Xavier’s Excellence Shines Through His Code!
Meet 11-year-old Xavier from Perth, Australia! He loves field hockey (he’s been playing for nearly 7 years!), drawing, reading, math, playing with friends, and, of course, coding. Xavier gets coding inspiration from his drawings, and he loves teaching others how to code.
Even though he’s only in the 6th grade, Xavier has had several different career aspirations over the years – he’s dreamt of becoming an astronaut, a scientist, or working in tech like his dad! We sat down with this brilliant Featured Maker to learn more about his goals and his experience coding with Tynker.
How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? I’ve been coding for 2 years! I got introduced by doing a project on how to introduce kids to code. I was using one app, but my dad told me to use Tynker, and I found that it was much better!
How did you learn how to use Tynker when you were first starting out? I didn’t do any tutorials – I just went straight into it! I looked at the code and said, “Oh, this looks easy enough.” I started out just doing the dragon thing and the candy one – I got used to what those were, but I’m still learning what everything does!
How did you feel when you found out your project had been featured? I felt amazing! The project was an accident – my best friend dared me to do it and it was just for teaching kids how to code. I didn’t expect it would become a whole big thing!
Where do you get the idea for your project and how long did it take you to make? I just wanted to teach kids how to block code in Tynker because that’s where I started. It took me about 3 days; I was involved in something where you pick a question, research it, and do it. I was thinking about how to make a code game and show it to kids, so I did that and made a spaceship game!
How do you get inspiration for your projects? I just look at movies and comic books. We have a whole book of Marvel characters, and I try to incorporate as much as I can. Sometimes I ask my friends, and I also get help from my brothers. I made a little soccer-themed one with my youngest brother, and he really enjoyed it!
Why do you like to code? I like to code because I can post projects on Tynker. I used to draw, but I found that it’s not as fun as coding. I can work on this game for a few weeks and then post it and let everyone else see it!
Do you have a favorite code block? My favorite code block is “repeat” because you can do loads of things with it!
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? I show it to my friends at school if it’s a school week, but if it’s on the holidays I’ll show my brothers and my mom and dad.
What is your favorite project you’ve made so far? My favorite project is my spaceship one because I was doing it for kids younger than me. My dad introduced me and my class to these robotic balls called Spheros, and now he’s going around to different classes with boxes and getting them to code a maze and get around problems. Last term, my dad came into school and went to my little brother’s class with the Spheros, and all the kids thought it was really cool and they were all fighting over the iPad!
What are you planning to make next? I’m doing something that has to do with the tilt feature, where it follows the tablet’s direction. I got the idea from a playground where there is this thing you stand on and you roll back and forward. There’s a screen on it that’s pixelated, and as you moved, a circle on the screen moved until it became clear. I thought it was really cool so I want to do that in code! I’m trying to work out how to make the circle move around.
How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? It’s prepared me a lot! I used to be the only one in my school that likes coding, but now I got my friends into Tynker. My best friend likes Tynker and he always asks me questions about how to do things, and I like it because I can teach kids what I’ve learned and then they can show other kids what they’ve learned from me!
Do you think other kids should try coding? Definitely! I just started playing games and then I started getting the code and making games like Flappy Bird, a Space Invaders one, and a whole bunch of other games. It’s really exciting and you can learn a lot of things from it. You can just go home and hop on Tynker and build.
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? If you’re just starting and you have no idea what Tynker is, just go into the tutorials and it’ll show you how to do it. Don’t just jump into the games since the other kids that made them did the coding and you’re just playing it. So actually start with the tutorials and getting familiar with the blocks, and then you can start making easy games and follow through with more complex games.
Xavier’s dad, Tony, works in the IT department of a bank in Western Australia. When asked about what he thinks about his son learning to code, he said, “I think it’s great! Through Xavier we started going to schools teaching kids how to code. It’s really cool to do that and to see that it stuck with Xavier, who takes it and create his own thing with his brothers.” Tony understands the struggles that come with coding and knows that resilience plays a big part in the learning process. Tony is very proud of Xavier’s coding accomplishments, saying, “It’s cool to see where his creativity is taking him and just to see that so many other people see his projects and like what he’s doing. I never want him to do something just for the likes, but to be appreciated by people – he’s really proud of that.”
Tony knows that it’s important to support Xavier’s creative pursuits. “I help him find the right thing and guide him through the options, as well as finding the time,” he says. “He needs that kind of balance – when he is on the iPad is he playing a random game, or doing something productive like coding or his homework? And when he has a problem, I don’t want to show him exactly how to do it, but since I’m in computer science I have that thinking and understanding, so I can help him with some inspiration.”
When it comes to coding, there is a certain logical approach that is required from each coder in order to progress and problem solve. “What I’m trying to work on with Xavier is designing something before you code it,” said Tony, “Don’t jump right into the code, just think about the problem, create it on pen and paper, and then code it.” Tony also sees the positive impact of collaboration, noting that Xavier loves to help others code and likes coding with his brothers.
When we asked Tony if he feels that Xavier is better prepared for the future, he said, “Definitely. I don’t know how the future is going to be; he’ll be done with school in seven years and the world has changed dramatically within the last seven years. So, who knows what kind of jobs there will be, but with the skills he’s learning, he will be able to adapt to whatever comes.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Xavier and Tony! We are looking forward to see what kind of projects you will make next, Xavier, and we love the fact that you’re helping others learn how to code, too. Happy coding!