Carmelle is a junior at Stanford working with advanced Breakout Mentors students. One of her students is learning 3D virtual reality programming on the Unity platform – Carmelle is able to adjust the difficulty to be perfect for the student to keep learning at the right pace!
Why is it important for kids to start coding when young?
I think usually the older kids get, the more afraid of coding they become. The programming world becomes more intimidating, especially for young girls, as more time passes—kids might believe that coding is only for ‘nerdy bros.’ Code touches everyone’s lives nowadays, and it would be great for everyone to feel that they are capable of understanding code and creating their own programs.
Coding is a fantastic way to hone general problem-solving: breaking up a large monster of a problem into bite-size pieces, and usually making a ton of mistakes along the way. Knowing how to create solutions in this way is one of the most valuable skills to have and to instill in high-achieving kids in particular, who become used to getting everything perfect the first time around.
What do you find rewarding about teaching kids how to code?
The light in their eyes when it actually works! They learn so quickly, and it’s great seeing their independence grow over time.
What is your favorite game or project you have created with a student?
I made a virtual reality environment (a jungle) in Unity over the course of a few months with a 13-year-old student, and it turned out amazing.
What advice do you have for kids learning how to code?
Get comfortable with making mistakes. Don’t worry if something isn’t working out right away. In fact, most of the time, it won’t work out right away. You have a ton of resources both online and possibly in person (with your Breakout Mentor, hopefully!). I make silly mistakes, too. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Have fun with it! You’re creating something from your imagination, and that’s really cool!