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!
Up next is 12-year-old Owen, a 7th-grader from Missouri. He’s a creative triple threat — he’s not just into programming, but also videography and graphic design! These talents (and the skills he’s learning with Tynker) will serve him well in his planned future career in IT! Let’s find out more about Owen and his experience with Tynker!
How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding?
My dad knew I was interested in computers and he found Tynker. I’ve been using it for about a year.
How did you learn how to use Tynker when you were first starting out? What are your favorite Tynker courses or tutorials? I used a lot of the tutorials. I really enjoyed it because it was easy to learn and fun to do also. I like pretty much all of them. I really liked the monster coding one where you had to train your monsters and fight.
How have your coding skills improved since you started using Tynker?
Probably a lot with lists and variables, and then also a lot of text coding just because I’ve never done that before. That’s a big reason. I want to use Tynker for the Java and all this stuff.
What is your favorite project you’ve made so far? What do you like about it?
Probably the crazy contraption, the Code Jam one because I think it was fun to draw and then also I’m just excited I won!
How long did it take for you to finish your project?
A couple of days to actually make it then a day or two to actually fine tweak it or fine-tune it.
How did you feel when your parents told you that you won?
Well, we were going to the dentist and I was sad because it was right when I was leaving was when the live stream was for that week. And I really didn’t expect to win. I just posted it for fun. And then we came home from the dentist and I looked up the livestream and I watched it. And I was like, “What, I won!?” and I showed my mom and dad.
How do you get inspiration for your projects?
A lot of times it just pops into my head and a lot of times I like playing games and taking inspiration and mixing them with my own ideas.
Why do you like to code?
It’s something that’s a fun pastime and it also is a hobby and it’ll help me later in my life. And then also is something I can do that’s enjoyable, but also that I can learn too!
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? Do you debug it? Show it to someone? Publish it?
I normally check over it, play it and make sure there’s no bugs. I grab my older brother and ask him to look at it and see if he says there’s anything that could be better, if there’s any bugs he’d play-test it and always tries to break it. And then if he breaks in then I know I need to work on it more and then we do that until there’s nothing he can break. Then I do a little more till I’m happy with it. Then I share it and then normally show it to my mom and dad too.
What’s the best thing about Tynker?
I just like that there’s the Tynker jams and all that stuff, and that you can win prizes. It’s fun that there’s a community. I like looking at other peoples’ projects and also just coding in it.
How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future?
I’m motivated to learn everything I can about computers, especially for going into IT and constantly learning new things.
Do you think other kids should try coding? Why’s that?
Definitely! It’s fun and enjoyable and it’s something to learn and it’s just really fun.
Did you have any interesting challenges that you had to figure out?
Probably the hardest part was just getting it to be where it was the same every time, so I had to tweak it a little bit to make sure that it wasn’t different.
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker?
Follow the tutorials in the beginning, that’ll help. Once you think you’ve got a little handle on it, play around with the projects until you get stuck on something, find another tutorial and just keep doing that until you improve.
Bonus: What’s a fun fact about you?
I have a YouTube channel. I show programming and graphic design, and I play Minecraft. Basically everything I enjoy doing.
We also got a chance to chat with Owen’s mom, Abby, and find out how she feels about Owen learning to code and the progress he’s making. “I love it,” Abby told us. “Obviously, his dad and I are super proud of him. He’s always been such a creative, just-bursting-with-ideas kind of kid. From a young age he was always creating something. So, just having an avenue for him to make things and also knowing he’s using his brain and it’s making him smarter and more prepared for the future. It’s really fun watching the things he can do. Really kind of impressive, because I don’t think I could do it.”
How do you support your child in their coding endeavors? How do you think coding has helped your child in other areas?
Owen’s dad has been really helpful in working and supporting Owen in learning with Tynker, Abby told us. “His dad is much smarter with computers than I am. So, he definitely can help dig into the nitty gritty if there’s problems and but really, I think we just support him by being there for him, for getting him whatever he needs, making sure he’s got the tools,” Abby said. “And I think teaching him the skills like persevering when it’s hard, figuring it out and not giving up.”
“When he was younger, he was always creating board games with whatever he could find, paper and cardboard, and now he can actually put that in an application for the modern day,” Abby said. “We know he’s building skills for his future. Whatever job he ends up in, I’m sure it’ll be computer-related in some way. He’s just going to be so marketable and able to do pretty much whatever you want in life. So I think that’s a huge benefit too.”
Owen’s computer skills have gotten so sharp that Abby has even solicited her son’s help at her own job! “He made graphic designs for my job for things about COVID and crazy stuff going on,” Abby said. Owen designed three graphics instructing customers at Abby’s business on new health and safety protocols as a result of the pandemic. “I didn’t tell anyone other than my close co-workers that it was my kiddo who designed it. I just said, ‘So, if you need changes made, I’ll let the designer know!’”