About Our Instructors
Our instructors are students in the University of Calgary Computer Science program and have trained with Under the GUI in the art of teaching children how to code!
Valerie Kim – Val is a 5th year undergraduate in Computer Science and Communications Studies at the U of C with a focus in human-computer interaction. She is active in the Calgary community, volunteering in crisis centers and running coding booths for FIRST Robotics at Beakerhead and robotics competitions. She also has 2 years of experience as a peer mentor, childcare aide, and daycare volunteer for children with autism. Val writes Python for her data visualization projects, and regularly participates in programming competitions and hackathons.
Safeena Meghji – Safeena is at U of C studying Communications in her 4th year. Safeena teamed up with Val to run the Under the GUI coding booths at Beakerhead and FIRST Robotics Rocky regional competition. She has also volunteered at the Earth Science for Society and the Calgary Public Library’s Reading Buddies program. In her spare time, Safeena uses Ren’Py, the Python based engine to create her own visual novel games. She also creates digital art as a hobby.
Emberlynn Bland – Emberlynn studies Music at the University of Calgary with a focus in Music Production. She is an experienced teacher of computer skills, music, and coding. Her main hobbies between studies are gamemaking and programming. She is highly familiar with modern game design, having Scratch projects at the age of 9, creating maps and mods with Source Engine, to making 2D games in LOVE2D and 3D games with the Godot Engine at 21. She provides one-on-one instruction for drumset with students as young as 5 and has worked with all ages when teaching programming essentials in Python.
Megan Theam – Megan is a 5th year student at the University of Calgary majoring in Computer Science and Visual Arts, focusing in human-computer interaction. She hones her skills in interactive technology design, ranging from from interactive narratives to wearable technology. She is an experienced game developer using Unity, and has 5 years of experience tutoring children and teenagers. Through her many perspectives, Megan is fantastic at identifying the approach that best fits her students’ educational needs. In her free time she illustrates professionally, fawns over her cats, and loves to travel.
Jacob Whitford-Bender – Jacob is a graduate from SAIT’s IT Computer Systems program, where they actively volunteered in their honour society and became the official tutor for their major. Since then, Jacob has been developing automated typesetting systems for Zines, working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and helping set up the first Calgary academy. Jacob has been working with children and teenagers for five years, facilitating and guest speaking at conferences for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. As a published poet, Jacob tries to write everything—including code—with elegance and readability.
What Our Students Will Learn
Under the GUI Academy is a Canadian private educational group with a focus on STEM for Grades 1 – 12. The UTG curriculum adheres to the STEM philosophy with its integration of the core STEM subjects through app development, technology, digital media, and real life applicable skills. We aspire to inspire our students to think critically and innovate with technologies on the fringe of our hi-tech culture. We want our teachers to encourage students to expand their creativity through the creation of video games, and apps using the same tools used by professionals in the field. “GUI” stands for [G]raphical [U]ser [I]nterface, or the Graphics. By getting Under the Graphics, we learn about the processes that control it. As the developer of their game, students have the opportunity to take full autonomy in their learning as they progressively master their skills in the tech field. Our program goes beyond Scratch into languages like C# and Java and has been iterated on for years to make sure students are prepared for future opportunities coding may lead to in their lives and creations!
How We Make it Fun!
Learning with purpose. So often our education has become rote memorization and muscle memory, and does little in the way of giving students a purpose outside of good grades, and doing it “right”. The philosophy of UTG Academy is giving students a sense of purpose. We want to provide students the tools to take their ideas and self-direct their learning paths, while being very careful to fuel their interests without squandering it. We borrow our ideas from Finland’s educational system, where there are no tests, little homework, and education is mostly self-motivated. Many times students with interests in Math or Science have their interests muted by the educational mandates to do well on tests and get good grades. Our approach endeavors to support our schools through teaching students in our own very special way – with purposeful, self-motivated learning principles.
Parking and Spark Admission Included
Your registration fee includes 14 classes each 90 minutes, parking and admission to the TELUS Spark Center for the day after your class.
We run courses in Python, Unity and Computer Science. Our lessons are intended to guide students towards university-level coding practices and algorithms. Each level consists of two 4-month semesters that progressively teaches students all the things that make computers tick. These range from simple mobile applications to full virtual reality games.
- Level 1 – Python Basics (Ages 7 – 8)
- Level 2 – Python Intermediate (Ages 9 – 10)
- Level 3 – Python Advanced (Ages 11+)
- Level 4 – Unity C# Beginners (Ages 14+)
- Level 5 – Unity C# Intermediate (Ages 14+)
- Level 6 – Web Development (Ages 14+)
- Level 7 – Computer Science Intermediate (Ages 15+)
- Level 8 – Computer Science Advanced (Ages 15+)
Python 2D Coding
C# Unity 3D Graphics
Step-by-Step Game Guides
Parent and Student Testimonials
“Sophia’s experience at UTG has been fantastic. She started a year ago, and is still eager to come to class every week, proud of the programming skills that she’s learned. She’s had a great time creating her own games and watching other people play them. It’s great encouragement seeing others play what you’ve created yourself. She’s enjoyed the supportive, friendly atmosphere that the teachers provide, and the instruction seems to move at a perfect pace for her. I have been impressed with the welcoming and positive atmosphere at the school. The instructors have been friendly, informative and always approachable. They’ve really taken an effort to get to know Sophia and support her in her learning. As a parent, I like the fact that my daughter feels enabled to enter the world of computer programming. The logic and math skills she learns enrich her basic school curriculum, teaching her different ways of thinking about things. Programming is a skill that most kids should learn something about, akin to basic computer literacy and that’s one of the reasons we’ve enrolled Sophia. I also think that the class functions as an enriched curriculum that teaches skills children don’t learn in the public school classes, with enhanced logic and math skills. As the parent of a daughter, it’s so encouraging watching her learn that computer programming is not just for boys, that she is equally able to learn the skills and have an interest in this area. I’d love to see more girls join up!” – Tricia B. (Parent)
“Xavier has been learning programming at Under the GUI for almost two years now. What started as an interest in Minecraft has turned into a passion for writing code. The staff and instructors are professional and maintain a comfortable learning environment; Xavier looks forward to attending his course every week. His interest in programming has also pushed him to practice at home, and even learn math concepts ahead of his school curriculum. The courses at Under the GUI feel like they’re preparing Xavier for industries of the future, where understanding code will likely be a major asset.” – Damian K. (Parent)
Calgary Spark Center Semester Cost
The 11 week course registration fee is $569 plus GST. We encourage students to bring their own computers. We will help you set them up with the coding platforms we use in class. If you do not have a computer, let us know and we will arrange for a computer you can use. Minimum target class size is 10 students. Classes run once per weekend and are run on Saturdays and Sundays. Click here to pick a time and course!
Rooms: Studio 3, Lab 1 and Lab 2
Times: 9AM to 5PM on Saturdays, 9AM to 4PM on Sundays
Class times: 9 AM to 10:30, 11AM to 12:30, 1PM to 2:30, 3PM to 4:30 (Sat only)
Location: TELUS Spark Center 220 St. Georges Dr. NE, Calgary, 403-817-6800
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org, 403 667 1745
UTG Calgary also offers professional services for events and training off site from our facility at TELUS Spark. In the past we have partnered with Public Libraries, Teachers Unions, Public School Boards and STEM Charities to provide children’s coding activities and would love to talk with you about your ideas for helping develop Calgarian Kids Coding skills.
Some examples of activities and events we provide include:
- Hands on workshops for teachers & educators on how to teach a children’s coding class (90-120 mins)
- Hands on workshops for students introduction to coding in Python with a single instructor (120 – 180 minutes)
- Hackathons where experienced programmers compete for prizes for the best rapidly developed app (full day)
- Game jams where students team up in groups with an instructor to create their own beginner video game (1/2 – full day)
- Coding booths where kids drop in and create their own video game using an online tutorial. They can save their projects and come back to work on their game any time. (multi-day)
- Custom solutions for your own ideas 🙂
Please contact us to discuss ideas for your organization and we can provide a proposal and cost estimate.