They split into teams, and by the end of the Code-a-Thon, the winning team had built a website exploring the need for future space colonization and walked away with prizes of new laptops.
The free event was run by We Connect the Dots, a Long Island-based nonprofit that has been operating virtually for four years and moved in January to brick-and-mortar headquarters at Westbury’s LaunchPad, an incubator for entrepreneurs. The Code-a-thon weekend was carried out simultaneously with other groups of students in Australia, Pennsylvania and New York City.
“I had so much fun. I was able to learn so much in so little time,” says Nicolette Auld-Griffith, 15, a sophomore at Valley Stream South High School.
We Connect the Dots is just one group on Long Island dedicated to teaching kids to code. “If you want to learn how to tell the computer what to do, when to do it and how to do it in specific steps, that’s is really the essence of what coding is all about,” says Roberto Joseph, who owns CulturePlay in East Meadow, a storefront venue where he offers after-school and weekend coding classes. “Let’s say you’re making a game and you want your character to jump. You have to be able to code that activity. It doesn’t happen magically.” Different computer coding languages are used to accomplish different kinds of goals, he says.
Here are six places where kids can learn to code on Long Island.
CODING CLASSES Intro to Python, Intro to Java
FOR AGES Sixth grade through 12th grade depending on class
WHEN | WHERE Next sessions begin the week of April 3; 220 East Meadow Ave., East Meadow
COST $459 for 10 weekly 90-minute classes
INFO 516-222-0031, cultureplay.org
“Those are our hard-core coding classes,” says owner Roberto Joseph, who is also director of the master’s program in educational technology at Hofstra University. CulturePlay, which Joseph describes as “a tech place for kids,” also offers other courses that incorporate coding. For kids as young as 5, there’s the Tech Explorers Class and robotics classes, for instance. “All of our game design classes include a heavy element of coding because you can’t do game design without coding,” Joseph says.
Pictured: Malea Pullano, 12, of North Bellmore and Cyrah Joseph, 13, of Freeport, work on video game programming during a technology class at Culture Play in East Meadow in 2015.
Code Long Island
CODING CLASSES Periodic workshops
FOR AGES 7 to 17; parents required to accompany all ages
WHEN | WHERE Sessions rotate among Long Island colleges and schools; most recent session was at Stony Brook University
COST Free, preregistration required at codeli.org
INFO 631-223-8725; codeli.org
Pictured: Bradley Turner, a junior at Stony Brook University studying computer engineering, introduces kids to Java programming language at Stony Brook University.
CODING CLASSES KidOYO Mini is a new course beginning April 19
FOR AGES 6 to 9
WHEN | WHERE 6 to 8 p.m. weekly on the Stony Brook University campus
INFO 631-223-8725; kidoyo.com
KidOYO and Code Long Island are affiliated programs. KidOYO’s newest drop-off program “brings the complexity down to their age level,” says Devon Loffreto, a co-founder and lead mentor for KidOYO. The kids will be learning how to program using a programming language called Scratch created by MIT that eliminates the need for typing skills. KidOYO Mini joins KidOYO’s other offerings for kids ages 9 to 17. The classes for older kids happen on Saturdays and Sundays in Mineola and Stony Brook, respectively, and are $1,000 for four months of weekly classes that teach coding languages Java and Python and use coding for game development, hardware prototyping, 3-D printing and more.
We Connect the Dots
CODING CLASSES CreatingIDEAS
FOR AGES 13 to 18
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for four Saturdays beginning Feb. 25 at Our Lady of Mercy Academy, 815 Convent Rd., Syosset
INFO 631-468-7475, we-connect-the-dots.org
Pictured: Students Nicolette Auld-Griffith, 15, illustrates her mind map, a visual depiction of who she is, while teammates Nathaniel Morales, 17, and Kaitlyn Parrinello, 14, look on during an icebreaking exercise at the start of the International Back to School Code-A-Thon hosted by We Connect the Dots at the Launch Pad in Westbury in January.
Hofstra Saturday Classes for Young People
CODING CLASSES Introduction to Software Development — Python; Introduction to Mobile App Development; Introduction to Website Development; Intermediate Software Development — Python; Intermediate Website Development
FOR AGES Grades 5 to 12
WHEN | WHERE March 11 through May 20 at Hofstra University campus
COST $400 for a two-hour weekly course running eight Saturdays
INFO 516-463-7400; ce.hofstra.edu/youth
“Python is the biggest class, because that’s the primary coding language,” says Jessica Dease, director of the Hofstra Saturday Classes for Young People. “That one always sells out.”
Extreme STEAM Science Kids
CODING CLASSES Robotics and Coding
FOR AGES Grades 1 through 5
WHEN | WHERE 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for grades 1 and 2; 2 to 3 p.m. is grades 3 through 5 on Feb. 11 at Extreme STEAM Science Kids at Park Shore, 450 Deer Park Rd., Dix Hills
COST Free; preregistration required
INFO 631-499-8580; extremesteamcamp.com
On Feb. 11, participants will learn basic coding concepts and program Dash and KIBO robots. Extreme STEAM also offers periodic coding events and will also be offering a very basic introduction to coding and robotics course for preschoolers and kindergartners beginning in March.