Student Life

UWF Innovation Institute and CoderDojo Pensacola award first achievement belts to ninja students

Yesterday, CoderDojo Pensacola awarded seven “ninja students” USB white belt wristbands at an awards ceremony held at UWF Innovation Institute. The ninjas were awarded belts for attending five classes and demonstrating the ability to program their own interactive stories and animations.

The CoderDojo initiative is part of the Innovation Institute’s efforts to engage students in immersive science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, experiences. By involving them in STEM education early on, the Institute hopes to build a solid pipeline from elementary to college and prepare them for future careers in high demand fields, such as IT and cybersecurity.

Ranging in age from 6 to 11 years old, the ninjas learned how to code using Scratch, a programming language designed by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively, which are essential 21st century skills in the progressive fields of IT and cybersecurity.

The USB belts, which are worn as wristbands, contain memory chips at the open and closure part of the band. The size of the internal memory chip depends on the belt color, which is used as a rank marker. Courtesy of Beck Property Management, the eight belt series begins with a two gigabyte white belt and progresses up to a 32 gigabyte black belt. With four more classes offered this year, and new classes beginning in January 2015, ninjas are offered numerous opportunities to code and earn belts.

“UWF Innovation Institute, with the support of our community partners, including Silver Bullet Technology, Beck Property Management, AppRiver and GBSI, are proud to support these young achievers and congratulate their recent accomplishments,” said Dr. Pam Northrup, executive director of UWF Innovation Institute.

CoderDojo is an open source, volunteer-led movement that establishes free, non-profit coding clubs and sessions for elementary, middle and high school students. To date, there are more than 480 clubs in 48 countries. Pensacola’s dojo is the first in northern Florida with other clubs in Tampa and Miami. For additional information about the global CoderDojo movement, visit

CoderDojo programming classes are held at the Innovation Institute, located at 321 North DeVilliers St. in downtown Pensacola, on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month. For local information, including a class tutorial walk through, visit

To register for classes, visit the CoderDojo Pensacola Facebook, Classes are limited to 20 students and are open for registration after each class is completed. To learn more about CoderDojo Pensacola, contact

For additional information about the UWF Innovation Institute, visit