Mentoring at the Chicago #HourOfCode 2014

I was blessed to learn to code at a very young age. My first computer was a Tandy TRS-80 which I used to make very rudimentary programs on their basic cartridges starting at 7 years old.

In Jr. High, while shopping at the local computer store, I discovered Borland C++.  Unfortunately, the compiler and accompanying manuals were almost $200, far beyond my price range.

Fortunately, our home computer was soon upgraded to Windows 3.1, which I grew incredibly excited about. I discovered QBasic and found books at the library to learn rudimentary programming.

I was fortunate enough to have parents who provided the necessary equipment, which was very expensive at the time, and the foresight to let me satisfy my curiosity through countless trips to the library and annoying questions about things they understood little about.

Learning to code at a young age, with my parents support, has proven to be the single most important career decision in my entire life.

Thankfully, learning to code is now much easier.  Through the Internet, countless free resources are available to make it much easier to learn this crucial skill then ever before.

This is why I was so excited when a friend of mine, Will Little, invited me to participate in the “Hour of Code” program at Wells Community High School, I jumped at the chance.  Teaching others to code is a passion and I try to jump at any opportunity to help others learn.

At the event, there was a tremendous showing from the local Chicago community of computer professionals.  We went through a brief orientation where the sponsoring teacher, Ms. Daniels, explained the history of the school and a bit about the computer science courses that they offer.

All of the volunteers were then led down the halls to the school entrance chanting, “Hour of Code” to drum up excitement.  We then split into our pre-assigned classrooms where we welcomed students.

After brief introductions, we helped students walk through the tutorials offered by Code.org.  In these tutorials, students are walked through basic lessons to perform various actions on the screen.  You can take a look at several of them at http://code.org/learn.

I particularly enjoyed meeting the students.  Afterwards, I had several students say that they would continue learning to code on their own time, which was particularly encouraging.

Overall, the event was incredibly enjoyable and appears to have made a small impact on the lives of the students.

Do you know how to code? What’s holding you back? If you do, when did you learn?

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