Gabe is the newest addition to our kids programming mentor team. He is a sophomore at Stanford studying Computer Science and first became interested in programming at a similar age to many of the Breakout Mentors students. Let’s hear from him about his first programming experience and his advice for kids looking to get started!
When did you start programming?
I first started programming in middle school, when my older brother taught me how to write some simple code in Flash. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I really wanted to learn how to program a platform jumping game, so I kept bothering him to teach me more. I didn’t have any formal CS education until my senior year of high school, but my experiences in middle school were what originally got me hooked and convinced me to seek out more CS knowledge.
Why is it important for kids to start programming when young?
Programming is much more than a technical skill; it’s a whole different way of thinking that isn’t usually taught to kids. Programming exercises the method of solving a seemingly impossible problem by breaking it down into small, manageable parts and tackling them individually, a way of thinking about problems that I believe is useful in many areas of life. Kids who learn how to program will see benefits in their ability to think critically and use logic to solve all sorts of problems.
What advice to you have to kids learning how to program?
My advice would be that any time spent programming will make you better, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Even if it seems like you’re stuck on the same problem for a while and haven’t made any progress, the act of sticking with it and trying to look at the problem from new angles will exercise your critical thinking skills and your understanding of programming concepts. Plus, once you get your program to work, it will be that much more rewarding!