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How CodeABot Started
Our founder, Natasha Saunders, went to the opening ceremony of her first robotics competition at Nelson Mandela University in 2013. She took her three homeschooled daughters, who were 7, 9 and 10 at the time. As the speaker for the ceremony shared insights into the future of employment opportunities for youngsters equipped with robotics and coding, her heart was filled with excitement. As a parent, you always want to open doors for your children and you’re willing to do anything for those opportunities. From scraping finances together, driving ridiculous schedules and time table your life down to the last minute of sanity. As Natasha listened, she realised that Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education was a key to her daughters’ future. She reveled at the thought of exposing her daughters to mechanics, electronics, robotics and coding. It was during this time that her visions of a new type of school where learners would be exposed to these areas of learning for the bulk of the school day, was conceived.
After months of research and a leap of faith to jump into a world she had no experience with, Natasha’s vision lead to an exciting journey, which brought us to CodeABot. A Robotics and Coding Centre for kids and teens. This was a bold pioneering move at the time as it was before robotics, programming and coding became the buzzwords that they are today.
Years later, Natasha’s daughters have all represented their province at National robotics events. Two have represented their country at an international event. Natasha’s daughters were not the only ones who have benefited from this journey. We’re proud to say that over 450 learners have learnt coding and robotics through CodeABot.
Where We’re Going
As our learners progress though and complete our modules we see a dynamic and, admittedly, scary future ahead. If you were to picture CodeABot as a model, it would look like an hour glass. Learners at CodeABot get a wide and varied look into coding as they use different didactical systems. As time progresses we direct our learners towards Python as a coding language.
This is where it becomes scary. Python is an open source language, which means that there are thousands of people around the word, that are adding to the coding libraries daily. The focus of all this code varies from gaming, to data analysis, software development, websites, apps and Artificial Intelligence. We allow our learners the opportunity to choose the direction that they would like to specialise in.
In the old system of education we employed a teacher as an expert in each of these fields. The teacher would then be responsible for the ceiling of content learnt. At CodeABot, we will create an environment where the advanced students can collaborate together or just simply hang out as they follow individual learning paths. CodeABot aims to be learner-led with regards to content and act as a facilitator guiding each child through their process of learning.
One of our learners has a robotic arm at home that he wants to master. Another learner has a 3D printer while another learner has an oculus head set that is an inspiring design in Virtual Reality gaming. We can’t wait to get into all these exciting projects with our learners.
Where We Are Today
CodeABot is the trading name of the Advanced Technologies Institute. The centre focuses on teaching mechanics, electronics, robotics and coding to kids. The beginning courses deliberately have a hands-on, interactive or experiential approach to learn coding. The community outreach program of the centre is governed by the New High Trust. The New High Trust is the umbrella for teaching children from vulnerable communities and young employment seekers. It is also the management structure of robotic competitions and inter-school challenges. Events such as the Thymio Collaboration Project, First Lego League Competition and the World Robotics Olympiad can be sponsored by companies through this registered Public Benefit Organization (no 930053808)
Meet the Team
Natasha got hooked on the potential of robotics and coding when she took her own three girls to a competition at the Nelson Mandela University. She is the owner of CodeABot and believes that every child’s potential can be unlocked if you can find the right key.
A homeschooling mom with over 20 years of experience. Her own boys worked on the Simple and Powered Machines curriculum and Lego EV3 Mindstorms code as youngsters. She manages the business financial accounts.
A gamer who has started adulting. He was the first person to join the team and is impressive with PC’s and tech stuff. Although he is self-taught, Keegan is formalising his knowledge through part time studies.
Where to Find us
Due to the impact of Covid lockdown, we have a temporary home in Abelia Crescent in Sunridge Park. Part of the owner’s home has been converted to accommodate the business. A separate entrance with facilities to disinfect and wash hands is available. All visits are by appointment only and most consultations are done telephonically or online to avoid unnecessary exposure of the environment to germs. To avoid traffic and parking issues in the residential area, parents are asked to drop and go. The Sunridge shopping centre is less than 900 meters away and a small park less than 80 meters away is a lovely waiting place for those who wish to not drive.