Ryan has a similar background to many Breakout Mentors students. He grew up in the Bay Area and started coding in middle school with Scratch, just as we recommend for our students. Ryan started as a mentor his freshman year at Stanford, working with students in both Scratch and Java.
When did you start to code?
I began coding in fifth grade, when I took an elective at my middle school to learn the Scratch program. The simplicity and creativity of the Scratch environment had me hooked, and in high school I picked up web development languages HTML and CSS on my own time. Now, at Stanford, I’m beginning to take coding more seriously with introductory courses in Java, C++, and Python.
What do you find rewarding about teaching kids how to code?
My favorite part of the mentoring process is watching students run away with their own ideas, and extend the project beyond its baseline functionality. Helping someone to unlock their creative potential through code, and to become confident in their engineering skills, is an extremely rewarding process.
What advice do you have for kids learning how to code?
My advice would be to always look beyond the minimum requirements for a project. Getting a program to do just what it’s supposed to is great, but how can you go further? Can you add an extra level, an extra hidden feature, or a little more flair to the design? In thinking this way, you make the code your own, and are able to apply your own creative abilities. This process always makes me excited to learn more about coding, improve my skills, and tackle bigger problems.