In the era of technology in the 21st century, a new center is opening in Hillsborough to help local children prepare for the future.
The center is called Code Ninjas and will teach children computer coding and problem-solving skills from the age of seven to 14.
“We took a look at the area and noticed that Montgomery and Hillsborough have some of the best robotics teams in the country. We thought Hillsborough would be a great area because it is really convenient for Hillsborough, Montgomery and Somerville residents,” said Marisa Narula, owner of Code Ninjas in Hillsborough. “This is the first and only Code Ninjas center in Somerset County.”
Code Ninjas will open later this June at the Hillsborough Center located on 649 Route 206 North in Hillsborough.
“I think it is really important to have a center like this right now. I have been an Information Technology recruiter for the last 20 years and have seen a deficit with Americans in IT jobs,” Narula explained. “Knowing that and seeing that there was not really anything available, as far as, robotics and coding for children until they reached middle school, we found that there was a need for Code Ninjas.”
She said what is great about the center is that they can start teaching children as young as those in second grade.
“We can teach them how to code from the basics and build them up to robotics and have them actually building video games, so this is very exciting,” Narula said.
According to Code Ninjas officials, the center has a game based curriculum made up of nine belts, just like martial arts. The curriculum has children advance from white to black belt.
“It is set up in a way where the children get instant recognition as they complete activities so they would be able to start at white belts, which would be the basics of coding. By the time they reach the black belt they will have actually created their own video game that they can sell on the app store,” she said.
Narula said they are teaching the children from soup to nuts on how to build a video game.
“What makes Code Ninjas different is that we have a community. The children will get to be around like minded children,” she said. “They are getting more than just a seminar. They get to learn with other children in fun game based learning, which keeps them interested.”
The Hillsborough Code Ninjas center is part of a national Code Ninjas organization that provides the game based curriculum.
“We are doing some things different at this center. I am actually starting a pilot program on Saturday mornings so that special needs children can also come in and be included,” Narula said. “This is very important to me as a parent of two children with learning disabilities that we have an inclusive environment. We want all children to be able to participate.
She said she has staff hired that have worked with children who have special needs.
Narula also said what is different is that she wanted to be inclusive to girls as well.
“As a female business owner, I wanted to be inclusive to girls in STEM, so one third of our staff is female. They are very excited about mentoring young girls and getting them involved,” she said. “It is important to get more girls interested in coding and our staff feels the same way. So these two items are some of the things we are doing differently with this center.”
Narula said coding is a language in itself so the younger they get the children is better.
“The students being exposed to this at a younger age makes it easier for them. They will be able to be more fluent in it and be ready for the jobs we will have now and in the future,” she said.
The center creates an opportunity for the children, according to Narula.
“We are teaching them to be interested in mathematics, science, technology, problem solving, teamwork, and on being resilience. These will be useful in any industry,” she said.
For more information about the Code Ninjas in Hillsborough, visit www.codeninjas.com.