Aaron didn’t start learning coding until he was an adult, and it was a bumpy process in the beginning. Thankfully he kept at it, tried a different programming language, and discovered he loved coding. It’s become such a passion that he’s pursuing a second college degree related to technology while also being one of our standout teachers.
How Loving Puzzles Turned Into a Love of Coding
Although he loves technology now, Aaron grew up around family members who weren’t the most computer savvy, so he definitely wasn’t exposed to programming.
I wish that when I was a kid there were things like CodeWizards. Something like coding was kind of equivalent to magic. You know it’s out there, but we have no idea how it works, so I really wasn’t ever exposed to it as a kid and I wish I had been.
It wasn’t until Aaron was in college that he took his first coding class, and at that point he wasn’t interested in continuing to learn programming. He decided to give it another shot when he went back for a degree in cyber security, though, and discovered a passion he never expected.
“With my first degree I was exposed to some very limited stuff with a very basic exposure to C, which is not the easiest language and it’s not the easiest one to learn. I was just like, nope, not for me, I don’t want this,” he says. “Then when I went back for this second Master’s degree, I got exposed to what programming actually was, not just this very basic throw you in the deep end of C.”
After learning Java, Aaron found that coding had similarities to one of his favorite activities as a kid, and that’s what kept him wanting to learn more.
“I’ve always enjoyed puzzles and so to me coding was kind of like a puzzle, because you could do everything that you think is exactly right and you run your code and your code is not working. Now it’s a puzzle I have to figure out.”
Demystifying Coding for Kids
While the concept of coding was basically like magic to Aaron growing up — something that just happens and isn’t able to be understood — today he loves showing kids that they have the ability to code all by themselves.
“It’s not just magic, it’s actually something that is very doable. Programming itself is easy, it’s the debugging that’s hard — I always tell my kids that. Giving them that skill set, giving them that confidence, giving them the keys that they’re going to need to be successful in their future is very rewarding for me,” he says.
Aaron has taught CodeWizardsHQ courses for elementary, middle, and high school students, but some of his favorite moments as a teacher come with the Intro to Real World Programming course in the elementary school program.
“That is the first time that the kids are moving into a real programming sense. Up until that point they’ve been working in Scratch and it’s drag and drop blocks,” he says. “Then you basically show them that the whole world is their oyster, as long as they understand what they’re doing and they understand what code is necessary. Their eyes just light up with those possibilities and it’s just such a cool experience.”
From Coding to Gaming
Aaron’s schedule is pretty full between classes and coursework for his Master’s degree and the classes he teaches for CodeWizardsHQ, but when he does have downtime he still enjoys playing games. These days he enjoys board games, playing video games on his Nintendo Switch or Playstation 4, and he’s a regular fixture at the virtual company game nights for CodeWizardsHQ. He also loves spending time with his most loyal friend, his dog, Doctor (named for Doctor Who).
“I tell all my students when we do introductions that he sits right next to me when I teach all my classes.”
What he also tells his students is to be open to trying new things — after all, if he had stopped after his first experience with C, he’d never know how much he truly loves coding.
Don’t be afraid to go and try new things, especially within programming. Maybe you’re learning Python and it’s hard for you — that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s also things like HTML and CSS and maybe you’re going to be more inclined to be an HTML and CSS developer. There’s so many different avenues that you can go down with programming and so many different opportunities. Just because one shoe didn’t fit doesn’t mean that all of programming is not the right fit for you. If you can understand programming, you will always have an opportunity for yourself.