We are living in a digital world with our kids online more than ever! And while there is a lot of junk and access online, there is also some programming that can offer kids opportunities to learn coding and promote STEM education.
We recently spoke with Grant Hosford, CEO of codeSpark, a learn-to-code app for children that also has a presence in more than 1/3 of the country’s school districts about codeSpark and how their programming can help kids learn how to think.
Their programming, designed for kids 5-9 years old “uses logic and problem solving skills to complete puzzles and learn their system. Then put these new skills to work designing and coding their own video games and interactive stories. Kids are empowered to become makers and design worlds of their own, leading to a huge boost in their motivation and confidence,” Grant noted.
Check out more about codeSpark Academy below in our interview:
Weekend Jaunts: How did the idea for codeSpark Academy come about?
Grant Hosford: About seven years ago, my daughters asked me how computers work. I’d worked in tech for a decade and figured there must be an app to teach them the basics of computer science.
However, after a week of searching, I couldn’t find any coding recourses for young children, and what I did find for older kids didn’t look very fun. I quickly became obsessed with the idea of teaching ALL kids how to code – especially now that we live in a world run by software. After months of research and partnering with Disney veteran Joe Shochet, codeSpark was born in March of 2014.
Weekend Jaunts: Tell us more about the different programs you offer at codeSpark.
Grant Hosford: Our app codeSpark Academy now has tons of coding content and challenges for children ages 5 – 9 and all of it is self-directed. Kids use logic and problem solving to complete puzzles and learn our system. Then they put their new skills to work designing and coding their own video games and interactive stories. Kids are empowered to become makers and design worlds of their own, leading to a huge boost in their motivation and confidence.
Grant Hosford: We also have several other ways to practice coding, including a fun mini-game called Splash Clash. Splash Clash allows kids to code their in-game characters, called Foos, in water balloon matches against other players in real-time. So my daughter can play with her friend who lives a mile away.
Weekend Jaunts: How can this program help with online learning?
Grant Hosford: Currently, 48 states have adopted mandatory k-12 computer science learning. However, not all teachers are equipped to teach the curriculum, which is OK because children can easily pick up how codeSpark Academy works. Our Kindergarten through 5th-grade platform, codeSpark Academy, is ideal for remote project-based learning, allowing kids to design and program their own video games and interactive stories. Kids can create at their own pace and then share their creations with their teachers and their class.
Also, due to its word free interface, codeSpark Academy is highly accessible. It is one of the few platforms that works for kids with dyslexia, autism, ADHD, and any other challenges related to reading. It also works well for English language learners. The best part is, while kids think they are playing a computer or tablet game, they are learning to code, and this can be done from the classroom, at home, or anywhere with internet access.
Weekend Jaunts: Why do you think coding is important for kids?
Grant Hosford: At codeSpark, we believe every child should have an engaging introduction not only to coding but all STEM education because learning to code is helping children also learn how to think. What codeSpark Academy really teaches beyond coding is logical thinking and problem solving that has broad applicability. Coding also helps build confidence and interest in digital creation.
Weekend Jaunts: What are the best games to start as a first-time user?
Grant Hosford: When a child first starts playing codeSpark Academy, we offer a tutorial that guides first-time users through the basics of the program. Children can choose either game mode or story mode and will begin to pick up how coding works as soon as the tutorial starts. Once they complete the tutorial, children can begin creating their own stories and games and interact with already created content.