Summer Code Jam Winner: Andrew Uses Strategy in His Code

Summer Code Jam Winner: Andrew Uses Strategy in His Code

Our 2020 Summer Code Jam has come to an end (although the grand prize winner is still to be announced!). We’re so impressed with the tens of thousands of submissions from throughout the summer and so excited to talk to some of our winners about their awesome projects and experiences with Tynker!

Andrew is a Week 7 Code Jam winner, an 11-year-old from Kansas who can solve the Rubik’s cube in 20 seconds! He’s been playing drums since he was seven and just started playing the piano a year ago — Andrew is also an avid chess player and has even won prize money in competitions!

When Andrew grows up, he has aspirations of becoming an engineer. His favorite subject in school is math because it comes naturally to him, and he appreciates that it always provides a straight answer. 

How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? I got introduced to Tynker by my dad. I already was interested in coding a little and during the summer my dad showed me this site called Tynker and I tried it out. So after trying it out, I actually liked it so I just did more and more! I started coding about 2 or 3 years ago.

How did you learn how to use Tynker when you were first starting out? When I started Tynker there were a lot of courses, and Tynker just showed me which one to do first. I did a lot of the courses like one of the interactive courses, and this made it a lot easier to learn the blocks. And I learned a lot more after that!

How have your coding skills improved since you started using Tynker? I think it has improved enormously, mainly because of the courses but also if you’re making a project and you don’t know the code block palette, Tynker will have an example and show you how to use each block and what it does!

How did you feel when you found out your project had been featured? I was actually amazed because there are so many other people that submitted, and I didn’t think I would win!

What is your favorite project you’ve made so far and what do you like about it? I think it was my spaceship project because there are so many parts to it! Also it took me a long time to solve some problems, but after I finished it, I felt accomplished!

Where did you get the idea for your favorite project and how long did it take you to make? Part of it was the example that the Tynker dev team made. Also, there’s another project where you could shoot too!

How do you get inspiration for your projects? Sometimes I look at other projects to get some inspiration. One time I was stuck on a problem but I checked out some other projects that helped me out. So I would definitely check out all the projects!

Why do you like to code? It’s just fun and I feel good after I make things work!

Do you have a favorite code block? One of my favorite blocks are the variables! There are so many parts you can use it like a counter, like a score counter variable, those variables can do almost anything!

What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? After my project is done I usually show it to my dad and he gives me what he thinks would improve it and after if I need to debug it, I will. After I think it’s finished, I publish!

What are you planning to make next? Right now I’m learning Python, so I want to make something with Python!

What’s the best thing about Tynker? One of the best things is that the courses help because without them we wouldn’t learn very much. 

How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? Definitely, because it prepares me for a future because it will help me later and with problem solving and also it’ll help me with jobs and also thinking outside the box!

Do you think other kids should try coding? Yeah! I think they should definitely try coding, but some people don’t like coding because it looks complicated but after you get to know a little it gets fun and then you want to learn more!

What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? I’ll just say, have fun and if you face obstacles, you can ask for help. Other than that, don’t stop!

How did you come up with your Code Jam idea? I got the idea from the example that you guys show and then the other part was just from me!

Have you done a Tynker Code Jam before? No, this is my first one!

How long did it take you to complete your project? It took me about 2 hours.

Did you have any interesting challenges that you had to figure out? So, there’s this thing in Tynker when you run a code, it runs into the right and there’s a variable and it equals one and when it runs if that equals one, then it runs and it changes the variable to two. And there is another block that runs variable equals two, but if you’re watching instantly everything happens. So, variable one equals one and if you change the variable to two which would also run the next one, you would have had a delay. So, that was what I couldn’t find for a long time!

How did you feel when it was over – how excited were you, did you share it with friends or family? I was kind of glad because I spent so much time on it!

Are you going to do other Tynker Code Jam Challenges? Yes, I did them all!

Do you like to code and will you keep learning more about coding? Yes! I’m learning Python right now!

Andrew’s dad, Peter, joined the conversation to speak about all the benefits and skills his son is learning from code and the Summer Code Jam. “I introduced him to Tynker a few years ago,” Peter said. “I signed him up for a lifetime account and at first he didn’t do much coding, then Code Jam came out this summer and his project was good, so I encouraged him. I thought it was a good plan where you guys have one every week, so I’m really happy that he is interested.”

Peter loves that Andrew is learning a lot from Tynker and encourages him to get to the next level: Python. “I told him yeah he’s fully ready for the next level in coding, Peter said. “I thought, it’s finally good so I said yeah let’s do that and so he’s doing the training right now on that.”

Peter also gives him feedback and what he can improve on whenever Andrew finishes a project to help sharpen his skills. 

Peter sees more skill-building tendencies in Andrew saying, “I think he’s eager to learn more. And if he gets stuck he will be patient. This is what it is when you code, it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. You have to troubleshoot it too so being patient does help a lot – willing to learn new things, learning to work, to modify and make it better.”

As far as if Peter sees Andrew being better-prepared for the future, Peter loves his eagerness to learn more. “I’m happy that he’s willing to learn more, we have to make more time to learn Python,” Peter said, “It’s good that he has more time to focus on programming and coding and learn something new and productive and I think he’s quite good with computers!”

We want to thank Andrew and Peter for taking the time to talk about their experience with Tynker! Congratulations again to Andrew for being a Week 7 winner! We are looking forward to more projects from Andrew and encourage him to learn more Python. 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.