Harvard-Westlake Hosts CoderDojo

hallieBudding programmers continue to flock to CoderDojo’s popular, volunteer-led classes to learn how to create simple games and applications. The latest session, held at the Harvard-Westlake school in Los Angeles, had young coders using Scratch to build a “breakout”-style game – familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1980s – complete with animation and sounds.

But this CoderDojo session was a little different. Not only was it hosted at Harvard-Westlake, it was actually initiated by students at the school. Ethan Gruman and David Waldenberg, both Grade 11 students who are comfortable with advanced languages like Java and C#, reached out to CoderDojo as a way to spread their technology savvy to younger users.



sherifAided by other Harvard-Westlake students, novice programmers like Hallie, age 9, honed their skills and tested new aspects of Scratch that they’d tried out at home. Other attendees like Liam, Sharif, Iggy and Logan modified the script to create their own unique and visually stimulating versions of the games.



In many ways, Harvard-Westlake was the ideal setting. A notable alumnus of the school is astronaut Sally Ride. And the school is known for its small classes and unique approach to teaching. In fact, this summer, the school will run its first Innovation Camp where students can immerse themselves in an intense eight-week development experience.

volunteersTrue to CoderDojo’s mission, this session demonstrated the best of collaboration and education in action.

A Day With Disney

In October 2013, the CoderDojo LA was treated to an extra special session thanks to our wonderful friends at Disney Animation!

The kids (and parents) were undoubtedly excited with what magic might lie behind the Disney doors. And they did not disappoint, planning a packed day of fun tours, viewings of movie trailers, animation shorts, and special surprises for our mini coders. But the best part about our day with Disney was being able to expose the ninjas to a whole new avenue of where their coding skills may take them!

We’ve often used games for lessons and it’s a quick association for the kids to make with what they’re learning, but it was the first time we’ve really been able to put them face to face with a group of adults making this coding “play” their careers in movies. The amazing volunteers from Disney guided everyone through their fantastical hallways decorated with the latest to come (and planned to be coming) from their creative minds. Kids were able to hear first hand what it was like to work on projects like Wreck It Ralph and the soon to be released Frozen.

And while we had fun lessons for both the beginner and advanced classes, from the buzz of excited chatter you could easily tell it was the environment and the wonderful team at Disney that the kids won’t soon be forgetting.

So a big thank you to everyone who made it out to our October 2013 session at Disney and a monstrous thanks to the fantastic crew from Disney for such an unforgettable experience full of special treats like this fun animation done for all the kids’ names!

Don’t forget to check out Frozen when it hits theaters November 27th!

And enjoy some games while you wait!

A lot to be thankful for at Idealab

Our November session took us back to one of our favorite and most supportive teams at Idealab. As always the wonderful team at Idealab treated us to a perfect weekend for our little ninjas to get some more coding under their belts before Thanksgiving tummies fill them up!

It’s been partners such as Idealab who’ve really made it possible for CoderDojo LA to continue bringing kids and parents together to learn about programming. So in honor of Thanksgiving, we want to say an extra thanks to not only Idealab but all those who allow us to keep coding!


Every month parents patiently wait for the announcement of our next session and fill the RSVP lists in record time! It’s these parents who tirelessly shuttle their little ninjas to our different host partners around LA…

who jump in to lend a hand and who provide unending support of their coder’s efforts and progress.

Sometimes it’s even the GRANDPARENTS who join the coding fun!

So to all our parents AND grandparents, we thank you!


What good would a nonprofit be without its volunteers? We for one know we wouldn’t be much without these guys! CoderDojo LA has been truly lucky to find a fun, energetic group of volunteers from our tireless leaders Una and Shara, to those who have been with us for the last year and those just joining. 2013 has been an exciting year for us with November proving to be no different as a new advanced game was introduced by Kyle Yamamoto and volunteer Jennifer Ellis took on leading her first ever session for the beginners! We can’t wait for what’s in store for 2014!


Last but definitely not least, we want to thank all of our CoderDojo LA Ninjas! Whether a veteran or IdeaLab was their first time, without these guys and gals CoderDojo LA wouldn’t even have a purpose. It’s by far the best part of every dojo to see these energetic (sometimes bouncing) ninjas come rushing through the doors to snag their seats. Their creativity and bravery in taking risks, openness to trying new things, and the way they reach out to help other ninjas never cease to amaze us. It’s true that they’ve really become the biggest teachers in this whole process and we cannot thank them enough for believing in us and coming back each month for a new round of coding!

Miss out on our session with Idealab? Don’t worry! No need to feel like a…

Just access all the coder’s shared projects in the CoderDojoLA Studio to join the fun!

Weekend Inspiration at Idealab

This weekend Idealab generously opened their doors once again and rallied their team in support of CoderDojo LA! And our loyal ninjas did not disappoint. The sessions were packed with beginners ranging from those who’ve never played with coding programs to veterans who’ve been coding and creating games for “a really long time”.

It was a great way to dive back into CoderDojo LA after a fun summer. And for those of you who haven’t been to a Dojo before, we thought this was a perfect session to show you a little bit of what CoderDojo LA is all about!

What can you expect if you become a ninja?

Ninjas of all coding skills!

At CoderDojo LA we have and welcome ninjas with all levels of experience. Some may not have their own computers (that’s okay we have some for you to borrow!). Some may have never heard of Scratch or tried coding, or some may have already been creating and sharing games for years. We welcome all levels! And we promise everyone will find fun ways to test your skills or learn new tricks!

How can this be?

With the help of our awesome team of volunteers! Behind the scenes our fearless leaders Una and Shara and a team of volunteers work tirelessly to make each session happen. We make sure to find fun games and challenges so that we can introduce you to new ideas or better yet, support you with all of the creative ways you can think of bringing your code to life!

But we couldn’t do this without the help of another very special group of people.

The parents.

Every session we’re excited to see more and more parents jump in and get hands on with the ninjas. Sometimes the students even become the teachers, as our ninjas teach their parents what Scratch is all about.

Another great resource are fellow ninjas. Ninjas are encouraged to not only challenge themselves with new lessons, but to help other ninjas develop their skills as well. This is a fun way to make new friends and maybe even meet future business partners? You never know!

But the best part?

Showing off your new skills!

One of our favorite parts of every Dojo is when our ninjas get a chance to show off their coding prowess! We never cease to be amazed by the talented, creative minds and fun projects each ninja creates. Even more impressive is how they fearlessly stand at the front of the room and tackle their impromptu presentations with the ease of seasoned professionals!

So how do I become a ninja?

Easy. Contact us on the site or send us a note at – let us know your information and that you’d like to be added to the email list then look out for our announcements when new Dojos are promoted! Make sure to stop by our Facebook page and Twitter to keep up on all the CoderDojo fun too!

Happy coding and we hope to see you soon!

Next CoderDojos: March 2 at Google LA, March 9 at General Assembly

The sixth CoderDojo in Los Angeles will be hosted at Google LA in Venice, CA on March 2nd 9 AM – 12 PM.

Sign up here!

We have also partnered with General Assembly to hold a CoderDojo on March 9th in Santa Monica, CA on March 9th 10-12 AM.

Sign up here!

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