March is one of the sunniest months in Singapore and we can’t wait to explore around with a brand new list of fun techtivities that you can do for the month!
For March’s #TechFact, we always hear of encryption in cybersecurity, which helps to keep our data safe. Did you know that encryption dates back to ancient times, with one of the earliest methods being the Caesar Cipher? Yes, named after Julius Caesar!
Now that we’re all warmed up, keep scrolling to discover techtivities that you and your family can indulge in this month! ✨
Total Defence 2022
In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, Singapore Discovery Centre has curated many exciting exhibits, showcases and programmes to enable us to learn more about our past. 🇸🇬🌟 One of them is XD Theatre Ride: TD Special – a 4D multi-sensory ride experience full of thrilling twists, turns and explosive effects. Your kids are sure to have a blast and discover the wonder of how technology is able to provide such experiences!
Come join in the fun with your family and friends in exploring how Singaporeans overcome past incidents and challenges through each of the six pillars of Total Defence. With technology utilised in many of the activities, your little techie will have a whale of a time as they learn with ease and on the go. ✨
Details: When: 15 Jan – 27 March 2022 (depends on the activities) Where: Singapore Discovery Centre Price: Free Learn more here.
Shopee Code League
Shopee Code League is back again with a 2-week coding league consisting of two rounds of intense coding competitions, open to all students and professionals!
This year, get to put your coding skills to the test by challenging yourself to solve algorithmic puzzles designed by the Shopee Engineering team. Participate with your buddies to solve real-world problems, and battle it out as the region’s coding champions. 🏆
Details: When: 14 – 26 March Where: Online Who: All students and professionals Price: Free Learn more here.
To Be You
If you are looking for some virtual activities to do with your family and learn something new then To Be You is perfect for you — it is an award-winning Singaporean interactive fiction game that lets you experience life as someone else! Built with the intention of getting to the heart of empathy, players are given the chance to literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes as they play characters of different identities (be it race, religion, lifestyle, etc.) in the game.
To Be You was conceived to help dismantle stereotypes and reduce prejudice, and ultimately foster greater empathy and inclusiveness among Singaporeans. This idea was one of the winners of the 2020 MCCY:Mission Unite Hackathon.🌤️ If you’re a coder, it’s more ideas for meaningful coding projects that you can build yourself!
Details: When: Permanent Where: Online Price: Free Learn more here.
Coding Bytes – Under The Ocean
If you’re not yet familiar with Coding Bytes, it is our special series of small, bite-sized programming projects to welcome budding students into the world of coding by following along and doing it on their own at home! The third App Inventor instalment features Tutor Yue Wei, who teaches us how to program a fishing game with a Game Boy interface. 🎣 Join your little one as they program the medium-sized goldfish to eat the small fishes to gain points, while avoiding the big fishes to live longer! 🐟
Added your own twist to the program? We’d love to see it! Tag us @codinglabasia on Facebook or Instagram and stand a chance to be featured! Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel too to get notified on our latest videos.
Details: Includes: Engaging, fun and quick tutorials on Scratch and App Inventor programming Watch the series here.
March Holiday & Easter Coding Camps
This upcoming March and Easter Holidays, come walk through our Coding Lab doors and enter the wide wonderful world of coding! 🤩 With a curious mind, dedicated educators and stunning workbooks, your child is all set to embark on their exciting coding journey! 🛣
Your child’s safety is of utmost importance, which is why the sanitising of classrooms and safe distancing will be put in place at all times. You can even opt for Online classes anytime. Sign up here or feel free to drop us an email, call us orWhatsApp us to get in touch!
Details: When: From 14 March Where: Online, Parkway Parade, Bukit Timah (KAP Mall) Price: From $401.52 Sign up here.
Did you know that there’s a new, tuition-free and teacher-less (read: independent) way to study tech for adults of all backgrounds in Singapore? 😮 That’s right, this is now possible with 42 Singapore, a collaboration between Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and the French non-profit Ecole 42.
Together, 42 Singapore hopes to develop a pipeline of tech talent for the burgeoning digital company. This Computer Science programme is open to anyone above 18 years old regardless of academic qualifications and will commence by the end of 2022, so keep on the lookout for admissions information!
We certainly hope to see more people getting into tech, especially in this digital era. 👀 You can read more about 42 Singapore here!
NFTs are all the rage these days. From artists like Jay Chou to musicians, influencers, that monkey/ape profile picture, and your friend posting about the NFT they just bought, everyone seems to be jumping on this bandwagon. 🤔 So what are NFTs, how do they work, and what is the hype all about? Are you up to date? The Coding Lab Team has it all simplified for you here! 👇
What are NFTs?
NFT stands for ‘Non-Fungible Token’.
Non-Fungible means that the item is unique and cannot be swapped or replaced with something else. It’s exclusive. Token refers to it being digital and protected using blockchain technology.
Putting it together, a Non-Fungible Token is a one-of-a-kind asset. Think of it as owning the only Picasso painting, or one of the rare Pokémon trading cards, or an autographed poster – there is only one original copy of it, and it’s irreplaceable. Purchasing an NFT represents your ownership of the items.
NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency.
Most NFTs today are part of the Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency, which runs on blockchain technology. However, it is not only Ethereum, you can sell an NFT and ask for whatever currency you want.
We get it, more tech buzzwords that are making your head spin! Don’t worry, let’s break it down:
Cryptocurrencies (or cryptos) are digital currencies, based on blockchain technology, with no central authority. This means that instead of banks or the Monetary Authority of Singapore, internet users manage and maintain its value through several computers. The most well-known cryptos include Ethereum and Bitcoin. Similar to money, you can use crypto to buy things or purchase crypto as an investment. Crypto is fungible because 1 ETH / $1 USD is exchangeable for another 1 ETH / $1 USD.
This refers to shared, decentralised financial records of digital assets that cannot be modified. With each transaction, a “block” of data is recorded across several computers in a peer-to-peer network. These blocks are linked – or chained – together to prevent any changes in the blockchain.
Simplified: NFTs are a type of digital currency. Instead of holding money, they hold unique assets like art or music. Instead of banks and other central authorities protecting it, blockchain technology secures it.
“The whole point of using a blockchain is to let people – in particular, people who don’t trust one another – share valuable data in a secure, tamperproof way.” – Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review
How do NFTs work?
NFTs are digital certificates of authenticity with a unique identifier (think: similar to a barcode or ID number), with the sale recorded and secured by the Ethereum blockchain. This record is shared to the public (maintained by thousands of computers around the world) – there are no banks or central authority involved – so anyone can verify it and it can’t be modified or copied. When an NFT is transferred from seller to buyer on a public marketplace, that proof-of-ownership is transferred.
This means tokenising things like photos, art, GIFs, videos, music, animated stickers, programming code, and so much more, which can only have one official owner at a time. This also means creating scarcity of assets (it is up to the owner and available information for the public), which may drive prices up or down.
Confused? Imagine you are going to buy or sell NFTs. You’ll go to an NFT marketplace with your digital wallet, which is NFT-compatible. There are digital photos, art, music, and much more for sale. After browsing, you decide to buy an NFT. The Ethereum blockchain records this sale and publishes it online, ensuring security in your transaction. You get your digital product (which sometimes comes with real-life items) and a unique identifier that certifies that you are the owner of the authentic item.
Recently, Christie’s auction house sold this Beeple JPG file for US$69.3 million (to a Singapore-based technopreneur), a new record for digital-only art. Even real estate – virtual real estate – in the Metaverse, in the online world Decentraland, was sold in the form of NFTs for US$2.4 million (S$3.3 million).
Click here to read more international NFT headlines:
In the sports world, people have spent more than US$230 million on digital collectibles of NBA highlight videos. This blockchain-based card system known as NBA Top Shot includes a highlight video of LeBron James scoring for a record US$208,000.
Did you know that musicians like Kings of Leon and Snoop Dogg are releasing their new albums in the form of an NFT?
Click here for more NFT news in Asia:
You might have seen Jay Chou posting about PhantaBear, which has topped the Global NFT Sales with a total value of US$53 million. Buyers of PhantaBear NFTs are promised the art, ticket access to virtual concerts and special access to premium venues.
Still with us? That last Instagram story you took, the photo of the view outside your window, your phone-recorded rendition of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor played on your keyboard – really anything digital can be minted and sold as NFTs.
After reading all these headlines about buying and selling NFTs, it’s easy to be reeled in. But remember that these are just the success stories and celebrities who are jumping on. Every decision comes with benefits and risks!
What benefits are there?
The hype today revolves around buying and selling digital art on NFT marketplaces.
But what’s so special about digital files that you can just right-click and save? Just like how anyone can buy a Picasso print, only one person can own the original. Only those few can own that luxury bag or that surprise sneaker drop. In NFTs, it’s the blockchain-certified ownership of the original work (and bragging rights).
For artists, creators or sellers:
Artists get a cut of the sales every time their NFT changes hands. They get to make their own terms with ‘smart contracts’ on the blockchain, through a process known as minting NFTs.
Digital work can be sold more easily by trading directly online in NFT marketplaces and with access to a larger audience. A big investor, collector or celebrity might purchase your art, opening the door for you and your work.
Transparency. With all the transactions recorded on the blockchain, prices of the last sale and who the NFT belongs to are visible to everyone. This way, artists know who (the username) and where their NFTs are.
For buyers or collectors:
Anyone can purchase NFTs, unlike traditional art auctions where buyers are vetted.
NFTs as an investment. Just as with other assets, you can buy NFTs with the hope of its value appreciating in the future, so that you can sell it for a profit.
Some NFTs come with perks, such as real-world items, access to digital or in-person events, and free NFTs.
Remember that not all NFTs are like that one original Picasso piece. It could also be the Pokémon trading card with 5 copies, or even 50. Some people see NFTs like fine art collecting, while others treat it like collecting Pokémon cards.
“Artists have been using hardware and software to create artwork and distribute it on the internet for the last 20 plus years but there was never a real way to truly own and collect it. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art.” – Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, NPR
What are the issues?
1. Scammers are everywhere, and that includes NFTs.
As much as NFTs are now a new way for creators to earn money, it opens up new avenues for art theft as well. Several artists have their work turned into NFTs without their consent or any attribution, some even through impersonating the artists themselves. Copying and stealing work is easy with a few clicks, and minting NFTs is an anonymous process that allows art theft to go unnoticed. It happens in the real-world with fakes and plagiarism, it goes on in the digital world as well.
You might be wondering, “Isn’t blockchain technology safer?” Well, cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology, and have been stolen before.
With anonymity and lack of verification, it’s hard to know what you’re buying and who you’re buying from. For example, the Evolved Apes NFT project promised “a collection of 10,000 unique NFTs trapped inside a lawless land”. With US$2.7 million, the developer disappeared and buyers never got a thing. This isn’t the first time that something like this happened.
2. There are concerns about the environmental impact of NFTs.
When blockchain technology runs on computers across the world, it’s no surprise that it is energy-intensive. Similar to cryptocurrencies, it uses a lot of electricity and emits greenhouse gases, which contributes to climate change. When minting an NFT, it requires you to verify your transactions to create new blocks on the blockchain. This is done through mining, where you have to solve challenging mathematical problems and requires powerful computers.
For measure, each NFT transaction on the Ethereum network takes up about two American households’ worth of daily energy. That’s a lot. This is also why you sometimes have to pay “gas” fees when you make a transaction. It’s also why some people are boycotting NFTs. There are some greener alternative NFT platforms and using renewable energy, though the environmental impact is still a huge concern.
3. Legal questions surround NFTs.
The artist or creator still retains the original work after the sale, and can continue sharing and selling it. As an NFT buyer, you own a unique identifier of a work of art, not the copyright to the art. After all, these are still digital files that you can copy and paste, and artists can create scarcity of their own assets when they choose to sell 1 copy of it, maybe 5, or even 50 of it.
Smart contracts are often embedded into NFTs, so it’s important that you know the terms of your sale and purchase. Aside from protecting the creator’s rights to royalties, it may also have conditions that limit you from transferring your NFT. (Yes, smart contracts on blockchains is a thing.)
Keep in mind that NFTs are still a relatively new asset class, so the legality and regulations around it are still under development across the world, and very much of it falls in the grey area.
NFTs are not regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and are not considered legal tender.
Did you know? Cryptocurrency is beginning to be accepted as a method of payment. Bitcoin is now welcomed on websites like Microsoft, Expedia, in countries like El Salvador, and institutional adoption by the European Investment Bank. Such decentralised finance (also known as DeFi) is said to be the next big thing in fintech.
You’re not missing out.
Just because you see it in countless news articles, on so many celebrities’ profile pictures, and your friends posting about it, it doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on the latest investment. NFT markets are volatile, especially for something so new with no proven track record. There are NFTs that have fallen in value, even those minted by celebrities.
“With all these new platforms, for every individual, the caveat is you really need to know what you’re doing. If you’re not comfortable with it, don’t get near it. As you can see from cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, it is very volatile.” – Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who sold a few NFTs of his landscape photographs for charity, CNA
Should you get involved in NFTs?
NFTs are definitely on the rise, and can be a great opportunity for you whether you’re a creator, seller, collector or buyer. You may be having these questions: Where do I start buying? How do I start selling?
Don’t just jump on the hype train. Whether you’re a seller or buyer, do your due diligence to find out more about reputable NFT marketplaces, secure cryptocurrency wallets and how to keep your money safe. Heard of OpenSea or Polygon? Don’t share your seed phrase? Do you know the additional transaction or “gas” fees? NFTs are complicated and ever-changing. There is so much more to NFTs than what is written here!
If you’re investing, remember that the market is unpredictable. Carefully consider the risks and benefits, read the smart contracts and find reputable NFT marketplaces and sellers.
If you’re collecting, then just like physical art, its value is subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder. You’ll be supporting the artist along the way too.
If you’re selling, it could open the door for you and your work if you know your smart contracts and learn how to collect your money safely.
“The truth is that the value of any NFT is speculative. Its value is determined by what someone else is willing to pay for it and nothing else.” – Dragan Boscovic, Research Professor of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University, The Conversation
You may be wondering if NFTs have a future.
And if so, what’s in store? Should you invest now? Or is this another bubble waiting to burst?
We don’t have the answers either. We might just stick to right-clicking to save our photos or we could be busy minting our next NFT with our lines of programming codes (just like this 12-year-old coder did as the developer and web app creator of an NFT collection that is raking in millions).
This might be the next big thing or a hype that will die down once the next thing comes out. Just like Bitcoin was once seen as the digital currency, NFTs are now the digital collectibles. Maybe the Metaverse is next.
… Or watch this video interview to hear from Kyran himself!
Hello, Kyran! How did your adventure with coding begin? What do you like most about it?
I first started coding when my mother introduced me to Scratch Jr. I found it interesting as I could create simple games and animations. I started to code more frequently, learning more and more things along the way. The part I liked most about coding was that I could use my own imagination and creativity to create the things I wanted.
“The part I liked most about coding was that I could use my own imagination and creativity to create the things I wanted.”
We’re excited to have you at Coding Lab too! Could you share how coding has made a difference in your life?
Coding allows me to understand what goes behind animations, games and applications. I learnt to appreciate the hard work that developers put into their creation, however simple it may seem.
I have also learnt to be more organised. As the code gets longer, it is important for me to be organised so that it is easier to debug the code.
“Kyran is an exceptional student who is enthusiastic in his learning. He is organised and attentive to details, and does not shy away from asking questions in class. When encountering something unfamiliar, he is able to solve problems quickly and with minimal hints.
I am very impressed by Kyran’s determination and perseverance. Kyran always gives his very best to tackle class challenges on his own. With his knowledge and passion for coding, he has repeatedly shown great improvement in his classes and it is a joy to have him as our Coding Lab student.”
Why do you think learning to code is so important?
Many things rely on coding to work. This includes phone apps, websites or desktop applications. For example, coding can be used to create applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Discord to connect with our friends online. It also makes life easier for us. Instead of spending time doing repetitive routines, coding can help us to create automations on our computer.
“I learnt not to give up as there will definitely be a solution out there.”
What difficulties did you face while learning to code – and how did you overcome them?
When learning to code, sometimes my code does not work. To overcome this, I will search for solutions and ask if needed. I learnt not to give up as there will definitely be a solution out there.
Apart from coding, what do you do in your spare time?
I like to play Roblox and read books related to it. I also enjoy reading non-fiction books!
Tell us, what is your future dream school?
I hope to go to a school that focuses on Science and Technology subjects as these are where my interest lie. It would be great if the school offers the opportunity for me to learn more programming languages too!
Do share with us what your dream job is!
My dream job is to become a software application developer, where I can create, test and upgrade apps for others to use. I plan to learn programming languages such as Python and C# and be proficient enough to get the job.
I’m interested in learning C# as I can use this language to create Universal Windows Platform (UWP)* apps that can be published to the Microsoft Store. (I am a huge fan of Microsoft!)
*UWP is a common programming platform for all Microsoft products, including Windows, Xbox, Surface Hub and HoloLens.
That’s so cool! We wish you all the best. Do you have any advice for young people like you to begin their journey with coding?
I would tell them that coding may seem intimidating at first. However, with more practice, coding can be so much fun. So take that first step to learn coding and don’t give up even when you are faced with challenges!
Last but not least, what is your favourite project – and why?
My favourite project is the Clockc programme which I created for my own use. This programme includes functions like Timer, Alarm, StopWatch and Countdown. There is also a unique “Work ‘n Rest” function which reminds me when to work and rest my eyes. I find this project useful as it is an all-in-one program that contains many functions related to time.
Thank you for sharing your coding journey with us, Kyran! He started learning at Coding Lab with App Inventor in 2020, and has quickly progressed on to our S200 Advanced Electives (for ages 13-18). His passion for programming shines with lots of potential, and we’re so excited to see what the future has in store for him!
Young programmers like Kyran demonstrate that it’s never too early to embark on your own coding journey! We hope that you’ll be an inspiration to others for them to pick up coding, no matter the age. ✨