30-minute coding sessions for future students to try before they decide to sign up for the program. For the session and the remainder of the program, parents and students will be asked to set STEM – science, technology, engineering or math related goals.

The Waterloo location for Code Ninjas will also offer special events, including game nights and camps for students to interact socially and explore STEM more immersively. One of these events is to train a programmable drone. 

“Go up for five seconds, hover for five seconds, do a backflip, then draw a triangle and a circle,” Ali said. “We’re going to teach kids how to program these drones rather than just fly them with a remote.”

Founded in 2016, Code Ninjas is a coding franchise aimed towards investing in STEM and coding related programs for youth. 

Students aged 7-14 are introduced to video-game design, coding, robotics and numerous problem-solving opportunities.

The name Code Ninjas stems from their dojo-style teaching program designed to award students with specific coloured belts for their achievement in coding, similar to martial arts.

“With incredibly high consumer demand for coding and STEM education, coupled with our successful business model, Code Ninjas has seen immense success in the United States,” said David Graham, CEO and co-founder of Code Ninjas. 

“We are excited to capitalize on our domestic success and give our neighbours to the north an opportunity to invest in our thriving concept.”

The increasingly competitive job market anticipated for the future is a big concern that inspired the Code Ninjas Waterloo location. It’s become increasingly important for children to have access to STEM-related skills early on in their life, especially in a world centred around technological development.

“Especially in this day and age – we’re in tech town Waterloo,” said Ali. 

“I think kids who do not participate in something like this, I wouldn’t know they’re going to be left behind, but they’re going to miss out on a lot. “  

While coding is not necessarily everyone’s “cup of tea,” Code Ninjas says there are students who will find great value from this program.                                                                                                                                           

“Not everybody is going to enjoy this, but there are some kids who are really going to roll with it,” Haris Syed, former GRH colleague says. 

With their new Waterloo location setup underway, Ali and Syed both plan to open a Kitchener location sometime in 2020.

“It’s coding, math, analytical problem solving, communication, logic, teamwork and fun,” Syed said.


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