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In new program, Bowie company aims to ‘demystify coding’ for kids

Pre-pandemic, Code Super Powers’ students work on a project. (Submitted Photo)

If your kid likes to play “Fortnite,” they may just have a future in the tech industry. 

This is the philosophy that powers Bowie-based Code Super Powers, a company that creates and runs coding camps, after school programs and first-period programs for kids ages 6 to 16. Students harness their love of their phones, the apps and websites they use and the video games they play to inspire new projects and games that they code on their own — with the guidance of Code Super Powers instructors. 

Having launched in 2019 and shifted to fully virtual courses in 2020, the company, led by founder and CEO Matt Evans, has recently launched a new initiative — Coding Coaches for All, a series of free and discounted coding classes aimed at students most impacted by the pandemic. 

“We know that technology is so important to our civilization, it’s important to everything we do. But the accessibility, from the training perspective, is not widely available,” he said. “(Code Super Powers) focuses on those communities that might not have STEM instructors on speed dial.” 

“We’re trying to demystify this whole thing about coding. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or some genius in a basement who has no friends,” said company founder Matt Evans.

The organization will partner with schools, community centers and libraries to provide students with the opportunity to work with the company’s experienced instructors, including veterans of tech giants like IBM and Microsoft, as well as recent graduates of Maryland’s local colleges.  

The program will be virtual and local when it first launches in the coming school year, with the possibility of expanding in the future (virtual programs during the pandemic reached as far as California, the United Kingdom and Ghana). 

Code Super Powers’ virtual programs are held synchronously, with instructors able share their screen and troubleshoot issues in real time with the students. 

Though coding courses for children have gained popularity throughout the past decade, Coding Super Power stands apart due to its unique format. The organization’s courses use a specialized AI system to create individualized curriculums for students based on their interests — if a student says she likes the 2011 video game “Minecraft,” for instance, she’ll learn the skills necessary to create a similar game. 

A clip of a video game designed by a 10-year-old Code Super Powers student. Submitted gif.

A clip of a video game designed by a 10-year-old Code Super Powers student. Submitted gif.

“That’s going to teach them how to, now, not just be a player of those games but to be the creator,” Evans said. “Really, what it is at the heart is software development, but we just don’t call it that. We don’t come out and say, you’re a software developer, because that’s going to scare half of them away immediately … we’re trying to demystify this whole thing about coding. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or some genius in a basement who has no friends.”

The organization is also notable for its partnership with Comcast, which awarded the company one of its RISE Awards at the end of last year. Born out of the pandemic, the RISE program — which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment — provides selected minority-owned small businesses color with marketing, creative, media and technology services over the course of several years. 

“They said, OK, you guys represent what we represent,” Evans said. “They’ve created a community of support around us, so they’re providing ongoing business mentorship, financial support, wherever they see that they can help, they actually do.”  

The program has also provided a community of like-minded businesses that Code Super Powers can network and partner with even beyond the pandemic. 

Other highlights of the program include Code Super Powers’ focus on teaching students about social engineering, so that they can use their newfound skills to benefit their communities, and the flexible schedules that the company offers to its partner schools.

For the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year, the organization has partnered with 60 Maryland, Washington and Virginia schools, libraries and community organizations.

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