Mckenna Channels Her Overflowing Creativity into Code!
Ten-year-old Mckenna’s Tynker projects are the definition of multimedia art! Mckenna is in 5th grade and hails from southern California. Her biggest hobbies are drawing and writing, both of which she incorporates into her coding projects in amazing ways – she told us she makes “character sketches of what a character will be like before I put them in the game.” We were really impressed by her plot-oriented animated projects and games, so we spoke with her to learn more about her and why she loves to code!
What do you want to be when you grow up? I really want to be a cartoonist! I’ve been working on animation a lot lately.
What’s your favorite subject in school? My favorite subject is probably science or creative writing. I love science because I love learning about new things in our world, and I love creative writing because it helps me develop stories so I can incorporate them into as many things as I can.
How did you get introduced to Tynker? I got introduced by my friend Nico! We had Hour of Code at our school, but I was never interested because we had the option of reading in the library instead. My friend Nico told me about Hour of Code and we did it together. It was really fun, and I had an awesome time!
How did you learn how to use Tynker? After the Hour of Code, I loved it so much! Our school has Tynker, so I went to the coding club and got the basics down, then went from there. I’ve been using Tynker for two years. There’s been a lot of changes and upgrades! Tynker’s great, you gotta stick with it.
Do you ever do the courses? Occasionally! I really like making things on my own, but the courses are fun to do in my spare time.
What is your favorite thing you’ve made? My favorite thing that I’ve made is probably the game that I just made – the Story of Blank, but I do have one game that I’m working on. In it, you socialize dogs in the medieval times – it makes sense when you see it! I kind of based the characters on my dogs because I have three dogs. When I make the character sketch, I give them a plot and story and go out on their personality, then draw them and try to incorporate as much of the plot into it as I can.
Do you look at the Tynker community projects? Occasionally! I really like to see what other people make, and sometimes it gives me inspiration for a game.
How do you get inspiration for your projects? I usually write a quick little story and then I’ll build off what I made, and then I’ll kind of get the idea for the game.
What’s your favorite feature in Tynker? Ahh, sorry, I can’t pick! There are so many great things in Tynker!
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? I like going through all the endings that I made because I like to add multiple endings, then I debug all of them, then publish it! It’s kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure. For example, with the Story of Blank, I tried to go with “disobeying the narrator” because usually you have to obey the narrator of the story, so I thought of putting a creative twist on that.
What are you planning to make next? I’m also making this one, I want it to have a very pixilated feel – basically, it’s about a creature whose sole purpose in the world is to make a friend. You get shown around, and there are different modes and stories you can go through with the character.
How do you think learning coding now will help you in the future? I think that if I ever want to make a game or write a story I’ll have experience with plot and coherency, and the basics of making a game if I ever want to make an app.
Why do you like to code? I honestly think that coding just lets me practice what I love and it helps me excel in new things. I like to stay in my comfort zone, but with Tynker I can kind of go outside my comfort zone, but in baby steps!
Do you think other kids should try coding? I honestly think so, yes! You can find your own self in coding! They could come up with so many ideas! You might have millions of ideas in your head but not know a way how to bring them out, and I think Tynker is a really good way to bring out those ideas and express them.
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? Do some of the courses first, and then also just have fun! Just have lots of fun with it! Have as much fun as you can, because if you make a game and then you get bored of it, you’re going to cut corners and it’s not going to be as great of a game as it could’ve been.
Ryan, Mckenna’s father, told us he loves that his daughter is learning to code! “When I found out they had the program at school I thought it’d be great for her, so I encouraged her to do it.” Looking at her projects, it’s not hard to tell that McKenna is bursting with creativity. Ryan agreed, saying, “it’s definitely given her an outlet for her creativity.”
Mckenna went to an after-school coding club for a semester, and Ryan told us how much she loved it! “You could tell which days she had the coding club because she came home energized,” he said. “It wasn’t like ‘Oh, such a long day’ – she was happy, even though she’d been at school for a long time. It’s been really fun for her.” Ryan and Mckenna even spent time exploring the Tynker community together! “The community projects are awesome! We were going through those a week or so ago and she was swiping through and telling me, ‘This is stuff that other people have done.’ It’s all amazing to me! A lot of these kids are very talented!”
In addition to being a creative outlet, coding has helped Mckenna develop more confidence in herself and her work! Ryan explained this beautifully, saying, “At first, she didn’t want to show me any of her projects – she was embarrassed and didn’t think they were very good – but recently it’s been building her confidence. Now she’ll say, ‘Oh hey dad, I want to run this idea past you, check out this project!’ or ‘Check out this character!’ or ‘How does this look, should I change anything here?’ I’m really happy that it’s breaking her out of her shell and giving her more confidence.”
We’re so excited about your current success with Tynker, Mckenna, and can’t wait to see how you continue to evolve. Thanks for speaking with us, Ryan and Mckenna! It was great to hear your perspectives on coding.