Our 2020 Summer Code Jam has come to an end (check out all the winners). We’re so impressed with the tens of thousands of submissions from throughout the summer and excited to talk to some of our winners about their awesome projects and experiences with Tynker!
Next up is 13-year-old Tito from Lagos, Nigeria. Tito’s relatively new to coding, and this passion joins a host of other ones, like writing comics, swimming, and playing golf. His favorite subject in school is math, and when he grows up he wants to use it to further his career!
How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? My mom introduced me to Tynker when she wanted me to teach my little sisters to code! Then she told me about the Summer Code Jam challenge and that’s how I started knowing about Tynker.
How did you feel when you found out you were a winner? I didn’t believe it! My mom and I both thought it was a fraud. We found out on the live stream. I was very surprised. I really didn’t think I was going to win anything at all! I just started using Tynker for the competition.
How do you get inspiration for your projects? I just force my brain to think of anything to do at all!
How long did it take you to complete the project? Two days, at least.
Did you have any interesting challenges that you had to figure out – like how to move legs or add the right music? Yes, week 8, I really had a problem with that one. What I was trying to do was really difficult.
Are you going to do other Tynker Code Jam Challenges/weeks? I did all of them! I liked the pop music one the most, week 6. That one was also my favorite project that I’ve made. I liked how I was able to use songs that I really liked.
Why do you like to code? I like to code because I like the idea of being able to create many things using computers; apps, modifications for video games, programs, all that.
What is your favorite way to use code? Do you have a favorite code block? I think my favorite code blog is the events block because they’re the easiest to use and the most important ones.
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? Do you debug it? Show it to someone? Publish it? I let my sister see it when I’m done with it and then I submit it to the Code Jam!
What are you planning to make next? My comics! I’m making a comic. I want to try it, if I feel like I can do it.
What’s the best thing about Tynker? The code blocks in general! It’s very user-friendly.
How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? It will help me create apps later on and also help me become a good software engineer under some electric companies.
Do you think other kids should try coding? Why’s that? Yes, I think it’d be a great influence for kids who love computers and games, to create your own.
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? Well, my advice would start off by simply teaching them how to use the blocks for any particular project. And then just play around on Tynker and see what they love, really!
What do you want to do with your prize money? I was going to buy a headset!
Bonus: What’s a fun fact about you? I’m really creative with a lot of stuff! I also love to design. Where we live we’re very limited with facilities and I wish I could learn more and experience more things I never even knew about.
We also sat down with Tito’s mom, Valerie, and got her perspective on Tito’s learning to code. “He’s a very creative person,” Valerie told us. “I see a lot of talent in him. He loves design, he loves coding, he really loves those kinds of challenges. In fact, he does a lot of things, writes a lot of stories.”
Tito’s very new to coding, and Valerie admitted they were all surprised and delighted when they heard he won. “We were shocked, so surprised, because he’s just a beginner. He just loves it. And I just told him: ‘You’re very good at STEM. Why don’t you just try this?’ His cousin, who goes to school in America, actually introduced us to Tynker. So, I told him, ‘Okay, why don’t you try this site and see?’ so he just looked at it for a couple of days and before you knew it, he started coding! He’s just a beginner, so I’d like him to learn more because he’s got great talent and creativity skills. So, I don’t know what’s next for him after this really. It’ll be nice if he’s led in a good direction!”
“Of course, I feel very, very excited and really inspired,’ Valerie continued. “I’m proud of him, because this is something I would have loved to do when I was a child. We didn’t have things like this then. So, I’m so happy seeing him getting interested in this thing, developing himself, being able to code. In fact, he’s kind of teaching me, so even I’m learning from him! Even his kid sisters are so excited too, you know. They also did their only two projects in Tynker!”
Valerie told us she provides Tito support in every way she can. “I always try to say, whatever you’re doing, you can run it with me first. I try to support him by being a mentor, you know, trying to help him see beyond the obvious. I try to provide the facilities for him to be able to do it because it doesn’t come easy in my country. You know, sometimes we can be deficient when it comes to the Internet and things like that. So, I try to make sure I make those things available for him. I give him a conducive environment to be able to do these projects and make sure he’s in a quiet place.”
In fact, Valerie says one of her biggest contributions was reminding Tito when Code Jam deadlines were coming up. “I remind him sometimes, ‘Okay, this is the third day, what have you done? You know, remember it’s going to end on Sunday.’ I kind of follow up with him, really, I give him so much support. Because at the end of day, he’s still a child and he still needs some form of support, mentorship, and things like and this COVID period, we are all at home. So it’s really a very good thing if a child can use this opportunity to learn coding and AI, artificial intelligence.”
Valerie sees the benefits that coding can provide Tito in life going forward. “I mean, coding cannot be over-emphasized because it’s the way to go for this Generation Z. The little I know, coding is more about thinking, solving problems, bringing things to reality. It kind of follows a sequential pattern of reasoning, and analytical thinking, which leads to problem solving. And that’s what, of course, the world all about, isn’t it? Solving problems.”
We want to thank Valerie and Tito again for sitting down with us, and we can’t wait to see what Tito comes up with next! Happy coding!