Meet Our Mentors – Ryan Hermstein

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Ryan is a sophomore at Stanford and has been a kids coding mentor since October 2014. He works with one of our older students creating a mobile game for two sessions a week. Ryan is excellent at constantly maintaining the right difficulty and making advanced topics fun!

When did you start programming?

I started programming my sophomore year of high school. I was very fortunate that my high school had a computer science program. I only enrolled in computer science to fulfill my tech credit, but instantly fell in love with the subject. I wish that I had been exposed to it sooner!

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

So they can be exposed to it in a fun and supportive environment. Sometimes, people don’t experience programming until high school or college and they may have a bad teacher or be too concerned about their grade to really enjoy it.

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

I really like it when I tell my student that he is programming things that college students are also working on. It is great to see that he knows he is learning concepts that will undoubtedly come in handy later on in life. It is also very rewarding when we get stuck and work together to find a solution. The inherent joy that comes with tackling a challenging problem is something that is experienced many times when working through a large program, and I find it rewarding to be able to share this joy with my student.

What is your favorite game or project you have created with a student?

My student and I have made immense progress on a Tower Defense Game that will be released as an app for both iOS and Android. I am really excited to see the finished progress and hopefully people from around the world will download and play his game!

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

Don’t get discouraged. Programs almost never work on the first try and that is normal for every programmer. Programs require a lot of work, but in the end it is all worth it. Also, the possibilities of programming are endless. Don’t be afraid to be creative, express yourself, and create something that you are passionate about!