Episode 73 – These kid coders are cool!

Timothy Amadi with his brothers Eugene and Daniel

For parents of younger children, we understand how fleeting dreams and aspirations can be with our children. One minute they want to learn karate and then next minute they’re interested in basketball. One minute they want to be a teacher and the next a princess. One minute they want to be a policeman and the next a movie star.  

Dreams often change with children. We know this. It’s all part of their development and trying to figure themselves out. Yet, what if your young child approached you with persistence about wanting to learn to code? As interesting as that might sound, it would also be reasonable for you to have some initial reservations. After all, we’re talking about learning technology – complex technology, but what if that dream and plea continued to persist and through discovery, you learned that your young child had somehow developed a strong urge to code an app or a game or a website or a piece of software or … fill in the blank?  

What if your young child aspired to code? That’s exactly what happened with our next, young guest. Meet Timothy Amadi and his brothers, Eugene and Daniel. They are the coding trio of the Amadi family. Timothy started his journey at the young age of 9. He even went to a local coding boot camp to learn Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, and iOS … and Timothy codes without scaffolding! When he caught on with coding, he brought his brothers in and the trio collaborates together between project management, coding, and QR. Listen in today to episode 72 to hear the rest of the Amadi family’s coding adventures. Don’t miss this incredible episode! 

Timothy’s Bio:

Timothy Amadi is 10 years old and loves coding. He has built his own apps from the ground up including an eCommerce application, a blog application and even his very own version of Twitter. He also has an app that he is introducing to schools to help kids learn how to spell in a fun way using the computer, and he also participates in speaking engagements about coding, especially when it comes to inspiring other kids to learn to code as well.
 

Additionally, Timothy brought his older brothers into the fold of coding as well. Now, the trio collaborates on various coding projects and events and share in the excitement of their tech journey. The three boys have also authored nine books about coding that encourage other kids to try it out as well. Their mission is simple: “Everyone can code, including kids.” 

Episode Highlights and Show Notes:

Arsalan: Hi, Everyone. Welcome again to Mentoring Developers. I have a very special set of guests today. They are young kids who started programming when they were very little. Now, they are publishing multiple books on programming.  So, they have a consulting practice or some kind of business. Let’s talk to them about what this is all about. It’s super exciting. If you have little kids and you’re a parent or you’re a little kid yourself and in school and wondering how to get started with programming, or whether it’s something that kids can even do, then today’s episode is for you. 

Arsalan: Hi guys. How are you? Okay, so let’s get everyone’s name. I’m talking to Timothy right now. Timothy how old are you? 

Timothy: Eleven. 

Arsalan: Eleven. Okay. Can you guys get a little closer to the computer so that I can hear you better? 

Timothy: [inaudible]  

Arsalan: We’ll try to make do with what we can make do with. I couldn’t hear you very loudly, but that’s okay. So, that’s Timothy and who else do we have? 

Daniel: I’m Daniel. 

Arsalan: Hi, Daniel. How are you? 

Daniel: I’m 13 years old. 

Arsalan: You’re 13. Okay, and we have one more. 

Eugene: I’m Eugene Amadi and I’m 12. 

Arsalan: Eugene Amadi and you’re 12 years old. Wow. So, we have 11, 12, and 13. Is that right? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Wow. Okay. So, if you guys could speak a little louder so that we can hear you, that’d be better. Okay? If you can … if you can’t, then we’ll just look at your faces because that’s pretty awesome too. 

Arsalan: So, you guys were little kids when you decided one day to get into programming. How did you come to programming and then think about writing a book? Tell us a little about why you started and how you got here. 

Timothy: I began coding so that I could help my mom pay her bills. I tried making apps so that I could accomplish this task, but I didn’t know that I had to code to create an app. So, we went to school. There was this one time when we met with the student board and they told me that if you want to create an app, then you have to learn how to code. So, I told Mom that I wanted to code, but she didn’t believe me. So, she started buying books, but it still wasn’t enough. I looked all over the place for schools, but none of them had kids. Then we found one called Tech Talent South. It was our first code camp and lasted eight weeks. 

Timothy: So, on Day one, everyone was looking at us. We did ice breakers where we all introduced each other. 

Arsalan: How old were you at that time? 

Timothy: I was nine when that happened. 

Arsalan: Nine years old. Okay, and everybody else was probably in their twenties. 

Timothy: Yes, they were older. 

Arsalan: So, you were like “Oh, everybody is older” and they were like “What is this kid doing here?” How did you feel about that? Was that hard for you? 

Timothy: No. 

Arsalan: OK. So, tell me how your first day went in that code academy, that code school where you were the only kid and everybody else was a grownup. On your first day, what did you do? 

Timothy: I answered a bunch of questions that they had. Mom sat with me during every class. The code camp was held one day per week. So, every day for eight weeks mom would sit with me during class. 

Arsalan: So, you started that and did that for eight weeks. What did you learn during those eight weeks? 

Timothy: I learned a lot. I coded many apps, they were mostly on the Ruby on Rails application. I built one without using scaffolds by using it on the Command line and trying to make a kind of class for Ruby. It was a quick way to make things easier when you started up the Rails app. I made an app complete without using it. 

Arsalan: Wow. That’s amazing, and you made it without using scaffolding? Scaffolding, for people who don’t know, is a way to quickly create code by starting a skeleton off of a program without having to start from scratch. It’s like having an empty canvas and then you have to fill in all the other pieces. So, a lot of people use scaffolding, but you said that you didn’t use scaffolding and you just basically wrote from scratch by using an empty document. You start by defining this class and defining this and defining that. Then, everything else you were able to do in Ruby on Rails, which is a web framework using a model view controller design principle. That is pretty advanced because there are lots of things that you would never have heard about, but you were able to do it. Did you find it hard to do Ruby on Rails in eight weeks? 

Timothy: Yes, when I started out. When I was making my own version of Twitter, I didn’t have time to lead the whole project, but then I re-did it and that’s why it’s successful on the Bug Zero website. 

Arsalan: Alright. So, you made your own version of Twitter. Twitter, for people who don’t know, is a website or an application that you can use to send small messages. You can use it to send it to the world or people can subscribe to it and certain people can listen to it. There’s a published subscriber model that can be pretty complicated. So, it’s not an easy project, but it’s a very interesting project. So, you were able to do that. Did you have to get a lot of help from people? How did you get across issues where you didn’t know how to do something or you were stuck or maybe had a bug? A bug is just a mistake, a defect, or something that didn’t work. How did you get around that? 

Timothy: I began by trying to figure out where it was going wrong. Then, I tried to debug it. If that didn’t work, then I would call on someone to help.  

Arsalan: Okay. Well, how did you know how to debug? 

Timothy: First off, sometimes we made a capitalization mistake or [it was a] syntax thing. Or, sometimes, it was just easy to figure out and I just fixed it. 

Arsalan: Did you read any books to better understand how to do advanced things in Ruby on Rails while you were the class for eight weeks. Did you have books to read or were you just going there, listening to lectures, and doing your projects? 

Timothy: The projects were all part of the courses in the boot camp and I did the projects. 

Arsalan: Okay. That’s wonderful. You were able to do certain projects on Ruby on Rails and now you’re learning about it. I have a kid who’s eight and she’s a little interested in programming, but not that interested. I know a lot of people because I teach kids programming as well sometimes in after-school programs and such, and very few kids have an actual interest in learning how to program, in my experience. Yet, maybe there are exceptional cases like you. So, what happens in a class is that they are bored – even if the class is meant for kids and we try to keep it interesting. We try to make it fun with games and interactive things. So, it’s not too boring because there are graphics and games and this and that. Yet, it is still hard for younger kids.  

Arsalan: You are nine years old and you are sitting in with adults who are not really interested in games and stuff. They’re basically trying to get a job. That’s why they are learning it. They’re not learning it just to have a skill. They want to get a job. So, they’re very serious. I’m assuming that the classes were probably not much fun. Yet, you really stuck with it. You didn’t give up. You weren’t bored. You weren’t like “I don’t want to do this. This is boring.” Why was it not boring for you? 

Timothy: It was exciting to see the end product and each time I achieved something, I felt accomplished. 

Arsalan: Yes, it feels great to do something. That’s wonderful that you’re able to do it. Are you a good student in general? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Are you a straight-A student? 

Timothy: Yes, often – pretty much. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, you get pretty good grades. So, you’re used to studying. Do you study … and do homework by yourself or do you need to have someone sit and make you do your homework? 

Timothy: No. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, you’re pretty independent. What I’m trying to understand is why you were able to do it when so many other kids are not able to do it. You’re independent. You like doing things yourself and you love to accomplish things. When you do homework, it feels great, right? You’ve finished it and when you go to school the next day you can show your teacher and the teacher is going to appreciate what you did. So, it feels good, right? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: It feels good to be able to do it. It’s similar to programming. It’s dry and it’s not really that interesting sometimes. Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. Yet, when you do it, you feel great because when you have a problem, you solve it yourself. Sometimes you have help and that’s okay. Everybody needs help sometimes. 

Arsalan: So, now, eight weeks later did you feel like you were now a programmer or were you still feeling unsure of whether you could still do this? 

Timothy: I was still trying to find more with the program. So after … we went on to JavaScript class and after that, we had an iOS class, which on the last day Mom had a headache and we couldn’t go.  

Arsalan: Oh. Well, that happens. Mom had a headache and you couldn’t go, but you were still able to go through another eight weeks of JavaScript. That was eight weeks of JavaScript, was it?  

Timothy: Yes, that was JavaScript. 

Arsalan: That’s amazing. 

Timothy: It came before iOS. 

Arsalan: Then, after that, you did iOS and you took all of them except for the last class and that was because your mom was sick. That’s amazing. Wasn’t it hard for you? That is a lot. Most grownups don’t know those things. 

Timothy: It was very difficult though.  

Arsalan: Then why did you do it if it was so hard? You already knew Ruby on Rails. You already knew JavaScript. Why did you want to do iOS? 

Timothy: I just wanted to be able to show them that I could make a difference … that I had the potential to do great stuff. 

Arsalan: Okay, and you wanted to show this to whom? Your mother? Someone else? 

Timothy: Yes, mostly to my mom. 

Arsalan: That’s good. You wanted to show your mom “I can do this.” Your mom didn’t believe you in the beginning. Right? She didn’t think that you were serious about programming. What happened when you first told your mom that you wanted to do programming? 

Timothy: When I told my mom that I wanted to do programming? 

Arsalan: When you told her, you wanted to go to a program. In the pre-interview with my producer, you said that your mom didn’t actually take you very seriously at first. She didn’t know that you really wanted to do it. Then, something happened. You got some books. There was someone who helped you and you persisted and kept asking, and she finally found a place where you could go. You went to different places and they wouldn’t let you in, but then this particular program took you in. So, how was her reaction when you first talked to her about this? 

Timothy: I didn’t give up … I kept trying. If I wanted to make an app, I had to believe that I could do it. That’s when I first asked Mom. She slowly started seeing that I was serious about it. So, she bought me some books. I eventually made a game that 50 people across the world could play. 

Arsalan: You made a game that 50 people could play … together? At the same time? Is that what you mean?  

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: How did you make that game? This was before you went to that code school, right? Was it before or after? 

Timothy: Before. 

Arsalan: You already made a game? Which programming language did you use to make that game with? 

Timothy: Lua 

Arsalan: Lua? Hmm. How did you learn Lua? 

Timothy: It was really simple. I just began a code to show what each thing did … function. 

Arsalan: Wow. How old were you at that time? Nine? When you did the Lua program? 

Timothy: Yes, I was nine. 

Arsalan: Wow. That is impressive and you’re like “I can do this, Mom, and look, I just made this program.” So, 50 people across the world can play this game simultaneously. It doesn’t matter what it was. The point is that you proved yourself and you really wanted to do it and that’s really amazing. A lot of kids can learn from this and say “If Timothy can do it, then maybe I can do it. It’s fun!” So, tell me what is so amazing about programming? Why do you like it so much? 

Timothy: I want to be able to make a difference in the world and show that kids are capable of doing it. 

Arsalan: Okay. You want to make a difference in the world. You want to prove that kids are capable of doing great things. So, do you think that you can make a difference by doing programming, that you can solve some problems using programming? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Okay. Yes, because when there’s a problem, software is often a way to go. Software is everywhere. You were trying to help your mother with something and that was why you wanted to do programming. Were you able to do that? Were you able to make that app that you wanted to make for your mom? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: You did? Can you tell us a little about that app? 

Timothy: What app? 

Arsalan: You said that you wanted to do programming because you wanted to make something for your mother. That’s how you started. Do you remember that? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Were you able to make it finally? Sometimes that doesn’t work. You started with “Oh, I’m going to make an app for my mom to help her, but then, you know, you forgot. That’s okay. 

Timothy: I’m still trying to achieve that goal. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, that’s still a goal. That’s wonderful. We have to achieve our goals one little thing at a time. Let me tell you a little about myself. When I wanted to be a programmer, I was a kid as well. When I wanted to do programming, I just wanted to make games – video games that I could play. That’s what I wanted to do, but I never got to do it. I never got to actually realize that original dream because I discovered other things that I really wanted to do. So, it’s totally okay if you make a little goal and then later in life if you realize that maybe there’s something even better. You can change your goals and pursue that. It gives you direction. You know where you can go. You’re good at programming. You’re good at software and computers and technology and you’ll discover great things as you go. Companies and other people will value that. 

Arsalan: So, fast-forward. You were doing programming. You were learning iOS development, JavaScript, and Ruby on Rails. You’ve already done Lua. What happened after that? 

Timothy: I wanted to create a company for the apps so I could bring the profits to my mom and I could help her. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, you figured that now you know how to make apps. Maybe you could make them for other people who need these apps and they’ll pay you money and you can then help your mom. It’s great that you were thinking of bringing in money. That’s wonderful. So, you just decided to start a company. So, how did you start a company? Did you just register a website? You made a pretty good website. I went to your website. It looks very nice – BugZero.codes. So, you said “Now, I’m open for business and anybody who wants to make an iOS app, they can ask you. Is that right? 

Timothy: Actually, it got renamed. It was originally just BugZero, but Mom decided to add ‘.codes’ to it because that was our URL. So, it became BugZero.codes.  

Arsalan: Okay. So, how did you find a customer? It’s hard for people. I can tell you from myself [my perspective] because I do consulting. So, how do I get someone to pay me? It’s hard because you have to find the right people and then you have to convince them that you are the right person. So, you were able to find somebody to pay you to do some work for them. Is that right? 

Timothy: No. 

Arsalan: Oh. You’re still working on that? 

Timothy: No. 

Arsalan: That’s what you want to do, right? You want to … so, if I wanted to hire somebody to do an app for me, an iOS, could I hire you? Are you available for that? 

Daniel: Actually – I’m Daniely, by the way… 

Arsalan: Hi. 

DanielBugZero is actually non-profit. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, what does it do? What does BugZero do? 

Daniel:  We’re pretty much a platform and we want to spread around coding and teaching kids how to code. 

Arsalan: Ah. Okay. So, you’re not making apps for other people. What you’re doing is … you want to inspire other children to learn programming because programming is a good skill. It’s not necessarily to make money because children are not really working at jobs and making money. What we’re saying is that programming is a fundamental skill just like math. People do math and they can also do programming. It’s one other thing and it’s very useful. So, can you tell me why you think kids should learn programming? 

Eugene: We believe in teaching kids programming because coding is the future and everything around us has coding pretty much in it. We believe that every profession could use some form of coding or technology. If kids learn how to code and use technology, they’ll really influence and change jobs and maybe change the future. 

Arsalan: Okay, so programming is a very important skill and will give you the tools so that you can get jobs. That’s good. Also, programming has the other benefit that it expands your mind. It makes you smarter because it makes you think in different ways. Your brain has these neurons and it makes certain connections and you actually become smarter by learning a programming language.  

Arsalan: Yet, you also become smarter by learning anything new like a new language. If you wanted to learn French or Arabic or Chinese or any kind of a different language from your native language. You then build those connections in your brain and you become smarter. That’s just what it is. So, if you ask a kid who knows several languages, you will be able to exercise more of your brain. Similarly, if you know programming, that will make you smarter and will allow your brain to expand a little bit. So, I agree with that. I think this is pretty useful. 

Arsalan: Now, what happened after that? At some point in time, Timothy got you guys involved. Timothy, you got your brothers involved in this programming thing. How did that happen? 

Timothy: We first started to work together on apps. Eugene, here, is the quality assurance person. Daniel does the project management, and I’m the one who makes the apps. Eugene makes sure there are no errors or bugs in the apps and if there are, then I am responsible for fixing them. 

Arsalan: Okay, so you have divided the labor. You do the programming. Eugene does the QA or testing to make sure it works and Daniel is the one who manages the projects as the project manager to make sure that everything is done properly. Is that how you divide it? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, why did they decide that they wanted to do those jobs and why did they not do programming? They’re not programming. They’re part of your software development enterprise. In software development, there’s not just programming. It’s not just coding. There are lots of different roles. There’s a role for somebody to make sure that what your building is going to be what the customer or the world needs. There’s somebody who is going to make sure that what is being built is proper. So, there’s a tester role and there’s a coding role. Many times, a programmer wears all these hats in small organizations and they do all of it. So, why did you decide to divide the work into these different hats where one person is doing one thing and the other person is doing the other thing. Why did you do that? 

Timothy: I knew that it’d be too much of a task for one person doing all the work like thinking up the project and making sure the project has no bugs. It’s all too much for one person. So, my brothers took some of the lead on projects with each brother being responsible for one aspect of one program. They are to think up the projects. I am to actually code the projects and Eugene’s last task is to make sure that they always work right. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, tell me a little about your company, BugZero. Is that a registered company? Did you register it as a company? 

Timothy: We’re still working on that. 

Arsalan: Okay. That’s totally fine. You can get an LLC, but obviously, you need a grownup to do that. I don’t know that as a child you could do it. A limited liability company is very easy to do. You just fill out a form and you’ll have a company if you really wanted to, but you don’t have to. You can just be yourself. You can be a proprietor as well – a sole proprietor and just have a website and that’s totally fine, too. It matters if you are going to collect money. If you’re doing projects to collect money and you’re doing projects for other people who are going to use it, then it’s a good idea to create a company. We can talk about that. If you want to know how to do that, I can talk to you about this. 

Arsalan: This has only been going on for about two years. In the meantime, you’ve learned all these different languages and then you and … all of the kids are in the process of publishing nine different books about programming. Is that right? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Nine different books. Okay, so that is incredible because writing a book is not a small feat. You need to have authority. You need to know what you are saying. You need to be able to say it. You need someone to publish it. So, there are lots of things involved. So, do you think that’s what you want to do? You just want to write a lot of books and that’s kind of your business model? When you sell the books, then you can bring in some revenue, like you said, to help your mom and so on and just make some money for the company. Is that kind of what you’re thinking? 

Timothy: No.  

Arsalan: Okay. So, tell me a little about these books. What is the first book that you decided to write? 

Timothy: A picture book about how everyone can code, including kids. 

Arsalan: Say that again. What’s the name of that book? 

Timothy: “Everyone Can Code, Including Kids” 

Arsalan: Ah, “Everyone Can Code, Including Kids.” That would be the picture book and how old would the kids be who should read this book? 

Timothy: Ages seven to 11. 

Arsalan: Ages seven to 11. Okay. It’s a picture book for kids ages seven to 11 and just letting people know that anybody can code. Why did you think about writing that book? 

Timothy: We wanted to show that everyone, no matter their ages, can code. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, tell me a little about this. What’s in that book? 

Timothy: It shows examples of JavaScript and different people coding … a police officer, a firefighter, a teacher, a chef … 

Arsalan: Okay. Did you do your own artwork or did you have someone else do it? 

Timothy: No. Someone else did it. 

Arsalan: So, did you hire someone to do the artwork or was it a friend? 

Timothy: It was the person who helped set up the Bug Zero page. 

Arsalan: Ah, okay. So, there is someone who designed the Bug Zero page, which is a website that you made using WordPress and that designer also helped with the artwork for your book. That’s wonderful. So, that’s a book that you’re still writing? Or, did you already write it? 

Timothy: We already wrote it. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, it’s already finished. It’s not published yet, though, is that right? 

Timothy: Oh, no. It is published. Wait, no it’s not. 

Arsalan: Oh, it’s not published yet. 

Timothy: No, not yet. 

Arsalan: So, if I wanted to buy that book, what do I have to do? 

Daniel: Excuse me. What did you say? 

Arsalan: If I wanted to get that book or anyone who is listening to this podcast right now, how would they get this book? Will they have to wait until you’re published? 

Eugene: Uh, yeah. …. 

Arsalan: Are you self-publishing it? Are you publishing it yourself or do you have a publisher? 

Eugene: We have a publisher. 

Arsalan: You have a publisher and it’s in the process of publishing. Okay, and my producer who did the pre-interview, she said that you have some kind of agreement in different countries. So, tell me where this would be published. Which countries? 

Eugene: Well, we want this book to be published in places like Haiti and … Well, first, we want it to be published here in America. Then, we want to spread it out to other places like Haiti, Ghana, and libraries in mostly third-world countries because we want to improve people’s lives there. 

Timothy: …and Liberia. 

Eugene: …and Liberia. Places like those. 

Arsalan: Okay, so, countries in Africa and certain other countries that are third-world countries where there’s a lot of poverty and people are struggling and you think that if the kids over there learn programming, then it would give them the tools to maybe get some jobs or make some money by making apps or websites for other people. I think that’s the social thing that you want to do. You want to help those people to have the means to support themselves. 

Daniel: Yep. 

Arsalan: And you also want to publish it in America. Well, that’s a big task and I wish you good luck. When it is published, you’ll have to come back on this show and tell us about it so that we can learn a little more about the book and our audience can, perhaps, go and pick up a copy. So, that’s wonderful. We’ll talk about this when you publish. 

Arsalan: So, then you decided to write other books. So, what was the second book? 

Daniel: So, the second book was my book and It’s called “Learn the Terms” and it’s a teen edition. It [helps] teenagers to learn the different terms in coding. So, when they begin coding, they aren’t saying things like “I don’t understand this. What is that? What does that mean?” They will already have a guide. 

Arsalan: Wow. I never would’ve thought about a book like that. I think that a book like that could be really useful, especially for people who may be feeling a little shy or maybe they don’t know and don’t want to ask a dumb question. 

Daniel: Right. 

Arsalan: So, you want to help those people and I think that adults could probably use that book too. So, that’s pretty useful because whoever is starting out, if they don’t have any background, how would they know? So, give some examples of the terms that you are explaining in that book. 

Daniel: We define what a bug is – a defect or a problem that stops the program from doing what it’s supposed to do. We define what functions are – like how your code uses functions and what they do. We also define scaffolding, like you said, which is like a skeleton or a preset to code something. It’s things like that and terminal and different things like that. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, you didn’t go to code school or any kind of code academy, did you? 

Daniel: I had a website resource list … 

Arsalan: Okay. How did you learn all these terms? Did Timothy tell you? 

Daniel: Yes. Some of them he told me. He has a coding mentor who comes to our house and they teach and work on coding. So, I’m there and I listen in to what they’re doing and I learn some of the things that they’re doing. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, let’s talk about this mentor. So, Timothy, you have a mentor that comes to your house every week, once a week? 

Timothy: Once on Saturdays. 

Arsalan: Once on Saturdays – and spends maybe one hour with you? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Okay. So, why did you want to have a mentor? 

Timothy: To help me improve my knowledge of coding. 

Arsalan: Okay and was it your idea or was it your mom’s idea? 

Timothy: It was my mom’s idea. 

Arsalan: So, your mom said: “You need someone to help you.” This is perfect because Mom had some background in programming, too, because she did computer science back in Nigeria. That was Nigeria, right? Did I get that right? 

Eugenia (Mom): Yes, you’ve got that right. 

Arsalan: Okay and you already did your computer science and math. So, you already know a little about programming and you were able to guide him. That’s perfect, but even if you didn’t, you know about having a mentor – this podcast is about mentorship, mainly. We need mentors. We need people to help. We can help each other, especially people who have been doing this for a while. We can make it easy for new people. So, that’s wonderful. You said that if he had a mentor, that would be good and he could ask questions. What does the mentor do? Do you have a curriculum that you follow or do you just ask any question? 

Eugenia: They meet on Saturdays and get to do fun projects. They do different exercises and he’s been able to get his brothers up to speed on the coding adventure. 

Arsalan: Okay and is there any particular programming language or a thing that they do like making websites or just whatever the kids want to do? 

Eugenia: Right now, BugZero.codes is bringing kids to tech. That’s what they say they are doing – bringing kids into technology. So, they work on the curriculum that they use for their workshop. They have a workshop once a month, where they teach kids how to code. So, the boys prepare for that and he kind of looks at what they are doing and [says] “Do we do this” or “I think we should go this way. What do you think we should do?” They get to talk about it. 

Arsalan: Okay. How did you find that mentor? That’s the hardest thing because if I wanted to find a mentor for my child, I think that I would have a very hard time. So, how did you find one? 

Eugenia: He actually taught Timothy in his technology school. Recently, a man named Mr. Roys reached out to Timothy, too, on LinkedIn. He wants to teach him AI. So, they actually started on that today – learning AI. 

Arsalan: Hmm. So, you have two mentors. 

Eugenia: Yes. 

Arsalan: Are you paying them or is that pro bono? 

Eugenia: One is pro bono and the other is a little tip. It’s nothing much. The whole idea is that they want to teach him. They want him to learn. They always say it is exciting, you know, to get him up to speed. They can’t believe that he is able to do the things that he does. 

Arsalan: [Laughter] Yes, I can’t believe it either. It’s quite incredible because most children – they want to do other things. They want to watch T.V. or maybe play with their toys, but your child wants to create things. You must be a very proud mother. 

Eugenia: Am I proud? No, but I am thankful. [Laughter]. He reads a lot of books. 

Arsalan: Okay. 

Eugenia: In a week, he could read as much as 20 books – in a week, I’m telling you – seven days. He sleeps with books under his pillow. He wakes up in the morning and the first thing he does is grab a book. 

Arsalan: Well that’s wonderful. What kind of books do you like to read, Timothy? 

Timothy: Mostly chapter books and sci-fi fiction. 

Arsalan: Okay. Not programming books. These are fun books. 

Timothy: We do have programming books, but I’ve already read them all. 

Eugene: He’s read them all. 

Arsalan: [Laughing]. You’ve read all the programming books. 

Timothy: Yes. 

Eugenia: …he’s read them all. 

Arsalan: Okay and what do you do? Do you just read them like a novel like you’re turning pages and reading code? Or do you say “Let me type it in and see if it works,” but that takes a long time. What do you do? 

Timothy: So, usually, I just do the pages – flip the pages and look at examples. Then, they often have results. I looked up what the code results in. 

Arsalan: Well, I think that you are a very special child and we need to explore a little more about all of the wonderful things that you know and are doing. We need to learn a little more about BugZero.codes, your projects, your website, what’s going on there, and your mentorship. This episode has been wonderful. It’s late where you are and where I am and I know that you have school tomorrow. So, I don’t want to keep you today for very long. Would you like to come back and talk a little more about all of the things that you guys are doing? 

Timothy: Yes. 

Arsalan: Okay. We would love to have you and thank you, Mom, for letting us talk to your kids. To your mom, I just want to ask if she has any messages for parents who have children and who would like their kids to maybe learn a little bit of programming or at least try a dabble in it. Is there any advice that you could give them? 

Eugenia: Every kid can code if we give them the chance. Sometimes we just don’t believe that they can do it. I didn’t believe that Timothy could do it. I didn’t even believe that his brothers could coincide, but they are. They are doing it. If we would just give them a chance, I think they would code. 

Arsalan: Wow. I think that’s a good message.  

Eugenia: Everyone, not anybody. It’s collectively everyone can code, including kids. 

Arsalan: Including kids – and adults, if they wanted to. 

Eugenia: Yes, if they want to. The whole idea … we need to take this fear that is attached to coding and programming … people don’t even wait until they get into it before they say “No, I can’t do this” or “No, I know my child can’t do this.” Some people think that the kids who do it are special. No. That’s why they are taking their messages to schools, libraries, and the community – to say that everyone can code. Every child can. 

Arsalan: That’s wonderful. You’re taking your message and basically talking to as many kids as possible and going to libraries. He’s getting ready for his first speaking engagement, is that right? 

Eugenia: Oh, no. He’s already done several in the last year. This year is just beginning. So, we’re going to be signing up some. 

Arsalan: Wow. What kind of speaking engagements has he done so far? 

Eugenia: He’s gone to different schools within the community. He’s gone to coding clubs within the community and he’s gone the libraries in the community. 

Arsalan: Okay. 

Eugenia: And, he’s gone to Meetup events to talk to adults and how they can increase the tech community because we need more people in technology. We need to bring more people on board. 

Arsalan: Yeah, absolutely. 

Eugenia: Every profession is waiting for the tech community. So, we need to grow the tech community. So, he reaches out to them, too, to tell them that you can get somebody on board. You can mentor somebody. You can pull somebody. You can encourage somebody. You can inspire curiosity in other people. Let’s not just keep our knowledge and our skills to ourselves. We need to pass it on. Pass it on the next person. Pass it on to your child. Pass it on to your neighbor. Pass it on to a friend’s friend. If only we could just make a little time. 

Arsalan: That’s a wonderful message. Yeah, let’s not hoard our knowledge. Let’s spread it, especially when it comes to something that is so exciting and amazing that even children are excited. Children are able to do amazing things with it. They feel accomplished. They feel great and they become smarter. Then, when they grow up, this is a good career for them, if they wanted to. You don’t have to become a professional software developer, but you could. That’s wonderful. 

Eugenia: Yeah. I was actually surprised. I was at a speaking engagement that he went for. There were about 300 developers and when he asked the question “Is there anyone here who is teaching a kid how to code,” there were none. I said “Whoa, really? None.” … Then, he came up with the acronym Mr. Ted – Mentor A Kid. So, replicate your problem-solving skill. T – Teach a kid how to code. E – Encourage a kid. D – Do it with all of your heart. If we do that, we will grow the tech community. 

Arsalan: Yeah, I think that’s a wonderful message. So, Timothy, is there anything else that you would like to say before we say goodnight for now? 

Timothy: No. Not necessarily. 

Arsalan: Okay. Your mom said it for both of you. You are very articulate. I am very glad to have finally met you guys and I think we would love to have you back. We’d love to learn a little more about all of your kids and all the things that you like to do. Let’s hope that we can keep this conversation going and let’s hope that anybody who is listening to this right now is encouraged and they get excited and maybe they follow in your footsteps. Then, maybe they can pick up one of your books to get that inspiration. When you publish it, you’ll have to come back so we can share it with the world. 

Eugene: Absolutely. 

Arsalan: Alright, kids. Everybody, I’m saying goodbye for right now, but we’ll see you later. Bye. 

Important Links

Thanks for Listening!

Do you have some feedback or some advice for us or our audience? Please give us a review on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher and share your thoughts.

If you found this episode useful, please go ahead and share it with your friends and family. You can also listen directly and give your feedback on the website.

You can subscribe to Mentoring Developers via iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, or Google Podcasts

Join the discussion

More from this show