Our 2020 Summer Code Jam has come to an end. 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 seventh-grader Gabrielle from Indiana, one of our Week 8 winners! Gabrielle’s favorite subject in school is creative writing, and she wants to be an author when she grows up! She also likes to shoot hoops and code loops as a basketball player and Code Jam winner!
Let’s chat with Gabrielle and get her thoughts on the Summer Code Jam and her experience with Tynker!
How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? Well, I was first introduced to Tynker a couple of years ago in my class but then our subscription time ran out now and we don’t get to do it in school anymore. My mom bought it this summer, so this is my first year actually doing a lot of it and so I’ve just been playing around on it!
How did you learn how to use Tynker when you were first starting out? What are your favorite Tynker courses or tutorials? My favorite tutorials were the basic ones and I used some of other people’s, like how they use different things to make their projects look certain ways, and I took both of those things and combined them together and that’s how I learned how to do it!
How have your coding skills improved since you started using Tynker? I think a lot of the practice that I’ve been putting in, doing the projects almost every day and working on it throughout the summer, and also completing some of the tutorials, has made my own coding a lot better!
How did you feel when you found out your project had been featured? My mom told me that and I was like, “No, that didn’t happen.” She’s like, “Yeah, it did!” It’s crazy, I was really excited! I thought it would have five views like all my other projects, but now it has thousands, so it’s really crazy!
What is your favorite project you’ve made so far? What do you like about it? It’s probably [my winning project] because it’s the one I put a lot of work into and a lot of research into! My second favorite would probably be the one I submitted for the soundscape for week six.
How did you come up with your Code Jam idea? I was actually watching a game show thing, and people kept getting slimed and all that stuff. And I was like, well, wouldn’t it be the same thing if you had something virtual coming at you, so I was like okay I’ll draw this stuff and I’ll make it come at you somehow, so I made it seem a little bit more natural than something just floating right at you. I just wanted to make it be kind of like the game show but you choose your own fate!
How long did it take you to complete the project? About 5 days, 2 hours everyday!
How do you get inspiration for your projects? Most of my inspiration comes from seeing different things. Same thing with my writing. I saw someone did a project where they were using their hands to smash fruit and I thought, well, “What if something was coming at you?” And so using what I learned and using that, I combined my two ideas to make one. It just depends on what I am thinking about currently or what I’m doing. I get ideas from all sorts of things!
Why do you like to code? I like coding because it’s just fun, and it’s easy if you practice a lot! If you keep working you can get better at it, and it’s a good skill for life as well, and I just like it because it’s an activity you can do!
What is your favorite way to use code? Do you have a favorite code block? Right now I like the wait block because I use it so much! It delays things for me, and I just like it because I did a piece where I use music from what I’ve been learning in my piano lesson and I had to use the wait block a lot so I have the right tempo for my music. I use that one a lot and I really liked it because it gives character!
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? Do you debug it? Show it to someone? Publish it? I usually show my project to my siblings because they kind of critique the whole thing for me! They say if it looks bad or looks good and then I usually run it by my mom sometimes, and I de-bug it to see if there’s anything not functioning properly. And then after I find it good enough to be published I publish it!
What are you planning to make next? It just depends on whatever I find! Maybe if I have some tutorial I like and I want to use that knowledge and put it into something, but I haven’t really found anything yet. I just did a draw thing from a spin draw tutorial!
Did you have any interesting challenges that you had to figure out – like how to move legs or add the right music? I had trouble with how to make the choices translate into what happens like linking both of those together. I decided to use keys because I could set up the different reactions with the different keys and so I had to figure out how to do that and how to make it work with the video!
What’s the best thing about Tynker? The best thing about Tynker is that you can do so many things on it. It’s not just one field, you can do AR and you can do spin drawing, and there’s just so many things you can do on it like Minecraft! The world is so huge, there’s something for everyone to code!
Is there anything we should change or add to Tynker? No, I think it is great! It’s improving a lot, like there’s so many cool things being released all the time and I really like that!
How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? The working process of projects has helped me so much. You start off with the idea and then you do a rough draft of it and if it doesn’t work you work and work through the parts that don’t. And you want to make everything function really well. Having the process has helped me work on school projects so far, so I think that is the way that coding has helped me for the future!
Do you think other kids should try coding? Why’s that? Definitely, coding is awesome! Everybody should code, it honestly helps you in life, in all different fields, and it helps you have a good process of thinking and solving problems and stuff like that and every kid could benefit from that!
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? When I was just starting out with Tynker, I kept looking for new things to try because it expands things, and when I came into this challenge, I knew nothing about them. And so if you research something a lot, and if you just stick with your idea, you can make really cool things!
Bonus: What’s a fun fact about you? I try things a lot! I really love trying new things and so, that makes me unique because I go and do a lot of cool things that I never thought I would do! I’m versatile!
“Gabrielle is very creative and Tynker gave her a creative outlet,” Meredith said. During the shutdown, creative outlets weren’t always easy to come by, and Meredith told us that made things challenging with the kids off school. “This summer, especially with other things being shut down or activities that were unavailable, I encouraged all three of my children to do Tynker projects, at minimum once a week throughout their time being home.”
A lot of the parents we’ve spoken to have told us they wished they’d had access to computers at their children’s age, but Meredith was actually an interesting exception. In fact, she’s understood the importance of computer technology from a young age. “I grew up, probably different from a lot of other kids, in that we had computers in our house from a young age. My sister and I ran a computer software program in the late 1980s, so we had computers around all the time and I learned how to do DOS,” Meredith told us. “So, we have always wanted our kids to understand the technology, so that they can be a step ahead in the world today.”
We want to thank Gabrielle and Meredith for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations again to Gabrielle on her achievement. Happy coding!