While many kids’ after school time is scheduled with dance classes, swim meets, and hockey practices, mine aren’t. After a few rounds of indoor soccer, my sons wanted a fresh set of activities this fall. With Charlie deep into teaching himself binary and dreaming of building a robot, I set out to find robotics teams, STEM camps, and coding classes for kids in Calgary.
I was surprised at the choice throughout the city from coding clubs to engineering camps, there’s a variety of your places for your kids to build teamwork skills while still inspiring them to build the next great thing.
FREE, OR SELF DIRECTED
The Calgary Public Library has all sorts of classes (and tools) for kids to learn to code and meet other kids who share their interest just look online!. From free Chromebook loaners with your library card, to full green screen production rooms and editing suites that can be reserved, to free online classes through Lynda.com and other resources, the CPL is a fantastic FREE resource
Your local Apple Store has daily classes and drop in sessions where you can learn more about your devices and dig deeper into apps that can help you with your creativity. We often drop in during spring break, during the summer, or on PD days to take a quick coding class. Last year the boys learned Swift Playgrounds and programmed an R2-D2.
For those not near an Apple Store, there’s a new Swift Coding Club kit to give parents the tools they need to host coding at home. The kit is designed to give students aged 8 and older the ability to collaborate, prototype apps and explore how coding can make a difference!
Canada Learning Code
Canada Learning Code sponsors Code Week during the first week of December each year. There are local programs run from kids to adults all to make coding more accessible. Keep an eye out for one nearby!
Websites For Code Lessons
From HTML to Python to Ruby to Java to CSS, Codecademy has a complete roster of courses to help you learn. The courses are designed to keep you on track, so you learn to code “today” not “someday.” Many of the free ones are shorter than 11 hours!
A popular math tutorial website, Khan Academy, also offers courses as part of the Hour of Code movement. Kids 8+ can learn about drawing, databases, or building websites.
Youthdigital offers courses for kids 8-14 to teach them coding, design, and animation. A neighbour’s son used it to learn Java. She says “it’s very step by step and every couple months they do have a sale on the courses.”
Google has an app called Grasshopper (iOS and Android) that teaches kids how to write Java intuitively. It’s free!
Python Challenge is a coding riddle that must be solved by .. learning Python as you solve each clue and progress through the riddle.
CLUBS AND CLASSES
With camps in different community centers around Calgary each night of the week, it should be easy for you to find an Engineering for Kids program near you.
There are locations in Panorama, Dalhousie, Tuscany, Vecova, Strathoca, North Glenmore Park, Cardel Rec Centre, McKenzie Lake, and New Brighton
We started this fall with Charlie taking an advanced robotics class. He doesn’t give it rave reviews (he thinks a few of the kids are not focussed on the class and a little distracting), but we’ve got him scheduled for another set of classes in the spring to learn Python.
There are Engineering for Kids junior programs for kids aged 4-6, apprentice programs for 7-15, advanced robotics for 8-15, and python coding for 9-15.
Here’s a coupon code I used to get a discount for Charlie’s next class
Launchpad Learning offers coding classes for kids (ages 5+) and adults. Learn how to code in a fun and interactive way at summer camps, evening, and after school programs. The 18 week courses typically run through the school year, with 1 hour weekly lessons.
First Inspires LEGO and Robot Leagues
While some kids dig into hockey and soccer teams across the city, others are getting hyped with their Robot Leagues. First Inspires is an organization that brings kids together for robotic competitions. Finding a team can be a challenge at times, they’re organized through schools or parents, but if you can find one in your area, the competitions look amazing. My friend has her son on Team 4334 if you want to see what they are up to.
We absolutely loved the summer program at SAIT and are looking at the one day PD offerings they have through the school year. There are many coding, science, and math camps to check out for all school-aged kids. Spring Break camps are about welding, literacy, and science.
We’ve taken coding, movie making, and LEGO camps at University of Calgary and have been impressed with all of them. While getting the kids deep into the topic, they also make time for getting out and being active.
Bricks 4 Kidz
With locations all around Calgary in various community centres, Bricks 4 Kidz Calgary goes from basic LEGO building all the way to programming with LEGO Mindstorms. There are classes running throughout the year with weeklong summer camps, spring break camps, pro-d day classes, and evening/weekend projects to join as well.
The technology and robotics offerings have just been boosted with Jr. Robotics and Advanced Robotics classes. There’s a class to build a motorized model and watch it come to life using simple LEGO® WeDo® software. As your skills improve, advance to LEGO® EV3 Mindstorms® classes for more challenging robot-building and programming!
Did I miss something?
Hit up the comments and tell me how you’re nurturing your kids’ love of coding!