When people consider the skills needed to become a programmer, they often think of those associated with tech or math. They overlook one of the most valuable attributes integral to programming: creativity. Sam, a CodeWizardsHQ high school student, is a perfect example of the way the best coders combine artistic and analytical skills. His exceptional coding projects demonstrate the creative side of coding and have earned Sam a Student Spotlight.

The Coding Spark

Sam performs at church

Sam’s mom remembers the moment that the coding spark found its way to her son, then a third grader.

“There was a Lego robotics class at his school. He was very interested in Legos, and it happened by chance. His instructor said that somebody needed to code the robot, and somebody needed to build the robot. Sam ended up coding it. The instructor pulled me aside after the first week and said, ‘You have to get him into this.’”

Sam’s mom also noted how her son demonstrated proficiency in art.

“When he was little, he started drawing images and then pixelating them and making them move, and it was such a cool progression. I wanted him to be able to use that. I feel like coding uses both sides of his brain. He’s very artistic, but also very scientific at the same time, so it felt like a good place to use his brain.”

Art Meets Analytics

Sam’s coding journey began with that Lego robotics class. He soon learned Scratch, and by the age of 12, he had taught himself JavaScript. Sam’s mom was looking for a coding program for her son and chose CodeWizardsHQ because of its positive reviews. He started with Introduction to Python and never looked back. He remembers that he enjoyed that first class and had fun. Two years later, Sam is now in his eighth CodeWizardsHQ class, a Wizard Level II Capstone course.

Learning to code has allowed Sam to make his artistic creations come to life. He plays Pokemon and has made a world of creatures based on the game. He has also developed his own games.

“I’ve played a lot of video games, and I really wanted to be able to make my own games because I’ve been designing these little characters. I wanted to make something around them. The first game that I made was on Scratch, then I learned Python, and I made a little text adventure game. The most recent one I have to say, my friends actually enjoyed, which is kind of fun.”

At CodeWizardsHQ, students are encouraged to customize their projects. This process engages and motivates students. Sam likes putting his own spin on his work and cited some of his favorite projects from Interactive JavaScript and Web Interfaces classes.

“We had this fun one. It was a fruit game where you tried to stop a spinner at the right point. I enjoyed that one. It was really fun to make. I think we did that over two classes. Two or three weeks ago, we made a menu for a restaurant with HTML/CSS. It was really fun. I put in my ingredients, and I made a lot of puns in the food names.”

Sam uses his creative coding skills in other areas outside of the classroom. He participates on an indie game-sharing platform called itch.io.

Sam on the family farm

“I’ve been participating in game jams. You just make a game in a certain amount of time, and then people rate other people’s games. So I’ve just been doing those every once in a while. I get a lot of good experience out of those.”

Sam loves learning new coding languages and is looking forward to learning Java. When looking to the future, he thinks about applying his skills to game development.

“I would love to get some sort of job where I can code, and then I also love making games. So if I could publish a successful one, that would be really cool as well.”

School and Hobbies

Sam has an active life outside of coding. He enjoys school and has a difficult time narrowing down a favorite subject. He likes Earth and Space Science this year but also lists math, English, and Spanish.

The high school freshman joined show choir and is looking forward to his first competition season. He has never stopped drawing.

“I draw a lot wherever I go. I’ve got sketchbooks upon sketchbooks everywhere. I also do pixel art for my games.”

Sam spends a lot of time at his grandparents’ farm and has become a proficient farmhand. He’s learned to handle a tractor and a Bobcat, and take care of the animals. The angus beef farm also grows barley, soybeans, and corn. Sam was excited about the recent addition of pigs.

With such a diverse set of skills and the drive to succeed, there is little doubt that Sam is headed for a bright future in any discipline that he chooses to pursue. His instructor, Julien, agrees.

Sam is the web development prodigy in my class. He consistently surpasses expectations, often anticipating upcoming steps before they’re taught. The unmistakable dedication Sam exhibits, going above and beyond with work outside of class, reflects an unparalleled passion for web development.

Julien Coleman, CodeWizardsHQ Instructor

Sam’s Standout Projects