Meet Our Mentors – Tao Ong

Tao began as a kids coding mentor his sophomore year at UC Berkeley. He is from Singapore and even though he just started coding in college, Tao has a wide array of applied programming experience already. His patient style makes learning complex concepts approachable for his students.

When did you start to code?

I started to code when I was 18, once I started college. Initially, I was intending to major in Sociology or Economics, but after taking an introductory Computer Science class I knew that this was what I really wanted to continue doing.

Why is it important for kids to start coding when young?

With technology becoming more and more relevant in our lives, there’s really no reason not to! It does wonders for your problem solving skills and it’s just an immensely useful and practical skill.

What do you find rewarding about teaching kids how to code?

When I was starting to code, I never had a mentor to guide me on correct practices. I felt unsure about everything and was afraid to ask for help, so it took me a long time to build confidence in my own abilities. By teaching kids to code, I feel like I’m able to help others skip that arduous process early, and kickstart them to the part where they’re able to create amazing, useful things.

What is your favorite game or project you have created with a student?

It was a game I created with an 11 year old student which we called Avalanche! It involved having the player dodge falling boulders from the top of the screen. The game was a result of my student playing around with his code when he created Pong, which was awesome because he saw firsthand how versatile his code was.

What advice do you have for kids learning how to code?

I think that the most useful thing you can learn while coding is how to find answers to your questions online, whether this entails googling about a specific bug or asking for help on Stack Overflow. It teaches you how to make full use of the internet and reminds you that thousands of people are going through similar problems. But most importantly, it gives you the confidence to code anything no matter how much you currently know.