Rebeca Rodriguez knelt down and asked a robot to do kung fu.
The robot, named Johnny 5 after the hit ’80s movie “Short Circuit,” responded with a slow raising and lowering of his mechanical arms along with a meditative, “Om.”
The robot is one feature of Code Wiz in Fruit Cove, a business that allows kids to create in the fields of robotics, programming, 3D printing and other tech subjects, Rodriguez said. The business, a franchise, is at 530 State Road 13 Unit No. 5 and northwest St. Johns County.
The business offers after-school programs as well as birthday parties and courses for Girl Scouts.
Schools:When does school start in St. Johns County and 4 other things to know
Priced out:St. Johns County rental options dwindle as rates rise
STEM programs popular in St. Johns County schools
The St. Johns County School District has multiple career academies that focus on science and technology. And students have produced award-winning work.
Students in the Nease High School Stellar Academy of Engineering won a grand prize in the Minecraft Global Build Challenge’s Peace with Nature Sustainable Design competition in 2021, according to an article by Jaime Combs on the district’s career and technical education website. Jack Wilcox, Joshua Becker, Vincent Donnelly and Tristan Bireley were among the winners.
“The task was to design a sustainable city, one that respects sustainable development priorities from their social, economic and environmental perspective, and that allows its inhabitants to live in good conditions and in harmony with their surrounding nature. Student teams from 109 countries entered the competition. Nease’s team and a team from the Philippines were each named grand prize winners after the 10 finalists were announced.”
Building and learning
Code Wiz hosted an open house on Monday. Children and parents gathered for the event to see some of what the business offers.
Rodriguez and her husband, Eliud Rivera, opened Code Wiz in July. She said it is the first franchise to open in Florida.
“We decided on this business because we wanted something we could do as a family that our kids could get involved with that they could enjoy being a part of, and they love this,” Rodriguez said.
Their children are interested in technology, Rodriguez said. Eliud’s son, Marcos, 11, built Johnny 5.
On Monday, kids gathered around a table with laptops and used Roblox, which allows people to build games online, to build virtual obstacle courses.
Among them were some of Stacy Brown’s children: Devin, 15; Mason, 12; and Ellie, 8. The family stopped by to check out the business.
Devin is already more technologically savvy than the average person. He built multiple computers for his family and built his first for himself when he was 11, Stacy Brown said.
“I just learned from people who built them on YouTube,” Devin said.
The business uses “super-fun, highly individualized classes for children from ages 7-17,” according to Code Wiz. “Whether your child is a budding coder or practically running Python in their sleep, we scale the level of difficulty to fit their skill level so that they continue to learn and grow.”
The CEO and founder of the company, Ruth Agbaji, taught herself to code and went on to get a master’s in computer science from Tufts University and to work for Microsoft and Kronos as a software engineer, according to Code Wiz.
“Agbaji’s initial vision was to have a center where an interactive and project-driven approach to technology would inspire kids of all abilities to unleash their imagination and potential,” according to the company’s website.
The regular price for the program is $149 a month. The business is offering a 31.4% discount (in honor of pi) for life for the first 50 families to sign up.
For information, visit thecodewiz.com/stjohns-fl or call 904-719-7490.