• This Is Rutherford

RHS Students Teach Python4Kids at the RPL

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Technology plays an important role in so many lives these days. Children are especially interested in learning as much as they can about the digital world. Two Rutherford High School students decided to offer a class “Python4Kids” for children in the community. Joey Lu (entering Junior year) and Zen Castaneda (entering Senior year) were excited to share their knowledge with young, eager students. This is Rutherford spoke with Joey and Zen to learn more about the class.

TIR: What made you decide to run a one-week class in Python for children at the Rutherford Public Library?

Joey Lu: After volunteering at the Washington School and Kindergarten center with Ms. Nastasi, It inspired Zen and me to get together and create a program similar to our volunteering experiences with a higher level of code.

Zen Castaneda: Through my coding teacher, Ms. Nastasi. She has introduced us both to explore coding by the means of teaching other Rutherford students from Washington School and Kindergarten center. As a girl, Ms. Nastasi emphasized how important it was to encourage women in STEM. Joey and I teamed up and created a summer program to introduce a younger audience to advance coding.

TIR: Which age group participated in the class?

JL and ZC: The course’s age range is from ages 7-10

TIR: Where did you learn the skills necessary to teach the class?

JL: We mainly attained the skills through the classes we took in school with Ms. Nastasi, the programming teacher. She helped us with much of the planning, which I am very thankful for.

ZC: Python was the first language I was taught by Ms. Nastasi. I learned when I was younger due to my interest in games like Minecraft and Terraria. From there I learned Python, C++, and now I am currently learning Java and HTML.

When asked who their mentors were, Zen explained, “Honestly, it would have to be Ms. Nastasi. I had no idea what my major would be for college until her empowerment led me in the direction of coding. She’s always someone I relied on and more a friend than a mentor.”

Joey told TIR, “Ms. Nastasi has an excellent influence and mentor to me and every other student who takes her classes. She supported us through the process of creating the course and helped us with different aspects of what to expect when being a teacher. I am very grateful for her and we definitely could not have done it without her.”

TIR: Can you tell us what Python4Kids is?

JL: Python4Kids was a one-week course that we taught at the Rutherford Public Library, aimed to give younger kids a basic introduction to programming. We taught Python, a language often used in the real world of technology and programming.

ZC: Python4Kids is a one-week course with 1 hour sessions taught at the Rutherford Public Library. We chose Python since it’s used in our everyday technologies such as in Instagram, Spotify, etc. Our mission was to introduce kids to the workings of our now reality, where technology is prevalent in our everyday lives. To answer the question Why?, we aimed for our lessons to be engaging and interactive as possible.

TIR: What did your students enjoy most about the class?

JL: I believe the students enjoyed Python because it was not something a typical 7-10 year old would see, at their age range, most kids are learning through block code, sort of like puzzles. They enjoyed the new challenges thrown at them.

ZC: Our students realized how challenging Python was and how they could conduct this language to create something such as a calculator. Besides the stickers given after every lesson, the students enjoyed the personable experience with their code; they could output however they pleased.

TIR: Will you offer this class again?

JL: Zen and I will run this class again, whether it is through next summer or in the middle of the school year, We also plan on creating different courses for different levels of experience or even different programming languages.

ZC: Joey and I are planning to run this class again whether in the summer or during the school year if time allows. We plan to cater to different age groups and languages.

Zen and Joey along with their Python4Kids class

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