When Sammamish resident Siva Palani, 42, was unable to find a local computer programming class for her children, she decided to fill the gap by bringing a new STEM learning center to the community herself. On March 13, Palani opened iCode Sammamish, whose goal is to make STEM education exciting and fun for youth.
Jacky Chow, 24, is iCode Sammamish’s campus director. He brings a love of technology and teaching to the center.
“Good teachers can make boring subjects fun. Finding the right balance, and promoting that fun and engaging classroom [is important],” Chow said. His aim is to find that balance and to be able to read the students and understand their needs.
Located in the Saffron shopping center, iCode Sammamish is open Monday through Saturday and offers classes for ages 5 to 18. iCode features four separate rooms or “hubs” for specialized curricula, including arts and creativity, gaming, robotics, and electrical and physical engineering.
iCode follows a belt system similar to karate and taekwondo, with each belt correlating to a recommended age group and skill set. However, students are welcome to join at any level based on their interest. The belts progress through key technology concepts and the soft skills necessary to apply them, including critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, and project management.
The Belt Program begins with the basics of game development and Agile project management and eventually moves through nine belts covering everything from robotics and programming to Python, Java, and cybersecurity. For each belt, students work through nine one-month segments, or sprints, to culminate in a final project.
Besides the Belt Program, iCode offers a Paths Program that allows more flexibility and a shorter commitment. In this program, students can select the subject of their choice and even switch if they change their minds. Subjects include web design, Minecraft, YouTube production, digital arts, and more.
iCode Sammamish also offers a flexible Anytime Program and several Camps so that students and families can find an option that best meets their needs. All programs are designed to introduce students to the programming world and help them foster their STEM interests.
“This was originally built to help a community fill in [the computer programming education] void that [Palani] noticed. We want to encourage parents to hop in, take a look, see if this is a good fit for you,” Chow said.
Visit iCode Sammamish’s website here to learn about their free trial, weekly classes, and upcoming summer camps.