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Local

CodeCraze classes in Batavia help youth go high-tech

Business offers wide-ranging services, training

BATAVIA – CodeCraze is the brainchild business of sisters-in-law Brooke and Jennifer Luetgert of Batavia.

The company's services range from computer programming, game design, drone making and robotics classes for youth to designing and hosting business websites and helping students win an edge in taking the SAT.

The business concept was born from the duo's perceived lack of continuity in technology enrichment courses for youth, as well as their desire to pursue gratifying careers that also would benefit their own seven offspring and be flexible enough to accommodate family life.

"It grew out of a discussion that Jennifer and I had in her kitchen," said Brooke Luetgert, who grew up in Geneva. "Our children love all the introduction to technology programs [including] robots –  nothing in the area … offered building of skills over time."

The two women, both co-owners and managers of CodeCraze, purchased property for their makerspace at 1001 E. Wilson St., Suite 140, near Raddant Road. A former medical office, it's totally accessible and offers ample parking.

They went to a knowledgeable source as they planned equipment purchases, running them by Jennifer Luetgert's 11-year-old son for kid-approved product testing.

When they showed him a portable monitor they were considering, he warned them it could tip easily and that fragility was among its shortcomings.

"We immediately were able to order different equipment," Brooke Luetgert said about catering to students from elementary age to high school. "We have children [who] can enjoy their time [and not have] to worry about breaking electronics."

The duo want their students to push the envelope, in line with the company motto: Dream it. Build it. Share it.

"Our target group will eventually be junior high and high schoolers, but for right now, we're really enjoying elementary school kids," Brooke Luetgert said. "They have such a strong desire to create."

The women bring different backgrounds to the business. Previously working as a nurse, Jennifer Luetgert relied on the applications of high-tech programs to medicine and health.

Brook Luetgert, who attended Wellesley College, was a professor of statistics and research methodology with a wealth of international expertise.

"All of my graduate students had [to] program for data collection and analysis," she said.

She said CodeCraze is not about the pure art of programming, but about what it enables.

They teach coding including Python, which they describe as a programming language that is particularly accessible – close to the grammar of common English with a syntax that is logical, forgiving, flexible and powerful. Brooke Luetgert said its compact language is useful for everything from data analysis to programming robots.

She said that students who learn a language like Python can switch from simply downloading a computer game to deciding, "I'm going to create the computer game I always wanted to have with images I've animated myself … [or I'll] create my own version of a robot vacuum cleaner."

In honor of Batavia's Bulldogs Unleashed project, CodeCraze students are creating their own bulldog sculpture through 3-D printing and will add robotic components.

To better shape course offerings, Jennifer Luetgert said they listen to the kids discuss what interests them.

While classes focus on science, technology and engineering, they also incorporate the arts. A recent workshop had children designing and creating their own fidget spinner from acrylic and bearings. A new program will discuss extreme lightning and how it works.

"Kids will learn different methods of creating lightning at home in a safe manner," Brooke Luetgert said, noting that safety is foremost for the two mothers.

She said students learn how to use the machinery safely, and no projects involve lead or dangerous chemicals; they are always supervised by at least two adults with university education.

CodeCraze also offers SAT preparation designed to reduce the stress of the test. It provides students the chance to take multiple full-length practice versions of the exam. Their scores are analyzed to pinpoint areas that need improvement.

In addition to workshops, CodeCraze offers after-school enrichment sessions from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. or 4 to 6 p.m., and will have full- or half-day camps during extended holiday school breaks.

Each class costs $20, with discounts offered for prepayment. To see the full range of workshops and services, visit codecraze.com, call 630-828-5566 or go to Facebook.

Another specialty of CodeCraze is designing and hosting websites.

"We do have so many stay-at-home moms [who are] artisans, writers – that are so creative and [talented who] would benefit from a stronger online [presence]," Brooke Luetgert said.

CodeCraze will share ways to promote one's business online and can teach the technical skills required or provide the service.

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