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This 5th Grader Has Conquered Programming

by Muriel Vega

Henry Branham is not like most 5th graders. While he attends elementary school during the day, Henry spends his nights and weekends building apps and attending programming meetups. His dad Gregg Branham (also Henry’s default wingman and biggest cheerleader) says that his son was always technologically advanced, even 3D printing his homework on occasion.

“I like working with programming because it involves physics and references,” says Henry. “You get a really cool product in the end! Computers are fun because you can build them with so many options.”

It started back in the 3rd grade when Henry wanted to write an app to help his teacher with the active boards at school. “I gave him a book on C# and I helped him get started,” says Gregg. “I taught him to search for code examples and systematically build up to a goal. A few weeks later, he created an application that runs in the Windows system tray area. He coded it to automatically name the screenshots and made it very easy to use and frictionless.”

Following that experience, Henry attended a coding program run by Tech Talent South at ATDC. He received brief exposure in a few weeks span to HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby. All other knowledge has been self-taught using examples and tutorials on the internet, according to his father.

Henry has since built handheld gaming devices using a Raspberry Pi, designed a case using a 3D printer, learned iOS programming and Java by creating Flappy Bird imitations, and finally — created his own iOS drawing app called Doodley. It’s now available on the App Store for 99 cents.

Henry’s rapid growth as a programmer is underscored by his parents’ ongoing support. Hypepotamus asked dad Gregg how other parents can support their children through this journey and what resources he used to expose him to programming even further.

What kind of opportunities did you share with Henry to expand his knowledge?

Henry has always been very creative and interested in business. Due to his interest, I have taken him to a few meetups. He is very quiet during the meetings. However, he can walk out of a meeting and immediately give you feedback on who is a service provider, who has a good business model, and some great observations on how to improve different businesses.

One time I returned from a business trip and he told me he emailed Elon Musk because he wanted to tour his car factory. I asked Henry how he found the email.  He said “Dad that’s easy. He owns Tesla and SpaceX so I emailed all formatting variations of his name at both companies.”  (We still have not heard from Elon.)

As a parent, I think it is important to encourage your kids to be curious, imaginative and dream big.  I think it is important to expose them to as many things as possible related to your career and business.

What kind of meetups and events has Henry attended? Have they helped him with his programming and connections?

Henry has attended several business related meetups like the North Atlanta Startup Coffee Meetup sponsored by the Forsyth Chamber of Commerce. I have taken him to AA-ISP meetups and a few other business events at ATDC.

What projects is he currently working on, including his business productivity app?

In early January, he created an iPhone application for a door hardware company in California. It allows customers to take pictures of their existing doors and overlay images of new handles with different styles and finishes.

While awaiting feedback on that project, he has moved forward with the development of a business productivity application. The application will combine photo, voice, and email into an app that saves time and improves communication for mobile service professionals and contractors.  He just finished the app this week but the release is delayed waiting a DUNS number for his new LLC. In early January I created HQGamez LLC for him.

What are Henry’s future plans? What are his goals?

Currently he is interested in writing iOS applications for companies. Down the road he wants to work on an original game. We have talked about several projects like creating Arduino robots controlled by a Google Speech API so who knows where his interest may take him. As a parent, I want him to enjoy being a kid and do what makes him happy.

At a recent meetup someone asked him where he plans to go to college.  He looked at me with a funny smile and said “MIT.” Then he looked at me and said “Sorry dad, I know you thought I would say Georgia Tech.” (his grandfather and I both attended Georgia Tech). We both got a great laugh.

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