Hatch Blog

Why Coders Should Start Young

Coding means many things to many people; it can be a way to make money, a learning endeavour, a hobby or creative outlet. At Hatch, we give students the opportunity to learn what coding can mean to them. Zev is a 16 year-old Hatch student who enjoys coding and is currently expanding his knowledge into several programs. We talked with Zev to learn a little bit more about what coding means to him and which programs he is currently focusing on.

What role has coding played in your life?

Coding has done a lot for me in the last few years. I think the main thing it’s provided is an environment where I can create and learn anything I want – almost always for free – at my own pace.

How old were you when you learned the basics? What was the first thing you learned?

I discovered the world of programming during winter break when I was 13. I started off very slowly; my first few scripts were written in Batch (which I shudder at the thought of now), but I progressed to Ruby, then Python, then I branched out to the full-stack suite of languages and frameworks I know now.

The first practical thing I learned was the basics of Ruby. I didn’t yet understand what Object Oriented meant, but it was immeasurably more fun than any browser-based Flash game I had access to before then.

What do you see as the major benefits of computer programming?

The benefits of programming are endless. Just to scratch the surface: trigonometry, formulas, and algebra come naturally to any programmer; even if they don’t know it they’re incorporating higher math into almost every program they make. Additionally, practiced coders are more often than not excellent critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Has coding changed since you started?

The community has absolutely been flipped on its head. C and C++- and even Assembly to a point – have started making a comeback; C#, Java and other templated or idiomatically typed languages are beginning to fade out; JavaScript has taken the world completely by storm; and there’s new announcements dozens of times a day (my Twitter feed mainly consists of tech and coding news). I think the expansion of what’s available to the new generation of software and web developers is the best thing that’s happened to the tech industry.

What are some myths around coding and computer programming?

The biggest myth (which is really more of a stigma at this point) that plagues developers of all kinds is that anyone who codes anything – it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s console application, websites, or simple tie-in scripts – is an evil hacker bent on destroying the Internet. Coders are the artists of the digital age and the Internet is our medium; we wouldn’t break it if we could.

Controversial question - what's the BEST language to learn?

New members on the forum I hang around often ask me what programs do I recommend learning first, and I still don’t have a solid answer. A year ago, I would have C without question; it’s incredibly hard to learn as a first language – heck, it’s still hard as a 13th – but if you can learn C, you know how your computer actually process the code, as well as how to do literally everything you’ll ever need to (and beyond C there’s C++, which is harder still and even more rewarding).

Since web development is the stack everyone seems interested in now, I would also recommend learning HtML5 and CSS3 (along with some frameworks to make your life easier) and browser-interactive JavaScript (along with jQuery, which is a huge time saver). Learning PHP on top of that can’t hurt, either.

For coders with a language or two under their belts, Python is great for quick programs and competitions (CCC, CodeJam, etc…), Perl is old (and a bit frustrating) but gold, and Ruby is easy and really fun to play with.

What's the most creative thing you've seen come out of coding?
Personally, I’m a sucker for Discord bots. I’ve seen everything from command services to conversational Als to music players, and it blows me away.

Have any tips for young coders?
To anyone interested in coding is if you can dream it, you can make it; never stop learning, creating and pushing boundaries.”

Always eager to learn and to help other students, we are happy to have Zev in our program. We look forward to seeing his growth in the world of coding!

Do you know the benefits of learning to code? Think your child could use a bit of a challenge? Want your them to learn more about coding and programming? Hatch could be what they need - learn more about what we offer!

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