Berkeley is a first year PhD student at Stanford and works with some of Breakout Mentors’ most advanced students. With his extensive experience he is perfectly suited for introducing computer science topics to students that have been quickly advancing their programming expertise. For example, one middle school student he mentors is creating his own programming language! Let’s hear more from Berkeley:
When did you start programming?
In second grade I was curious to know how computer software worked, and got started with the QBasic programing language. I loved the idea of specifying instructions that a computer could follow perfectly logically. Later I learned to build user interfaces in Visual Basic, and then moved on to Real Basic and Java.
Why is it important for kids to start programming when young?
Programing is a new literacy. To be able to program is empowering, and it transforms challenges of “why doesn’t the computer work?” into the question “what can a machine do for me?” Beyond the practical advantages, programing opens realms of intellectual discourse, encouraging kids to think creatively, not just logically. I imagine programing will become a basic skill in the new world, not far more advanced than reading and arithmetic — and it’s best to start young!
What advice to you have to kids learning how to program?
The most important rule is to never give up. Often you will find a seemingly insurmountable challenge, but the best thing is to keep going. There is a world of resources at your disposal to learn more — and the more you face challenges the more you learn!