Why I Inspire Kids With Code
Posted on 3
My name is Lucas Marcelli, and I'm the Managing Director here at Code For Kids. For my very first blog post I'm going to share the experience I had growing up with computer programming on the forefront of my interests, and why I think Code For Kids is the most important thing I've ever done.
My dear brother went to University for IT. I had always been interested in computer programming, because I wanted to make video games like Half Life, so when I saw his textbook that said "Java 1.4: The Essentials" I asked him if he could teach me.
His response was to hand me the textbook and say "Have fun!"
This was 2001. There was no internet as we know it today. There was no Code Academy, W3Schools, Stack Overflow or Code For Kids to help me out. I had a textbook and a computer with a 4 gigabyte hard drive and 256 MB of RAM. I installed the Java 1.4 JDK and opened up the textbook.
A little aside: nowadays Java is a pretty robust language that has some really legitimate uses. It works well and building things in it is easy and sometimes fun. However, Java 1.4 was called the "teaching language" in its day because not only was it a mess to code in, but it simply wasn't useful for, well, anything. It probably wasn't the best thing for a 9 year old to be learning out of a textbook but hey, it taught me some perseverance.
The first thing I did was utterly fail. I opened up a command prompt, typed "javac helloworld.java" and... javac is not a recognized batch command....
Now, this is the point where most kids would probably give up. I'm still not sure why little me opened up the textbook and figured out how to edit the system PATH to include Java, but I wanna go give him a high five. I tried compiling again and the computer said "Hello World" to me. I still remember the feeling when I made the computer do something that I wanted it to do. I was instantly hooked and kept working at it. Over the next couple years I learned to do some pretty nifty things, like graphics. As a kid I was also really into astronomy (still am!) and once we got internet I figured out how to create a Java program that could tell me the positions of the planets on any date and time, with stunning accuracy. That was the first time I did something really big and I still remember the feeling I had when I completed it and then used it to check where the planets were the day I was born. I felt like I created something real that could do actual things. That feeling of accomplishment was so unreal because it was difficult to get that feeling at such a young age.
This is why I am a part of Code For Kids. I want kids to have that feeling. I want them to do something real and be able to look at their work and think: "Wow, I did that?"
I want them to have a skill that is becoming really essential to the way we live our lives.
Most of all though, I want kids to be inspired by coding. I want to show them how they can build anything by knowing how a computer works and I want them to have the tools to do so.
Cofounder and Managing Director @ Code For Kids