Teaching My Brother to Code

- 2 mins

I have a 19 year old little brother named Kyle who’s recently shown some interest in learning to code. Luckily, I really enjoy teaching others and get a lot of satisfaction from being able to share what I know.

Kyle had zero previous experience learning to code, so it was fun to start from total scratch with someone. I chose to start teaching him Python for a few reasons.

1) I know Python.

2) My first exposure to Python was Learn Python the Hard Way and is available as a free resource online that I knew Kyle could easily refer to. Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python is another free online book that I utilized and knew Kyle could.

3) I think that Python is still among the most readable and straightforward languages and is pretty great for raw beginners.

Anywho, I got him set up with a basic Python install on his Windows machine and showed him how to write simple programs in Notepad and run them via Powershell. I chose to show him Notepad over a fancier editor like Atom or Sublime or an IDE because I think the simpler you can make things at stage zero, the better. There’s not much to figure out with Notepad, so it wasn’t going to present any new obstacles.

Over the course of a couple hours I showed him variables, if statements, and a basic for loop. Then we started to build the ever popular number guessing game. I gave him surprisingly little help, and he actually did really well! In the course of 4-5 hours we went from zero knowledge, to a basic implementation of a number guessing game that asked the user how many games they wanted to play, played the games, and even kept score of how the player did. To be completely honest, I was very proud.

It made me remember the ground zero that I started from around a year ago, and how far someone can come in that amount of time. I don’t claim to be a phenomenal programmer by any means, but I contribute well at work and I like to think that sometimes I can do cool things and be helpful. It’s pretty cool to think that my little brother or even people that I’ve mentored at RailsBridge events could be at a solid junior developer level in a year, which is where I consider myself to be.

Between volunteering at RailsBridge events and Hour of Code events and working with Kyle, I’ve realized how much I enjoy mentoring people new to programming. With another RailsBridge event coming up in late June, I’m pretty pumped to continue to mentor people new to programming.

Andrew Pierce

Andrew Pierce

Software Engineer based in Durham, NC

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