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Code Ninjas franchise opens in Syosset

Franchise owner Amy Chang (center in pink shirt) with her Code Ninja staff

When Amy Chang launched her Code Ninjas franchise on July 1, it was the latest step towards her helping kids learn their way around the inner workings of technology that would put them beyond being mere users in a world where everyone seems to be attached to a personal device. It’s a dream the software engineer has had during her time working for a number of start-ups along with established companies like Publishers Clearing House and PC Magazine.

“I was a software engineer by trade. I was talking to a younger coworker one day and asked how he was so smart and knew everything and he said he’d been doing this [coding] since he was 2. I’m 40 years old and when I was 2, they didn’t have this kind of thing. When I asked who taught him, he said his parents, who happened to be engineers,” she said. “So I started teaching little kids robotics. Just their friends and other people who wanted to learn. It was really cool and then I found out that there was a franchise that actually does this kind of thing. My idea was that they have fun when they’re learning and if they’re having fun, then they’ll remember what they learned.”

This area of Code Ninjas is restricted to participants and their tech senseis

The current location is 1,800-square feet and features a narrow, fishbowl room where only kids, who range in age from 7-14, and their tech senseis, are allowed to work on coding and other tangential skills like trial-and-error techniques, teamwork, troubleshooting, programming and the public speaking that comes with them having to give presentations to their fellow coders. Parents have the option of watching through windows that line the room or retiring to a separate rest area in the rear of the space. Code Ninjas has a drop-in program that runs from 3 to 7 p.m. from Monday through Friday and currently has 23 attendees that can come in up to twice a week. Curriculums are kept track of through the wristbands every participant wears and as they master certain concepts, they rise up through the ranks and earn different color bands, not unlike the different shaded belts earned at a martial arts dojo. There is also a summer program that’s been offering different programs from week to week and counts about nine ninjas taking part in it. There is about a 1 to 6 ratio of staff to students, which ensures a personal touch when it comes to instruction. While Chang grew up in Flushing, Fresh Meadows and Glen Oaks while attending Francis Lewis High School, she’s been a resident of Syosset for the past five or six years. It’s a community that she felt was ready for a Code Ninjas franchise.

“I know the kids here start coding in school, so I thought this could be a way to enhance that and have a dedicated resource and a place for them to come to. It seemed like the perfect situation,” she explained.
Chang earned a bachelor’s degree in creating information systems and a master’s degree in information systems at Stony Brook University. As someone who has watched technology boom in the past couple of decades, her dedication and belief in making sure younger generations are well versed in all things STEM is steadfast, particularly given how much more sophisticated kids are today when it comes to technology.

Students getting their tech skills on at Code Ninjas

“We are carrying super computers in our pockets. When I grew up, there were things like Back to the Future and hoverboards and now, we’re living in that age,” Chang explained. “I don’t want to be the person pushing the buttons or the kids I’m teaching being the ones pushing the buttons. I want these kids to be the ones making [this kind of technology]. Even if they’re not making it, at least understanding it. I really don’t know how a watch works, if I were to take it apart, at least I’d know what the gears and innards do.”

Code Ninjas is located at 613 Jericho Tpke. in Syosset. Visit www.codeninjas.com or call 631-760-1335 to find out more information.

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In addition to being editor of Hicksville News and Massapequa Observer, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).


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