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Creating Through Coding

A new STEAM and computer-science center for kids has opened in El Segundo.

By Maureen Kingsley

Owner of Code Ninjas El Segundo Tom Hsieh stands inside the lobby of his business with the Code Ninjas logo behind him
Tom Hsieh, owner

In 2021, creativity and technology go hand-in-hand. A computer-literate and tech-savvy creator can produce high-quality music, video, original artwork, and more, and instantly share it online.

What’s more, “technology touches every field and industry,” asserts Tom Hsieh (pictured), owner of El Segundo’s new Code Ninjas educational center for children in The Works retail center on PCH. “Entertainment, e-commerce, transportation, finance, agriculture, sports, aerospace—the list goes on and on.” For truly every industry we know today—creative fields included—computer science and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) play a critical role, Tom insists. “It’s about logical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity no matter the field,” he adds, and it’s why he’s now channeling his engineering background and passion for education into teaching children how to code.

“Coding is the new literacy,” Tom explains. “Operating Code Ninjas El Segundo is my way of combining my engineering background with my passion for teaching kids coding and STEAM skills through play, peer interaction, guided instruction, project-based learning, and milestone celebrations.” The coding curriculum and STEAM program at Code Ninjas turns kids from consumers of technology to creators of technology, he adds.

Open since September 7 of this year, Code Ninjas El Segundo is accredited and features engaging, game-based coding instruction that is flexible and self-paced. In the “dojo,” as the center is called, kids are encouraged to ask questions of their “senseis” (instructors) and collaborate with their peers as they progress through concepts and earn “belts”—from white to black, martial-arts style.

Tom, a parent of two in the South Bay and a huge believer in the power and value of STEAM, first encountered Code Ninjas as a customer at the Palos Verdes branch, where his daughter was enrolled. He took note of her progress there and her enjoyment of the experience, and when he opened his own Code Ninjas center in El Segundo, Tom incorporated some of his own philosophies to bring additional value. For instance, Tom is a fan of the books Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play by Mitchel Resnick and The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, and he brings some of their key tenets to his coding center. He aims to create plenty of memorable moments for his coding students and makes play and celebration major elements of the program.

“With everything we do at Code Ninjas El Segundo,” Tom says, “we strive to create peak positive memories for kids through coding and STEAM education, so that they can develop into compassionate future leaders sparked by technology to solve real-world challenges.”

Code Ninjas El Segundo serves children ages 5 to 14 through a variety of program offerings. Visit the center at 710-B South Allied Way in The Works retail center in El Segundo.

This story appears in the October 2021 issue of The El Segundo Scene.

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