Something special comes around every four years… and we’re not just talking about the Olympics. It’s the ever-so-elusive 29th February in a year that has 366 days.


In celebration of 2020 being a leap year, here are 5 fun facts about leap years that you (probably) didn’t know about.

1. Leap Years are because of the Earth’s rotation

It takes the Earth approximately 365.24 days (or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds [1]) to complete its rotation around the sun. This is one solar year. To make up for that missing 0.24+ days, 29 February is added to the year’s calendar every four years.

Bonus: Leap years are in multiples of four, but century years (e.g. 1900, 2000) do not follow this rule [2]. They must be multiples of 400 to be a leap year, so 1900 and 2100 are not leap years. In summary, leap years are divisible by four, but centuries are an exception whereby only the years that are divisible by 400 are leap years.

Don’t worry, we’ve made it simpler for you to find out if a year is Leap or not. 😎 Check out our Leap Year Generator below! Simply input the range of the years you want to check, and voila! the years which qualify as Leap years will appear. #themagicofcode #leapyeargeneratorftw

2. Thank Julius Caesar for Leap Day

Before Julius Caesar took over the Roman Empire, it was a 355-day-a-year system, where there would be an extra 22-day month every two years [2]. He had his astronomer, Sosigenes, modify the system into having a leap day every four years.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII and his astronomers improved it to come up with the Gregorian calendar. It was then decided that there would be no leap year every 400 years, which is how leap day as we know it came to fruition [3].

3. Leap Days/Months/Years are different in other calendars

While the Gregorian calendar (the one that is mainly used) stipulates that 29 February is the Leap Day, this isn’t the case in other calendars.

  • The official Indian calendar arranges its months differently from the Gregorian calendar. The first half of the year have 31 days, while months in the second half of the year, so the leap day is planned close to 29 February [34].
  • The Chinese calendar has 12 months with 353 to 355 days in a year. A leap year happens every three years where a month is added and the year has 383 to 385 days instead. The leap month even has the same name as the previous month! [56]

Leap days and years happen for other planets too! Its own orbit around the sun to make up a year are not exact as well, so these ‘leaps’ happen to ‘make up for it’. On Mars, for example, a year is made up of 668.599 Martian days. Every three years, a day is subtracted – so the leap days are then divisible by 2 or 5 [78].

Bonus: The odds of being born on 29th February, a leap day, is one in 1,461 [2]. What’s the math behind this? It’s simply the probability of being born once every four years, but since the fourth year has 366 days, the sum is: 365 + 365 + 365 + 366 = 1,461

4. The Leap Year Capital of the World is Anthony

In 1988, neighbours Mary Ann Brown and Birdie Lewis and leaplings (people born on 29 February) got the idea to create a festival to celebrate Leap Day. Officials gave them the go-ahead, so the little town has been celebrating with a four-day Leap Year Festival every four years complete with music, food and fun! [910]

This year is no exception. It’s held in Anthony, on the border of Texas and New Mexico, in the United States of America [9], and has been declared by the governors as the Leap Year Capital of the World.

5. Women used to propose on this day

Back then, it was a tradition for men to propose, but on leap days, women could pop the question instead. There have been various origin stories of how this came about.

Legend goes that St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for suitors to propose in the 5th Century, so he granted 29th February as the day for women to propose. [23] Another common story is that adding 29th February every four years was deemed as ‘ridiculous’ and was not recognised by the English law as a day. As it was not a ‘legal day’, traditions could be broken on this day and a British play joked that it was a day where women should act like men. This inspired women to propose to men on Leap Day – eventually evolving into Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins Day – an event still celebrated in the United Kingdom today. [211]

Another legend is that Queen Margaret of Scotland decreed that men would get fined for turning down marriage proposals by women in the leap year [2]. In Denmark, 12 pairs of gloves must be given to the woman if a Danish man refuses the marriage proposal. As for Finland, fabric for a skirt is given instead. In Greece, getting married in a leap year is considered unlucky. [29]

Of course, it’s more common for women to propose marriage now! Did you hear about the lady who proposed to her boyfriend at the football match between Manchester United and Inter Milan at Singapore’s National Stadium? You can read about it here.

Bonus: a hotel in Iceland is offering a free stay for couples if women propose on Leap Day [12].


Special fun fact (18+): The Leap Year cocktail  

Let’s toast to it! In 1928, pioneering bartender Harry Craddock at London’s renowned Savoy Hotel invented the Leap Day Cocktail. He published it in his 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book. [9, 11]

Leap Year Cocktail Recipe

(Written by Cheryl Tang)

March. The month of school holidays and Easter break, where you can travel, explore or go on family activities… but as it all flies by so quickly, why not make the most of it? The team here at Coding Lab has put together fun tech-tivities that you and your kiddos can do together!

Magical Shores at Sentosa

Experience Singapore’s first beach light attraction, where art is produced in real-time by tracking and recording data of the wind speed and people’s movements. It’s sure to intrigue your budding tech kiddos to think of how such real-time art is produced with the power of technology, as well as for everyone to revel in the FREE multi-sensory experience of lights and sounds, with various different acts – each with its own charm and beauty.

Magical Shores at Sentosa

From 23 January 2020, Daily*
(subject to weather conditions)
7.30pm – 10.30pm
Siloso Beach, Sentosa

For more details, click here.

Home-Based E-Learning

If you’re looking to stay indoors this school holidays, why not try out our Home-Based E-Learning classes for just $10? Let your child learn the basics of programming games and animations with Scratch or pick up one of the most versatile and popular programming languages, Python, from your living room or their own bedroom. They’ll get to learn directly from one of our passionate tutors, while maximising their time by picking up a 21st century skill!

E-Learning (7-18)

From 29 February 2020 – 5 March 2020
Various dates and timings available
From your own home!
At only $10

To sign up and for more details, click here.

We’re also having a special online Easter coding workshop for two hours, at only $10! You and your child are more than welcomed to join us in programming a bunny to go on an egg hunt and to decorate the Easter eggs, in true Easter fashion. Don’t fret, our usual March Holidays and Easter break camps for the age groups of 7-9, 10-12 and 13-18 are still ongoing, if face-to-face classes are preferred!

If you haven’t checked out our February techtivities at the ArtScience Museum, it’s still open (until 29 March for Disney: Magic of Animation and 5 April for 2219: Futures Imagined)!

(Written by Cheryl Tang)

Meet Christian. At only 12 years old, he has already breezed through our roadmap and attended our Python Perfect classes (which we recommend to 13-year-olds and above), where he coded an impressive Pokémon game on his own.

His story has been featured on the Tiny Thinkers blog before, which covered how the special needs child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and gradually found his passion for programming. We talk to the young boy, who is part of Eunos Primary School’s Robotics Club and aspires to be a professional coder, as he continues his coding journey with us.

Christian's parents kick-started his interest in programming when they bought him a book titled "Adventures in Minecraft".
Christian’s parents kick-started his interest in programming when they bought him a book titled “Adventures in Minecraft”.

Hi Christian! Could you tell us about your program? 

Christian: I started it in class after I finished my Python assignment from the teacher. I would continue to work on it as a reward whenever I finished my in-class assignments early! The program is like playing the Pokémon game without the graphics, so it’s all text-based in Python.

What gave you the idea for the program?

Christian: Everyone else seemed to be coding something practical, I suppose maybe because they were older. I didn’t really know what practical stuff I could code, so I decided to do a simple Pokémon program because I was playing it quite a bit on my Nintendo Switch.


What were some difficulties you faced when developing this program? 

Christian: I ran into a lot, of course. There was one when I asked to view the Pokémon in my party, and all the letters would split up. It took me a while to realise that I was missing a function. Generally, attending classes helped me to solve what I needed to know but the Coding Lab teachers also taught me what I didn’t know codes could do. They also gave me hints on what could have gone wrong with my codes, suggested more efficient ones, and even gave me ideas on how to improve my program.

“Start small, start with something you like. Keep going and don’t give up!”

Do you have any future plans for your program?

Christian: Currently, I am preparing for the dreaded PSLE. But I’m looking to add more features to my game, and to modify it to a more MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) style that I enjoy playing. It’s still not completed yet, so I just want to finish it and run it. Hopefully, after I finish my program, I can get some beta testers who can give me suggestions on how to improve.

Christian, 12, spends most of his free time on the computer or reading on Kindle.
Christian, 12, spends most of his free time on the computer or reading on Kindle.

What advice would you give to young coders who are new to coding?

Christian: Start small, start with something you like. Keep going and don’t give up!

Christian, 12, is a student at Eunos Primary School taking his PSLE this year. He started off with our Scratch holiday workshop course in 2018 and has since completed our ScratchMIT App Inventor and Python classes.

He aspires to be a professional coder in the gaming industry and to work at Google someday. It is evident that Christian loves coding, and it is one of his many strengths. We’re sure that he will do great, and we look forward to seeing his future programs! 

(Written by Cheryl Tang)

#CodingInRealLife: 3 Cool Things You Can Use Coding For

Programs, apps, games… it seems like coding is all so digital, isn’t it?

Sometimes you just want to code something tangible – something you can see or feel, or even taste. Here are three real-world items that use code (and if you experiment with these items, you can program it too), which gives you an idea of how you can experiment and program things too.

1. DIY Light-Up Shoes


Do your own thing with your shoes! You can have modified, custom light-up Vans or Adidas shoes with strobe lighting, lights that ‘blink’ with each step or maybe even lit up with your own words. There’s no bigger flex than saying “I did this myself” when you’re complimented on your one-of-a-kind shoes. All you need are LED strips (make sure they’re waterproof!) and curiosity… and any additional items, depending on what your end goal is.

Would you believe that coding is actually used in such projects? Why not kick it up a notch? Code it on your own, and you could be posting your very own codes online for others!

2. Self-Watering Plants


We all know that tech can improve our lives. Why not take it a step further to simplify gardening? But be warned, you need plenty of research beforehand! What are the ideal conditions for seeds to germinate? When does the plant need more water and how will this happen? How much water is sufficient? These are just some questions you have to think about.

Alternatively, you can buy one yourself. Click and Grow makes Smart Gardens for your own indoor herb gardens. As they say, “Grow anything with zero effort”! It comes with self-timers for the lights and you only need to refill the water tank every two to three weeks, depending on the plants you grow.

3. Robotic Woks 

CODING LAB - Robot Wok

Is it 3020 already? It’s futuristic to imagine having robot chefs whipping up consistent meals for us… but this is already a reality – here in Singapore. At Resorts World Sentosa’s Ruyi, under Tunglok Group, fried rice is being whipped up by a robotic wok.

Can’t cook? If you’re considering to purchase a robo chef for yourself, MIK Corporation from Japan sells a diverse range of it – from making your own sushi to fried rice too. Of course, it comes with a hefty price tag… unless you can code your own wok!

(Written by Cheryl Tang)

Want to get your minds away from the books? Or simply want to discover the wonders of science?

The Coding Lab team has found some fun tech-tivities – programmes and exhibitions in February – suitable for families with children and teens at the ArtScience Museum!

Disney: Magic of Animation 

If you are an avid Disney fan like us who cannot stop singing “Into the Unknown” (from Frozen 2 in 2019) or even the classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” (from Pinocchio in 1940), this is for you. From famous characters like Mickey Mouse to old-time favourite movies like The Lion King (1994) to Moana (2016), delve into behind-the-scenes of the renowned Walt Disney Animation Studios and be amazed at the capabilities and advancements of animation.

This family-friendly techtivity will get your child excited and intrigued as it showcases brilliant motion effects, graphics and sounds from our favourite Disney movies.

disney magic of animation

26 October 2019 – 29 March 2020
ArtScience Museum
Tickets from $12

English Guided Tours:
Friday 7 & 21 Feb | 3.00pm – 4.00pm
Saturday 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 Feb | 11.30am – 12.30pm
Sunday 2, 9, 16 & 23 Feb | 11.30am – 12.30pm

For more details, click here.

2219: Futures Imagined

To those who fancy a more contemplative atmosphere, this exhibition gets you to picture what the future holds and reflect on the kind of future that you want for Singapore. It is organised into 5 Acts – Act 1: Arrival, Act 2: Home, Act 3: Underworld, Act 4: Adaptation & Act 5: Memory – all of which showcase the types of futures and contemporary issues we may possibly face. Step into and be a part of a series of immersive installations, meditative spaces and films and envision how our everyday lives would be, 200 years from now.

artscience museum

23 November 2019 – 5 April 2020
ArtScience Museum
Tickets from $12

English Guided Tours:
Friday 14 & 28 Feb | 3.00pm – 4.00pm
Saturday 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 Feb | 4.00pm – 5.00pm
Sunday 2, 9, 16, & 23 Feb | 4.00pm – 5.00pm

Advisory: Some mature content (more suitable for teens/adults) 

For more information on this exhibition, click here.

Who said that Valentine’s Day is only for couples? We also have a Valentine’s Day workshop for some parent-child bonding in February. Enable your child to continue learning about animation through Scratch, offered in our weekly classes! If you are a teen, aspire to be a change-maker by learning app development or Python.

If you haven’t checked out our January techtivity at Gardens by the Bay, it’s still open (until 15 March)!