Code Mode / STEM-savvy classes for the technical tot

Mollie Jamison
April 2015 in
July 23, 2015
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As our kids become more dependent on computers, they continuously have to develop new skills to keep up (e.g., building websites and writing code). Jey Veerasamy, Ph.D., director of the Center for Computer Science Education and Outreach at the University of Texas at Dallas, says the earlier kids learn to code, the better. “Compared to middle school students, a higher percentage of elementary kids [are] curious and thrilled to learn,” Veerasamy says. He goes on to say that young kids are using code to be creators of the things they love, instead of mere consumers. “They’re able to create their own games and mobile apps and learn advanced programming techniques.” We know you’ll stop at nothing to raise STEM-savvy kids, so we hand-picked six local programs to help you get your kids coding.
Dallas International School
What: Summer Enrichment Camp
Where: 6039 Churchill Way, Dallas, 972/991-6379;
Why we like it: A variety of weeklong science and technology classes are offered from June 15–July 24. In Explore-Coding-Tools, kids play with a different web-based tool each session to get introduced to coding concepts in a fun way. This camp is for freshers (a term used for individuals with no background in programming).
Bonus: Additional classes offered include Minecraft – Learn to Mod and 2-D Animations Using Scratch.
Ages: 7–10, 11–13 and 14–17
Price: $180
iD Tech
What: Intro to Programming with Minecraft
Where: Southern Methodist University, Dallas, 214/768-2000;
Why we like it: Kids will learn Java code by creating a custom Minecraft world in this weeklong camp, available in June and July. They’ll build simple creatures, program custom behaviors, use resource packs and learn to mod custom blocks. A variety of other coding camps are also offered at SMU through iD Tech, including Intro to Programming with Scratch & JavaScript.
Bonus: You can sign up for the same iD Tech summer camps at the University of Texas at Dallas, if it’s closer to home.
Ages: 10–12
Price: $929 for day camp; $1,478 for overnight accommodations (ages 12 and older).
Lakehill Preparatory School
What: Extreme Computer
Where: 2720 Hillside Drive, Dallas, 214/826-2931,
Why we like it: Kids will learn to understand the power and capabilities of coding by making a game with JavaScript and downloading it to a mobile phone during this weeklong camp in August.
Bonus: Tiny techies won’t just learn one program. They’ll also create a flag, corporate logo or icon with Picturing Programs, program a dance routine in Scratch and design a video or game with Alice.
Ages: Grades 5–12
Price: $240
Parish Episcopal
What: Girls Learning Code – Image & Animation
Where: 4101 Sigma Road, Dallas, 972/239-8011,
Why we like it: Girls with creative and artistic passions will enjoy learning how to use Pixlr, a browser-based image editing software, as well as the Scratch program, in this half-day camp from June 15–19. At the end of the week, they can upload their animations for everyone to see.
Bonus: Additional coding camps are available in June and July for kids in grades K–8. Some of our favorites include Mini Programmers Learning Code and Introduction to Game Design with Scratch.
Ages: Grades 3–5
Price: $235
Sylvan Learning Center
What: Game Design 101 and 102
Where: North Central Expressway, Suite 111, Dallas, 214/342-3305;
Why we like it: Kids can create video games and animated stories while learning basic coding, problem solving, logic and physics in these six-week courses held year-round.
Bonus: Advanced classes for kids in grades 6–8 (Game Design 201 and 202) are available at a discounted price for returning customers. Details vary by location.
Ages: Grades 3–5
Price: $199
What: Students learn computer science and robotics in groups of six during these one-hour, twice weekly classes, available every day except Friday.
Where: 4577 Ohio Dr., Frisco, 469/608-7023;
Why we like it: Students enter the program based on grade level but have the opportunity to take advanced classes if they wish to specialize in advanced coding, web design, game development or other areas. They’ll start by learning the basics in Beginner I and work their way up to Advanced III.
Bonus: For supplemental learning, iCode offers Friday evening socials and a monthly speaker series, led by executives and entrepreneurs from real technology companies. Half- and full-day programs are also held during summer months.
Ages: Classes available for students in grades 1–12.
Price: Annual registration fee is $150 with a 5 percent discount for siblings. Standard monthly fee ranges from $295–$350 with a discounted price the first month.
Parr Library
What: Made with Code Projects
Where: 6200 Windhaven Parkway, Plano, 972/769-4300;
Why we like it: With the help of mentors, kids will complete projects featured on Google’s from 3–5pm on April 11. Supplies are limited and registration is required.
Bonus: Participants will design a simple bracelet using introductory coding that will be shipped right to their doorstep.
Ages: Grades 3 and up
Price: Free
What: Code Breakers
Where: 5236 Tennyson Parkway, Plano, 972/473-3412;
Why we like it: Kids will learn the basics of coding languages, such as HTML5, JavaScript and DCC, through a series of web projects and design challenges in these weeklong camps, available in June and July. Each workshop was designed by educational technology company Black Rocket and requires students to work in pairs or teams to mirror the collaborative nature of the real-life design process.
Bonus: Students’ projects will be available online to share with friends and family.
Ages: Grades 3–5 and 6–8
Price: $189
Sylvan Learning Center
What: Game Design 101 and 102
Where: 3311 Preston Road, Suite 9, Frisco, 214/618-2955
210 Central Expressway South, Suite 98, Allen, 469/675-3238
6840 W. Virginia Parkway, Suite 105, McKinney, 214/504-9200
Why we like it: Kids can create video games and animated stories while learning basic coding, problem solving, logic and physics in these six-week courses held year-round.
Bonus: Advanced classes for kids in grades 6–8 (Game Design 201 and 202) are available at a discounted price for returning customers. Details vary by location.
Ages: Grades 3–5
Price: $199
UT Dallas
What: Weekend Programming Clubs
Where: ECSS Building, 902 Drive A, Richardson (visit for more detailed directions), 972/357-6893;
Why we like it: Four different levels of courses are available to kids in these nine-week classes. In Level 1: Scratch, students use their creativity to animate objects, make music and develop a simple game.
Bonus: Programming eClubs are available to those who would rather work from home or can’t make the commute.
Price: $150

Published April 2015


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