codeSpark Academy: Computer Science for Young Kids

Grant Hosford | CEO & Co-founder | codeSpark Academy
Grant Hosford | CEO & Co-founder | codeSpark Academy

Creativity is an essential tool for success in life. It helps us solve problems, imagine new products, produce art and find humor in difficult times. Play and creativity have a significant role in education, and professionals have a responsibility to nurture both. We now know from research that children learn best through play and this includes learning how to be creative. So, in spite of some out of date views on education, governments should support and develop this vital teaching of learning through play. Regularly working to combine coding with core subjects like math and English, edtech company codeSpark has produced codeSpark Academy, a specialized learning game that teaches kids about computer science, game design and digital story telling.

codeSpark’s mission is to ignite curiosity about computer science and to turn programming into play. The company’s award-winning computer science education platform, “codeSpark Academy with The Foos”, is specially designed for kids who are aged 5 and up. codeSpark Academy teaches young kids about computer science concepts by letting them program cute characters in a virtual world. The company believes that diverse teams are the most creative and innovative. codeSpark is also a proud participant in Kapor Capital’s Founder’s Commitment to diverse and inclusive hiring. The codeSpark team is 50% women and 50% people of color.

Creative Learning Platform 

codeSpark believes all kids can create incredible things so their platform gives kids access to powerful creative tools for coding games and interactive stories. The company wants every child in the world to have access to a first-class computer science education to help prepare them for success in a future dominated by computers and software.

Some key differentiators for codeSpark Academy are:

A word-free interface that makes the platform highly accessible (pre-readers, visual learners, etc.)

Powerful creative tools that allow kids to design and code their own video games and create interactive stories (these tools were only available to teens and adults previously)

A focus on making sure the platform is as interesting to girls as it is to boys (done with a combination of powerful female characters and the focus on using code creatively)

Power of Programming Tools 

codeSpark Academy is the most used kid’s coding platform in the world and the top-grossing coding platform of any kind on iOS. Kids ages 5-10 use the platform in order to learn fundamental computer science concepts. codeSpark is used at home and in schools and has an unusual business model. Over 60,000 K-5 teachers use codeSpark Academy in their classrooms for free to teach computer science while parents pay a subscription to access the platform directly at home. The company’s product team adds new content and features to codeSpark Academy every 3 to 4 weeks. The company is very proud that 54% of codeSpark’s users are girls, the highest percentage on any coding platform. High visibility partnerships for codeSpark include being part of Apple’s global “Everyone Can Code” initiative and the launch of nine new coding merit badges for the Girl Scouts this past July.

Free Solutions 

The platform is free for public schools, libraries, and non-profits. Home users can purchase access via a subscription. codeSpark lets public schools use codeSpark Academy for free, so that all kids can have the necessary access. If parents want to use codeSpark Academy at home, they can purchase a subscription. Teachers and subscribers get full access to codeSpark’s industry leading lesson plans, projects and other resources.

Enabling Education Accessiblity Everywhere 

codeSpark’s App has been downloaded over 14 million times and has been used by 30 million kids around the world. The company designed the platform to be available across all devices (Android, iOS, Amazon and Desktop/Web). So, kids always have new challenges and activities to engage with. The game is self-directed and the interface is 100% visual so anyone, anywhere in the world can play, including pre-readers. In 4 years, over 30 Million kids in 190+ countries have used codeSpark Academy.

Largest Community of Kids 

codeSpark is razor focused on building the largest community of young kid creators in the world. Currently kids are designing and coding over 1 million video games and interactive stories every month! The company knows that if it keeps listening carefully to the customers and keeps improving its tools, it will have the global impact it is pushing for. codeSpark will also continue to pursue smart partnerships with like-minded companies that can help them grow and prosper.

Strong and Sharp Leader 

In 2013, the CEO and Co-founder Grant Hosford’s young daughters wanted to know how computers work. Inspired by their curiosity he tried to find an “ABC’s of computer science” for them and was shocked to learn nothing existed. Grant thought computer science should be taught like English and Math, with a clear progression from Kindergarten through High School. He also thought learning about computer science should be fun and focus on creation. So, he connected with an incredible Cofounder, game designer and father of three, Joe Shochet, who shared his vision and they launched codeSpark in March 2014.

Grant had the original idea for the company and he and Joe still set the vision today. Grant is very involved in the global movement to teach young kids about the fundamentals of computer science. In the last year, he has spoken about the need for STEM education at a young age in Beijing, Washington DC, and London. He also writes blogs quite frequently and recently posted a piece about why kids as young as 5 know how AI works.