For Cynthia, coding has always been about being able to do more with her creative interests. She uses this unique take on coding to encourage students who might have other interests that programming can be for them, too.
An Artist in a Digital Age
Cynthia grew up loving computers, especially playing games and drawing on Paint. But it wasn’t until college that she discovered that computers could tie into her lifelong interest in art.
“One of my good friends said ‘Hey, do you know about programming languages?’ And I said, ‘I have no idea what that is, what does that mean?’ And they said it’s kind of like learning a language, but with computers. I just researched from there and fell in love with the fact that you can create, because I’ve always been a creator. I’ve just been learning every single day since then.”
Now Cynthia uses coding and technology to make her artwork into something completely different, turning hand-drawn pieces into digital works of art.
“Visually I like to draw landscapes, so if I’m somewhere I’ll sketch it out and then take that sketch and put it into my iPad and draw in Procreate. Once I’m done with that I’ll take it and make pixel art.”
Showing Students That Coding is For Everyone
Cynthia has been teaching with CodeWizardsHQ for over a year and has taught classes in our elementary, middle, and high school programs. No matter what level she’s teaching, she always encourages her students to incorporate their other interests in projects.
“I love being creative, so I really push that on my students, making sure they take their projects and make them their own. Because when I was learning, it was just the same thing over and over again. So having them add their own little flair to their projects I feel like is a lot better and it makes them want to code.”
For students who are new to programming, or who might not be sure if it’s really for them, Cynthia always takes it back to their current hobbies.
“My first thing that I always do is I ask, what is your interest besides programming? And they’ll tell me they like to draw or they like to play basketball. Then I tell them, when you come back, I want you to take what you do that doesn’t involve coding and I want you to add it to your project,” she says. “Then they’ll come back to me and say, all I could think about was adding images of basketballs. And I say, that’s good, because what you just did there is you took an interest and you are learning about another interest. It definitely opens up their eyes to be like, oh so I can have more than one interest, or I can implement this into the stuff I do in my everyday life.”
In addition to encouraging creativity, Cynthia’s other biggest focus with her students is making sure they’re having fun. She knows that kids who are having fun will be more likely to want to learn and take the concepts from class even further.
“Besides playing pranks on me, which is their favorite thing to do, I always like to make sure my students have fun. And then also having them share their projects in the beginning — we’re all looking at everyone’s projects and seeing what we came up with. Some of them don’t want to share, but then they come out of that shell and everyone gets together and we laugh and have a good time.”
Life Outside of Teaching
When she’s not busy teaching CodeWizardsHQ classes, Cynthia loves spending time with her many pets, including three dogs, a rabbit, a cat, and fish. Her dogs accompany her on hikes when weather allows (it gets pretty hot at times in West Texas). She also spends a lot of her free time learning new ways to combine coding with her artwork.
She then uses these art projects to inspire her students and show them just how much they can do with their coding knowledge.
“I’ll share my projects, and they’re all ‘you can do that?’ And I say, yes you can. I have a few students who specifically like to draw, they’re not as into the coding portion, and I’m like, wait a minute, don’t give up on programming yet. Because I promise you can take your art and create something really cool with it.”
While she continues to learn more about creative coding, Cynthia says she continues to learn from her students as well even after a full year of teaching with CodeWizardsHQ.
“I’ve just been so glad to be able to teach and be part of something amazing. I learn every single day from my students. I love just letting them be themselves as much as possible,” she says. “And anything I can do to help them, I let them know, just bother me every single day if there’s something you don’t understand. We have so many resources and we’re here for you guys.”