Pasadena’s codeSpark Academy’s Creative Approach to Teaching Coding to Kids

Pasadena’s codeSpark Academy is gaining national recognition for its creative approach to teaching coding to children.

When Grant Hosford struggled to find educational software to teach computer science basics to his young daughter, he did what any father with 20 years of experience in the tech industry would do: He created his own. Hosford’s app, codeSpark Academy (available on most computers and tablets), teaches the ABCs of coding through fun games and engaging puzzles.

You won’t see lines of actual code in codeSpark Academy. Instead, users (ages 4 to 9) learn the basic logic and systems behind coding languages. Games are used to teach if-then logic, sequencing, loops, and variables—all of which are at the core of computer science. By showing kids that coding is fun and accessible, they’ll be able to approach it with confidence. The app is entirely self-directed and requires zero reading skills, so parents can step away and let their little ones learn.

Hosford set out to create an experience that appealed to kids beyond those naturally drawn to computer science, with a focus on girls like his daughter. Today, STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—are dominated by males, with females making up only 15% of the workforce.

On the flip side, 53% of codeSpark’s users globally are girls. “The first character you see in the app is a girl character,” Hosford explains. “We have more girl characters than boy characters and the girl characters kick butt. They’re ninjas, astronauts, and explorers—things that any kid would want to be.”

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