Naseem is a passionate mentor working with a two students in San Francisco. His background is ideal for teaching kids to code – after dabbling in programming as a kid, he went on to learn the academic side of CS first at Harvard, then UCLA, where he received a Master’s in Education. More recently Naseem is working full time at Moovweb focusing on how best to train users on their system. Let’s hear from him:
When did you start programming?
I started program when I was around 8 using Lego Mindstorm kits. I went to this great program in Cambridge, MA called Build-It-Yourself where we worked on robotics projects made out of a combination of motors, random junk, arts and crafts, and legos. I actually ended up working there when I was older during summer camps and part-time during the year. That’s really what sparked my interest in computer science and engineering and one of the reasons I think programs like Breakout Mentors are so important.
What do you find rewarding about teaching kids how to program?
Teaching kids how to program really puts learning into an engaging narrative. One of the keys to learning is giving the material a context in a real life situation so that it’s both interesting and relevant to the student. That’s exactly what teaching programming does. It’s a combination of problem-solving, critical thinking, math, English and a variety of subjects all packed into an engaging project like making a multiplayer video game. What’s most rewarding is seeing students progress in their learning and enjoying it at the same time.
Why is it important for kids to start programming when young?
It’s important to start programming young so students are exposed to the possibility of becoming a programmer and can seek out opportunities to further that curiosity. For a lot of kids, they might not even know what’s involved in programming until college, and by then they may feel too far behind or too lost in the field. Not only that, it’s a great way to teach students higher order thinking. That’s why the STEM initiatives trending right now are so exciting.
What is your favorite game or project you have created with a student?
My students continue to impress me. Currently my favorite game so far is “The Crab Era” made by my student Nick. He’s only 8! Check it out: http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/12718050/