Meet Our Mentors – Jessica Wong

jessica wong

Jessica is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Computer Science. Before joining Breakout Mentors, Jessica was an already an experienced teacher, including working with high school students to learn robotics. She excels at working with young kids to make coding fun. Since the beginning of the school year Jessica has been working with 3 of our youngest students in Scratch.

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

I really appreciate a student’s creativity when we’re making a game. Their ideas are so inventive and fun, and a lot of this creative energy is applied when we are making their game because it’s something they can truly call their own. Programming gives them a creative outlet; we actually get to execute their ideas through computer programming, and their pride in their finished product is extremely rewarding to me.

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

Even today, programming comes off as some sort of really difficult, weird thing when you are first exposed to it. It can be intimidating, and I think starting young and having fun with programming (rather than diving into a formal, intensive course in high school or college) will allow kids to ease into the world of programming and really benefit from the experience. There are a lot of problem-solving and analytical skills that I see kids gaining from learning how to program. These skills are crucial and not immediately intuitive; they are applicable to many different fields outside of Computer Science.

Also, computers are getting more and more prevalent in society – think about all the website, programs, and phone applications you use on a day to day basis! Getting a head start on understanding the fundamentals of programming is very valuable.

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

It can be hard! It’s frustrating when you’re trying to solve a problem and things don’t go the way you intended them to. Programming is really fun, but learning the fundamentals of programming is a continuous process that requires a lot of time and commitment. Work on projects you are excited about and challenge you, and don’t be discouraged!