Funding will allow for vast expansion of The Foos, a game that uses a “wordfree” interface to teach coding and computer science to children starting in PreK
PASADENA, CA, [10/28/15] – codeSpark, an education company that teaches the ABCs of computer science to children starting in PreK, has secured $1.35 million in seed funding from Kapor Capital, Idealab, New Gen Partners, and several private investors to expand codeSpark’s signature app, The Foos.
The company was also selected for the latest cohort of co.lab, an elite startup accelerator founded by Zynga.org and the New Schools Venture Fund to build transformative educational games. Participation in co.lab comes with a $50,000 investment and connections to the top investor and brightest minds in EdTech.
The Foos uses a “word-free” interface to address the most significant problem in teaching coding: Coding education starts too late. Designed for children as young as 4, The Foos lets kids gain mastery of coding at the same longterm pace that works for other core subjects like reading and math. It also introduces key 21st century thinking skills around algorithmic thinking, pattern recognition, and sequencing that have broad applicability to other core subjects.
This fully self-directed game places kids in a Mariostyle setting and gives them friendly characters to control through visual prompts and commands illustrating the fundamentals of how coding works. As players gain mastery over commands, new options and characters are unlocked for increasingly complex challenges.
“When it comes to teaching coding, students are traditionally thrown into the deep end of this complicated subject before they are taught how to swim,” codeSpark cofounder and CEO Grant Hosford said. “The Foos introduces kids to computer science concepts at a pace that ensures success. Instead of turning them off the way we have in past, The Foos opens their minds to having fun while solving problems and building their own masterpieces.”
Available for free on iOS, Android, the web and other platforms, The Foos has been played by more than 750,000 kids in 150+ different countries. The $1.3 million in funding has allowed codeSpark to grow their core team, expand The Foos to 44 puzzle levels, and develop Foo Studio, a creative platform for making video game levels and animated storytelling. Foo Studio also allows kids to publish their creations to a safe and moderated community of kid builders. Foo Studio will launch in Q4 2015.
Awards and accolades have been piling up for The Foos. The game was recently honored with a Gold Medal from the Parent’s Choice Foundation and Tech with Kids selected The Foos as a Top App of 2015 and their top recommendation for learning to code. The Foos can also be seen on demo iPads in all Apple Stores worldwide.
In recent months, codeSpark has named an educational advisory board comprised of academics and policy makers in primary, secondary and higher education. This advisory board played a key role in the development of codeSpark’s new free and standards aligned curriculum for schools.
codeSpark is a Pasadena, CA, based startup focused on learning games that combine world class design with a dash of silliness. Its mission is to ignite curiosity about computer science and turn programming into play. The company was founded with the belief that all kids are natural builders and programming is one of the most rewarding and powerful ways to build. The co-founders are Grant Hosford, a successful entrepreneur and online marketing expert, and Joe Shochet, a gaming and virtual reality expert who at Disney led design and development for several successful subscription games including Toontown Online. Joe was also part of the original University of Virginia team that created Alice 3D.