Featured Maker: Lights! Camera! Action! Tessa!

Featured Maker: Lights! Camera! Action! Tessa!

With Tynker’s Holiday Code Jam in full swing, we wanted to continue to introduce you to some of the winners of this year’s Summer Code Jam! Read on, and then check out more about the Holiday Code Jam!

It’s time to meet our newest Featured Maker, Code Jam Winner Tessa, a fourth-grader from Des Moines, Iowa. Tessa’s greatest passion is acting. She loves getting involved with community theatre and loves being on stage. But there’s no playing pretend when it comes to Tessa’s awesome coding skills! It must run in the family, because her big brother Joey was a Code Jam winner too! Let’s find out more about Tessa.

Tynker Questions:

How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? I’ve been coding for a couple months or so, but how I got introduced was my older brother, Joey, he got introduced to it because of our technology teacher. 

How did you learn how to use Tynker when you were first starting out? Joey helped me a lot. He’s like, “This is how you do this, and this is how you do that.”

How have your coding skills improved since you started using Tynker? They got better, because I didn’t code a lot before. I spend more time coding, so it wasn’t just “ok you get 10 minutes,” I had more time to code.

Creativity Questions:

How did you feel when you found out your project had been featured? I was at my grandpa’s camp in Michigan and my mom walked over to me and handed me the phone and then when I read it I was super excited because I won! Joey was excited too. He was really happy! He said he was proud and he hugged me. 

How do you get inspiration for your projects? 

I guess it’s like, lots of my inspirations are like looking at the community projects, looking at them thinking, “that would be a cool idea to make” so I make my own version of that. Sometimes I look at the code too. 

Why do you like to code? It’s just fun! It’s fun to create your own games – you get to look at all these other games, it’s really fun. It’s exciting to know that you can create your own game. 

What is your favorite way to use code? Do you have a favorite code block? Doing art with it. I like creating stuff with it, like making a rainbow or something. Probably the broadcast button because I like it that when you broadcast something it’s able to go for another whole actor and stuff.

What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? Do you debug it? Show it to someone? Publish it? I show it to someone and then I publish it. Depending on what they say, like it’s good or something or like it needs a little bit more work, depending on what they say. 

What’s the best thing about Tynker? It’s really fun and I think I already said this before but you get to make your own games which is also really fun. When I look at the Tynker community projects it’s inspiration.

Is there anything we should change or add to Tynker? Maybe add some more blocks, like really cool blocks.

How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? It’s helping me when I code and stuff I can code stuff like going to school and stuff, so it could prepare me for school.

Do you think other kids should try coding? Why’s that? Yes definitely! It helps them learn and stuff. They can spend more time learning.

What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? Start with really simple stuff and then make your way to really advanced stuff until eventually they’ll be winning millions and millions!

Bonus: What’s a fun fact about you? I like acting a lot. I already said that but I really like acting, being on stage and stuff.

We also got a chance to speak with Tessa’s mom, Mary, who is so proud that her daughter is following in her son’s footsteps. “When she found out that Joey won, she had her own pretty spectacular project too. And Joey won and she found out she didn’t, so the first thing she did was say, ‘Congratulations, Joey. I’m so proud of you!’” 

Mary knew that Tessa was sad not to have won as well, but was impressed that her daughter put up a brave face throughout the whole next week. “The day he was interviewing with you, she was like, ‘Oh, don’t forget your interview is tonight. I’m so excited for you.’ That’s just her, she’s just so supportive. And so now I’m just really happy that she won on her own terms!”

Mary is supportive of her kids, but tells us Tynker makes it so easy for her since it’s self-guided, and Joey’s been a great source of help for Tessa too. “I’m super proud of them. Coronavirus came on. They had nothing else to do. So they decided this is going to be where they spend some of their time. We tried to limit screen time until the coronavirus happened. And then suddenly, there were so many screens, so at least they’re using it in an academic nature. Something that helps them think things through rather than just sitting there.”

We want to thank Tessa and her family for sitting down with us and letting us share in their celebration! Happy coding!

Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.