How to Start Learning Code

This open story on learning code was originally posted on Code.org’s blog.

It is about Gili Rusak, a girl who developed an Android app to help younger girls learn code. If that inspires you to learn, join our mailing list of coding and entrepreneurship resources.

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Earlier in her high school career, Gili developed an Android app called Codester which helps kids learn computer science. This year, the high school junior received NCWIT funding and partnered with Girls Inc. to host coding workshops for elementary- and middle-school girls!

Tell us about your app.

Codester is a level-based game app that aims to teach young students or novice programmers computational thinking and computer science concepts. I ran math outreach programs for several years and one day I thought, “why not computer science too?”

Why computer science?

The first time that I ran a prototype of my app on an actual smartphone was extremely rewarding! When you see the finished product it is sometimes easy to forget the hundreds of lines of code that go into making the app itself work. But when you develop the app yourself, you see the code and the outcome.

Programming is such a useful and empowering tool and I am so happy that I have gotten into it.

Programming is such a useful and empowering tool and I am so happy that I have gotten into it.

What is it like teaching younger girls computer science?

The younger students teach me at the same time as I teach them. I’m amazed when 7-year-olds are utilizing the app that I had made!

I found that at a young age, the gender and race barriers melt. This is a great age to engage girls and get their attention for the subject. They will grow up with the idea that computer science is for them. In my programs, the girls taught the boys, students interacted with one another, and the collaboration was excellent.

Learning with code(love)

Learning with code(love)

Do you have any advice for students who don’t know how to start learning to code?

# 1 – Start simple: take an introductory course first, either through Code.org or other courses on the Internet. Computer science is a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding to get your first program working, even if all it does is read, “Hello World!”.

# 2 – Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you don’t fully understand.

# 3 – Know that computer science is very multidisciplinary. For example, when I first began developing Codester, I did not imagine how much art, creative thought and user consultation I would have to do. No matter what you’re into, understanding of computer science will help.

The author

Roger is an entrepreneur who has co-founded a social network entitled ThoughtBasin that looks to connect students looking to make a difference with organizations looking for difference makers. This experience has given him some setbacks, but also some priceless insights. He is deferring admission from the law school of University of Toronto to pursue his dream of creating impact through entrepreneurship, and he is constantly looking to learn and create, and to do more. He contributes to social entrepreneurship projects with his fellow Global Shapers, coordinates a volunteer tutoring site, and on his off time he unwinds by reading, writing, and dancing---sometimes, all at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rogerh1991.