When Kalash Keote and Sangeeta Gupta sought STEM and coding programs that aligned with the latest technology for their twin son and daughter, they encountered a gap in available options. Leveraging their 25 years of technology expertise, the Bridgewater couple identified disparities between the current industry trends and the educational offerings.
So, they decided to fill that need. In March, they opened a franchise of iCode in Bridgewater, which offers a series of classes, workshops and camps for kids in kindergarten through the twelfth grade and teaches everything from block coding to designing to robotics.
“Unlike other programs, iCode Bridgewater classes are all instructor-led,” said Keote, who is Director of Digital Technologies in the IT field. “The franchise also has a great model and focus for curriculum. What is current today may be out of date tomorrow. The franchise has a curriculum development team that is always revamping the curriculum to make sure it is really up to date on the current technology.”
iCode transcends coding to involve critical thinking, using logic and learning skills essential to working as a team—just like in the real world. “Team building helps the kids transition into the real environment,” he says. “It shows them what to anticipate when they grow up and go out into the field.”
The program uses platforms kids love, like Roblox and Minecraft, and incorporates 3-D printers, drones, virtual reality headsets and robotics. It also focuses on the artistic applications in technology and employing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) curriculum. “So, beyond the coding, kids are learning things like digital design and video editing that allows them to develop soft skills like critical thinking, teamwork, collaboration and presentation,” Keote says. “They are not just coding for the sake of coding but are developing in ways that will be useful in the future.”
The Belt Program is designed similar to karate: Kids start at their current level then progress up belts as skills are attained. The Paths Program allows kids to do a deeper dive into a STEM topic of their choice, like Roblox, Minecraft, Java and Python.
iCode also partners with public and private schools and private organizations to provide STEAM curriculum, equipment and instructors. And recently, they started a robotics program. “There is a lot of interest in robotics, but it’s mainly available at the high school level,” Keote says. “We wanted to create a program in which students can start earlier and design robots based on the challenges provided by the REC Foundation, which can make them more competitive.”
Our goal is to build young minds by giving kids a wide exposure to a variety of skills in emerging areas like AI and ChatGPT. “Traditional education is built on kids memorizing facts, but they learn better if they can relate what they are learning to a real-world project or if they are collaborating with others and sharing ideas,” he says. “All our curriculum introduces concepts and reinforces these concepts with a hands-on lab, which allows kids to learn visually and practically—like how technology works in real life.”
This philosophy is pulled through all programs and summer camps, which focus on different topics, including arts and design, coding, gaming and robotics. “We are constantly looking at the industry landscape to see what is changing and what is the newest technology. We revise our curriculum based on what we see,” he says.
View the programs at iCodeSchool.com/Bridgewater.
Kids learn better if they can relate what they are learning to a real-world project.