Seventh-grader begins coding lessons for his peers



ITHACA, NY — Robert Kong, 12, started learning to code on his own when he was only six years old. For his sixth birthday, his parents gave him a MacBook, which he used to continue learning coding on Scratch, a free coding educational program designed for kids. Since then, Robert has explored coding languages ​​and different software and hardware programs, learned C ++ and JavaScript using books his parents gave him and his own research on the Internet.

From a young age, parents Kevin and Kathy Kong noticed Robert to be academically advanced, detail-oriented, curious and creative. With Kevin working in IT, Kathy said she believed the exposure helped Robert learn to code.

“He’s been very involved in this, he can learn on his own,” Kathy said. “He pretty much learned everything on his own which is a good thing because we noticed from an early age that his self-learning abilities are quite strong. Once he’s motivated and really wants to learn, he can learn on his own.

Kathy explained that Robert, an EAC Montessori student, started tinkering with her and Kevin’s old broken work laptops, updating or changing operating systems and cleaning up storage as needed. . Once, she says, he even installed a Windows operating system on a MacBook.

“Scratch is the first language he learned and he has a lot of experience in it, he has created over 100 projects in Scratch,” said Kathy. “Besides learning HTML, he actually started working on his own website called TechSpaces.Club, and he did the web hosting on his own. I didn’t know much about it and Dad is so busy he works alone most of the time. TechSpaces is mainly a site to try to extend its teaching and offer free lessons to other children.

At the age of nine or ten, Robert began teaching his younger brother and sister, Steven and Sophia, using slideshows he had created.

“At first we were really surprised, you know, it’s really like you were at home school doing all these classes teaching Steven and Sophia to use Scratch,” Kevin said. “We encouraged Robert, like ‘Hey you know so much and you really love teaching little kids, why don’t you expand that experience for other kids and for the community?’ And a lot of kids joined the class during the summer, twice during the pandemic because all the kids were staying at home, so Robert started teaching three sessions. “

During the summer of 2020, Robert began teaching free coding sessions to interested children. Each session consisted of four lessons over a week and took place on Zoom.

“I thought it was very interesting to be able to tell the computer what to do and it would show,” Robert said. “I like to share this knowledge with other people.

Students in Robert’s classes are usually attended by 15 to 20 children, usually around the age of seven, and some of them return to class for several sessions.

“He really wanted to get more involved and the kids were so excited to learn Scratch,” said Kathy. “For each session he created different projects and in each project he gave them all the concepts and skills needed to complete the projects. In each session, he also created a Kahoot quiz for the kids to enjoy. He even gave them homework so that they could learn more and he marked them down.

Robert’s will continue to teach the code in one session over the February winter break. After creating his own script, for which he created a slideshow, with an introduction and examples from all languages.

“I am working on a new website using a different hosting site,” Robert said. “It’s still a work in progress.”

In 2022, the Kongs hope to move Robert’s coding classes from Zoom to the public library so Robert can teach other kids who are excited to code in person.


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