Students learn STEM through building apps for Minecraft at Code Wiz



Cousins ​​Avintha and Nihitha hope to create a mental health app to support their community, specifically gearing the technology towards high schoolers and teens.

The high school students, part of Westborough’s tech-focused Code Wiz, realized that with the stress of the pandemic on top of their own mental illnesses, such support was needed.

“They decided they wanted to help their community because they did a lot of research and found there were no mental health apps specifically for teens,” the Code Wiz director said. , Madison Ducote. “They are normally for everyone or intended for adults.”

Avintha and Nihitha will showcase their creations and work through Code Wiz at Technovation Girls, a competition for girls around the world to learn and apply technology to real-life situations. while working remotely from Texas,

Code Wiz, which has offices in Massachusetts and New Jersey, helps kids develop their interests in robotics, technology, game development, and programming through lessons.

“I’m so happy with these two very, very smart and driven high school kids,” Ducote said. “We meet with them twice a week. They’re so driven and they want to help their community, and I love that they’re taking those themes and concepts and helping the community.

The Westborough branch of Code Wiz, which opened just before the pandemic began, encourages all of its students to strengthen their team-building and problem-solving skills as they work both collectively and individually on projects.

“One of our students made a PokeDeck,” Ducote said. “He created a robot that when you put a picture in a slot, can identify what Pokemon it is and give a description of it.”

Students complete projects in the hope that their work will later lead to world-changing technologies. Coaches are trained for the specific classes they teach.

“A lot of times they come in and they say what they want to do today,” Ducote said. “The coach finds how to let the student dictate the class even though the coach is still getting them to those program points.”

Ducote added that the skills students inevitably learn are transferable to other areas and areas of children’s lives.

The Westborough Code Wiz branch plans to participate in more robotics competitions, in particular the First LEGO League, a competition intended to introduce the STEM field to children aged 4-16 through hands-on problem-solving experiences around the world. real.

Four students recently participated in the organization’s first field trip to the First LEGO League. They worked together for four months to build a robot capable of crossing obstacles. Ducote said they also had to present a project.

“It was a lot of fun,” Ducote said. “We will do this every year… We would love to take part in as many competitions as possible. It’s so much fun to see the students so motivated and to see them excel in the competitions.

The students become so engaged and immersed in the programs. Some, like Ari Johnson, became coaches for other students.

Johnson started as a student at Code Wiz in 2018. He joined the branch in Westford, where he is from, to develop his passion for games.

“I wanted to make video games,” Johnson said. “I started learning Java, then Unity, which is like a big game software.”

At 13, Johnson started volunteering, and now, at just 14, Johnson is a mentor at the Westborough branch of Code Wiz.

“Code Wiz really helped me learn to code,” Johnson said. “I also wanted to be able to help other children learn.”

Johnson teaches remotely, but students can still interact with different visual coding and game programming courses while doing creative, independent projects.

Sometimes the lessons are individual, but more often there is a group of students, on their computers, working with Johnson. He asks each student to share their screen so that they can show what they are working on, but also reflect and work together.

He teaches Roblox, which allows users to create their own games, as well as Minecraft, a 3D video game where players choose how they would like to play the game.

“Kids always love Minecraft. It’s kind of an ageless game,” Johnson said. “Anyone can love Minecraft. It remains so popular for so long.

Johnson said Minecraft was the game that inspired him to get into coding.

“To see their eyes light up when something first works or when they’ve done all this work and solved all these problems or they’ve worked on a problem and then all of a sudden figure it out,” Ducote said, “It’s simply the best.”

With the virtual option, the Westborough branch of Code Wiz was able to accommodate students from across the country. On Tuesday, classes are offered online. Wednesdays are in person at 30 Lyman St. in Westborough.

To register for classes, visit

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