Creating and Engineering Code with Isaac!
Featured Maker Isaac has many hobbies and interests–he’s an expert on fish, plays several instruments (including the piano, trumpet, and flute), and codes! He is an eleven-year-old from Kansas who has aspirations of becoming a chemical engineer!
With math and science as his favorite subjects, it’s easy to see why Isaac is so good at coding and wants to be an engineer. We had the pleasure of speaking with him about why he loves to code and how he benefits from it!
How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? I got introduced probably at 2nd or 3rd grade. She showed Code.org to us along with Tynker. So, she said we can start coding on those!
How did you learn how to use Tynker when you were first starting out? I really liked doing the symmetry draw. I did that one a lot and I made a lot of different variations!
How have your coding skills improved since you started using Tynker? A lot, I’ve been using variables and all that stuff!
How did you feel when you found out your project had been featured? I was in art class, and I went to my projects and I saw that I was featured, and I was like, “Oh my gosh,” and I told everyone in my class and everybody crowded around!
What is your favorite project you’ve made so far? I made one called Ninja Battle. So, there are 2 ninjas, one of them is you, the other is the A.I. You move it around with 2 buttons, there are 2 attack buttons, one of them is Megaball, and the other is Fireball. So, for you, you throw a fireball, and if 2 fireballs meet, there will be an explosion. When you use a Megaball, it will charge up and it starts small and gets bigger and that increases how much damage it does. And you start with 20 health, that’s what I originally put it as, for each character. Then I started to make it 30 health for the bad guy and 10 for you, because it was a little easy, and I made it a little bit harder!
“Speedy Sky Ninja Battle”
How long did it take you to make? I’d say it took me about 3 or 4 weeks, because I worked on it on and off, not consistently. The inspiration, I don’t really know, I just thought of it one day and thought it would be a good idea.
How do you get inspiration for your projects? Other projects inspire me a lot. I look at the really good ones and think, “How can I make something kind of like this, but a little bit better?”
Why do you like to code? I don’t know, it’s just something I’ve been doing for a very long time, it’s just fun!
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? I show it to some of my classmates and if they think it’s super good and there’s not really any way I can improve it, then I post it.
What are you planning to make next? I don’t know. I was thinking about making one where you set up a fish tank and you buy a fish at a store and feed it. Like taking care of your own fish!
What’s the best thing about Tynker? I like how you can view everybody’s projects! You don’t always have to get the most views and likes to be on featured. I’ve seen some on featured that had 1,000 views and 9 likes and I feel like that jump-starts their viewing.
How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? I don’t know. I feel like some math goes into it.
Do you think other kids should try coding? Definitely, I feel like everybody should give it a shot!
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? Just keep on trying, look at the really good projects and just learn from those and put them in your own projects.
Vince, Isaac’s dad, was able to join us and expressed how a math and computer science teacher, like himself, feels about his son learning to code. “I’ve only been teaching computer science for a couple years. But, how it started for me was actually 3 years ago, our family and another family sponsored a Lego robotics team and Isaac was maybe a year too young to be in the playing field. Until that time, I was teaching math all the time, so through that experience plus some other stuff at school got me started on pursuing teaching computer science. So, what’s funny to me is sometimes I’ll suggest things for Isaac to do, and maybe he’ll go for it, maybe not, but Isaac, personality-wise, is someone who absolutely finds something he enjoys then goes all in with it, whether it’s coding, fish, or making slime, it’s always something.”
Problem solving is something that Vince believes coding helps teach Isaac problem-solving skills: “I’m not sure there’s a better practice opportunity for problem solving than coding. I think one of the benefits would just be sticking with something. Like if it doesn’t work the first time just try something else and see what happens. I think that’ll be a huge advantage for him.” Vince’s perspective on how kids learn comes directly from teaching them: “I think a lot of times in school, students feel like they should know it already, either they know it or they don’t know it, and I think it’s a chance to pursue something – there’s no way that you know everything yet, maybe through the featured projects, like ‘Ohh, I don’t know how to do that yet,’ but, it’s an easy format to learn how to do something you don’t know how to do yet.”
We want to thank Isaac and Vince for taking the time to speak with us! We look forward to seeing more of Isaac’s projects. Happy coding!