Have you ever wondered what are the opportunities unlocked for your child after learning how to code? With the right foundation and guidance, children will grow to be confident and creative problem solvers as they apply math to real-world situations. They can apply the knowledge they’ve learnt to not only their programming projects, but also to areas like lighting for animation, the making of MacBooks and many more!

Here are 5 tech geniuses whose early exposure to coding has brought them to where they are today – these successful individuals have brought much change in the digital transformation of the 21st century. Read on to find out more about them! 🔍


Danielle Feinberg (Pixar Animation Studios)

You have probably watched Danielle Feinberg’s work on the big screen without even knowing. The Director of Photography for Lighting at Pixar Animation Studios [1] was in charge of coding the lighting in well-loved movies like Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles and many more that you watch with your kids! Yes you read that right, these animated movies could not have been made possible without coding [2]! 

Since young, Danielle had always been in love with math, science and code. When she was 10, she got the opportunity to join a programming class where she got to program photos on the computer – and this experience left her absolutely fascinated! Growing up, she continued to attend summer camps and after school programs for students interested in computer programming and engineering. 

Afterwards in Harvard University, she was introduced to computer animation in her first year as a Computer Science student. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, her love for art, coding and creating things propelled her to work at Pixar – where she discovered her passion for coding in the lighting department. 
Outside of Pixar, she inspires and encourages girls who have interest in STEM through groups like Girls Who Code.

“The idea that all the math, science and code that I’ve been learning, could come together to create these worlds and characters and stories I connected with, was pure magic for me.” – Danielle Feinberg in her TED Talk: The magic ingredient that brings Pixar to life


Jack Dorsey (Twitter)

Who wouldn’t be familiar with the term ‘tweet’? There are about 6,000 tweets uploaded every second – messages that allow users to express themselves in a short and snappy way. We definitely would not have been able to tweet if it weren’t for Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. 

Having had a huge interest in city infrastructure and transportation when he was a teenager, Jack started learning how to program on his own so as to understand how the city works [3]. 

When he was 15, he wrote dispatch software which would then remain in use by taxicab companies to manage the logistics of their dispatch for decades afterward. Inspired by his dispatch work and the instant messaging services that were growing popular at that time, he came up with the idea that would become Twitter. 

After pitching his idea to a Silicon Valley company, he then went on to code the prototype with the help of another programmer in just two weeks. From only having 5000 users in 2006, Twitter now has 330 million monthly active users to date [4]. 

Though his journey had its fair share of ups and downs, Jack stayed dedicated and developed his skills to become the programmer and businessman that he is today. Aside from Twitter, he now also runs a company called Square – a form of mobile payment that is used in multiple countries worldwide. 

“My goal is to simplify complexity.” – Jack Dorsey


Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

When was the last time you bought something from Amazon? Have you ever wondered who was the genius behind it? 

Well, it’s none other than Jeff Bezos! 

As a child, Jeff was curious about how everything worked – he especially had a particular interest in computers. When he was 10, he stayed after school hours with his friends to tinker with a computer and taught themselves programming from books. This experience inspired a lifelong love of invention. 

Immersed in the world of technology, Jeff took part in the NASA high school initiative and went on to major in Computer Science at Princeton University. Upon graduation, he worked as a coder and even ventured into the realm of wall street before starting Amazon on his own [5]. 

Jeff first started off with selling books on the e-commerce website. As sales rocketed and the years went by, Amazon jumped into new markets and started offering products other than books like music, video, and holiday gifts. 

The Amazon today has become a dominant player in the worlds of e-commerce, digital streaming and artificial intelligence. Thanks to Jeff’s relentless efforts, Amazon has become many users’ one-stop destination for almost anything and everything. 

“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.” – Jeff Bezos


Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, you can easily stay connected with your friends and family on Facebook – be it sharing a post that you found funny, sending a message to a loved one or even playing an online game with your friend! 

At the tender age of 10, Mark’s father introduced him to a computer and together, they wrote a program that allowed all the computers between the house and his father’s dental office to communicate with each other [6]. Soon, Mark was studying with a programming tutor, reading his first book on programming and even made games out of his friends’ drawings. 

His hunger for progress didn’t stop there. Mark went on to pursue a degree at Harvard, where he built a site in his sophomore year called CourseMatch – a site that lets students choose classes together. Afterwards, social networking site Facebook was born – a site which would then continue to grow into the giant that it is today. 

From building Facebook in his humble beginnings (his Harvard dorm room), Mark now has a Facebook headquarters based in California and is now running the site with over 48,000 employees. While he has a lot on his plate – like raising his two daughters and running his company – Mark ensures that he is productive and balanced. For the many hours that he has to work, he also dedicates time for family, leisure and exercise. 

Although Mark had been offered millions and billions of dollars for Facebook, he would often turn such offers down. Did you know that he has walked away from such deals for at least 11 times [7]? His vision of where he wanted Facebook to be made him dream big and never settled for less. 

“My goal was never to just create a company. It was to build something that actually makes a really big change in the world.” – Mark Zuckerberg


Bill Gates (Microsoft)

You probably know Bill Gates as the one who founded Microsoft – the world’s largest personal computer software company. When he was 13, his school was one of the first in the country to get a computer terminal. From there, he spent his time playing with it and fell in love with programming [8]. 

“Exposure from a young age to the realities of the world is a super-big thing.” – Bill Gates

His first software program was done when he was still 13 years old – the popular game of tic-tac-toe. When he ran out of money to pay to use the school computer, he got around to logging into it as the system operator so as to get around the time limit [9]. 

Still in high school, he and his friend Paul Allen started a traffic counter startup known as ‘Traf-O-Data’, but the company eventually went under. This failure, however, did not dissuade Bill but instead taught him the value of combining programming and business together. With the lessons he had learnt from his first startup, Bill went on to start Microsoft – his most successful venture to date. 

Due to Bill’s guidance and perseverance, Microsoft has become the well-known multinational technology company that it is today. Although Bill is no longer its CEO, he remains one of the largest individual shareholders of Microsoft. Aside from this, he now chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation.


It’s amazing to learn how all these techies discovered what they loved to do when they were young, and then continued to pursue and become the successful people they are today! 

If your child is interested in learning something, let them learn – who knows, your child might just be the next big thing in it!

Fun Techtivities in August!

As Singapore eases the Circuit Breaker measures, we present more tech-activities to you. All of these don’t cost a cent, can keep your keen kiddos occupied and perhaps even inspire them to create more of such great tech stuff in the future!

Free Cirque du Soleil Shows

The world-renowned Montreal-based entertainment company and the largest contemporary circus producer in the world are on our screens! From aerial to 60-minute specials, behind-the-scenes and even workouts from the artists, catch it all on their YouTube channel.

Details:
Cirque du Soleil YouTube Channel
Price: Free
To access it, click here.


The Musical Time Machine

Choose the country and decade and the Radiooooo selects which song to play for you. From 1900s till today, pick your desired modes (shuffle, taxi, islands) and tempo (slow, fast, weird) and it will do the work of finding the song! Check it out here.

Radiooooo.com, The Musical Time Machine

Details:
Online
Price: Free
To access it, click here.


Top 10 shows/cartoons to teach children about STEM

STEM education focuses on educating students in 4 specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Allow your children to learn topics ranging from outer space to math and myth-busting – all with these awesome shows, recommended by our Coding Lab team!

Image of kids for Top 10 STEM shows for kids blogpost

Details:
Recommended by the Coding Lab team
Price: Free
To access it, click here.


That’s all that we have for this month’s techtivities! Read Hopefully, our online activities help tide you through the time spent at home. Use CODINGONLINE to get 12% off our online classes. We hope everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out virtual Disney World, world-renowned musicals with The Shows Must Go On, resources to educate your kids about Covid-19, and other July techtivities here!

We had almost a hundred responses spanning four continents who participated in our online Young Coders Global Hackathon. During the global pandemic, technology showed its prowess to transcend boundaries and unite individuals who displayed their creativity by coding around the topics of the coronavirus.

Catch the action that took place during the two months of intense coding!

YCGH Quote from Founder, Yong Ning

From storytelling to games with multiple well-crafted levels, it was a difficult judging process to narrow down the Top 11. Our young junior coders then proceeded to the semifinals that were hosted LIVE on YouTube, where they had to present their Scratch ideas to the audience. They dressed up, did presentations and blew the judges away with their eloquence! Watch the action here.

Screenshot of YCGH Finalists - Junior Category

Our seven finalists didn’t crack under pressure as they coded LIVE in our YouTube finals, which you can view here:

These young coders under 12 years old battled it out to be crowned the finalists of our Young Coders Global Hackathon! You can click on their names to find out more about these future leaders in technology.


1st Place: Thaddeus Aaron Chung

Age: 12
Singapore

12-year-old Thaddeus in action during the hackathon
12-year-old Thaddeus in action during the hackathon

2nd Place: Ignacy Kus

Age: 12
Szczecin, Poland

Photo of Ignacy, a sixth-grader from Szczecin in Poland, who is giving his prize to a child with financial difficulties.
Meet Ignacy, the sixth-grader from Szczecin in Poland who is giving his prize to a child with financial difficulties.

Hobbies: Programming (C++), mathematics (this week: hyperbolic geometry) and computer games are my hobbies. In my free time, I play video games (Roblox, Scrap Mechanic, Minecraft, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Doom).

How did you start coding? My first encounter with coding languages was when I attended a local coding club. I was six years old. I started to code in Scratch, Baltie and Visual Basic. Scratch and Baltie were quite simple but Visual Basic was hardcore for six-year-old me. I think it was good for me to start learning with something hard.

My father’s advice to younger me:

1. Never give up.
2. Try to create something that you want to play, use or watch.
3. Don’t think about the things that limit you.
4. You should focus on one thing and get to know it really well.

However, it is not important what you code, it is important that you code.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I am always looking for new opportunities to improve my coding abilities, thus I participate in many contests. Every contest is a real challenge and they motivate me to work. Let’s not forget about prizes… My parents and I find contests on the Internet, as was the case of YCGH 2020.

What have you learned? The most important thing in the competition was the possibility of meeting other coders and listening to them. I greatly enjoy meeting coders from all around the world. The foot trip from Szczecin to Singapore is 12,373km!

Future coding aspirations: My main aspiration is attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the future. I am focused on mathematics and algorithms (C++). In the future, I want to be an Artificial Intelligence (AI) game developer.


3rd Place: Wang Jun Min

Age: 11
Singapore

Photo of Jun Min, the 11-year-old who aspires to learn more coding languages.
Meet Jun Min, the 11-year-old who aspires to learn more coding languages.

Hobbies: Playing computer games, chatting with my friends and solving mathematical problems. I like to spend my free time doing my hobbies and exercising.

How did you start coding? I started with a holiday camp (Scratch 1) in Primary 1. After that, I practised trying out new blocks myself and making new projects. The following year, I attended Scratch 2, after which I was invited to join the Gifted Coders.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I like Scratch and the competition tests your ability to create your own Scratch projects and make interesting codes.  I love to code while using mathematics. I had been reading up about how the virus spreads and how fast it spreads, so I felt the hackathon theme was relevant to me.

What have you learned? I learned about perseverance. During the live finals, I accidentally deleted a big chunk of code which I had spent quite a long time doing. Instead of giving up, I calmed down and persevered and redid the whole chunk. It was also a great experience because I learnt more about coding from the other coders, and it was a chance to mingle with kids from other countries. I also learned how to work under the stress of time in the live finals!

Future coding aspirations: I’m planning to make more games and am currently studying platformers and how to make them more interesting.  I would also like to learn more coding languages because they may have more powerful capabilities than Scratch and are also more interesting. My future occupation will be coding-related – I would like to become a game designer. 


Merit (Best Storyline): Andrew Goh

Age: 11
Singapore

Photo of Andrew, the well-spoken 11-year-old.
Meet the articulate 11-year-old, Andrew.

Hobbies: I enjoy coding, playing tennis, reading, filming and creating content and animation for my school’s YouTube channel. When I am free, I like to learn new magic tricks.

How did you start coding? I watched my older sister code when I was 7 years old and I wanted to create digital games myself, so my mom enrolled me for lessons. I have enjoyed coding ever since.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I had been following the news on the pandemic, so I decided to use my coding skills and creativity to see if I could help people protect themselves from COVID-19.

What have you learned? As a coder, I have learnt that I can use my skills to create useful, timely and fun apps to positively impact people’s behaviour in uncertain times. I may even be able to save lives! I have also learnt the importance of design thinking as a planning tool to help me create programs that would solve users’ problems.

Future coding aspirations: Right now, I am learning more complex codes to hopefully create more challenging but useful programs in the future. My future occupation may be coding related – I can pair coding with robotics or AI to create/design something cool and useful.


Merit (Best Creative Project): Erika Tada

Age: 11
Japan

Photo of Erika, the creative 11-year-old.
Meet the creative 11-year-old, Erika.

Hobbies: Drawing and playing the violin. I like to play and make videos in Roblox during my free time.

How did you start coding? I started coding when my parents signed me up in the Coding Lab summer school when I was 7.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? Since most of my activities were cancelled [due to the coronavirus], I decided to try something new.

What have you learned? I learned how exciting a hackathon can be, and how it is like to code live.

Future coding aspirations: In the future, I would like to design apps, be able to code with Python or maybe make a game in Roblox.


Merit (Best Game Programming): Janson Soh

Age: 12
Singapore

Photo of Janson, the Robotics and Infocomm Club student.
Meet the Robotics and Infocomm Club student, Janson.

Hobbies: I like cycling and coding games. During my free time, I play my games on my phone, code games or cycle.

How did you start coding? When I joined the Robotics Club at my school, our teacher allowed us to play games. By chance, I saw a folder on the screen about a Scratch project. Later, I found out that it was made by a member of the Infocomm Club. Then, I became interested in coding. The next year, I joined the school’s Infocomm Club and that was where I started coding games on Scratch.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? My mother informed me about YCGH. As I like coding and have never joined a coding competition, I agreed to join. It was fun and I really look forward to the next competition.

What have you learned? From my YCGH journey, I learnt how to code under pressure especially during the finals where I was given approximately an hour to complete a coding programme. It also helped me to improve my presentation skills.

Future coding aspirations: My future coding aspirations are learning how to make games on Unity. I am currently making a story mode game. After that, I would make a zombie survival game. In the future, I would want a job as a coder.


Merit (Best Game Design): Javen Lim

Age: 11
Singapore

Photo of Javen, the enthusiastic and bubbly young coder.
Meet the enthusiastic and bubbly young coder, Javen.

Hobbies: I enjoy reading non-fiction books and programming in Scratch and Python.

How did you start coding? My interest was sparked when I started Primary 1 and had Computer Lab lessons at school. I was fascinated when I found out that I could use keyboard characters to form graphics in Notepad. When my parents asked if I would like to attend Coding Lab’s holiday workshops, I readily agreed. There was no turning back. I Iater moved on to attending their regular classes.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? My mum read about the YCGH and shared with me about it. I decided to join the YCGH because I feel that coding is important, especially in this modern age and I wanted to gain more experience in this domain and have some fun at the same time. 

What have you learned? A competition should not just be about winning, but more importantly, the learning process which allows us to improve ourselves. It was really interesting to look at other coders’ projects and compare it with my own, to find out which areas I could improve on. 

Future coding aspirations: I hope to learn JavaScript and C++. If possible, I would like to develop a social platform for sharing of educational content, discoveries and a place where geeks of a certain subject get together. 


This concludes our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020. We would like to thank our participants from all over the world, and it’s been a joy getting together and collaborating with Coding Lab Japan. See you next year!

Read about the Senior Category’s Top 5 by clicking here.

We had almost a hundred responses spanning four continents who participated in our online Young Coders Global Hackathon. During the global pandemic, technology showed its prowess to transcend boundaries and unite individuals who displayed their creativity by coding around the topics of the coronavirus.

Catch the action that took place during the two months of intense coding!

YCGH Quote from Founder, Yong Ning

The limits were endless with Python, and submissions were brimming with creativity and potential. Our top 10 young senior coders then proceeded to the semifinals that were hosted LIVE on YouTube, where they had to present their ideas to the audience. Watch the action here.

Screenshot of YCGH Finalists - Senior Category

Our five finalists were neck-to-neck as they coded LIVE in our YouTube finals, which you can view here:

These young coders aged 13 to 18 proved their mettle to be crowned the finalists of our Young Coders Global Hackathon! You can click on their names to find out more about these future leaders in technology.


1st Place: Emily Ong
(Individual)

Age: 18
Singapore

Photo of Emily, the JC2 student from Dunman High's Robotics Club.
Meet Emily, the JC2 student from Dunman High’s Robotics Club.

Hobbies: I like to do computing or math-related things, and try to play chess and other action games. When inspiration hits me, I also like to solve some competitive programming problems.

How did you start coding? I started coding in secondary school probably through sites such as CodeCombat. From there, I was able to explore more things related to computing.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I heard about the competition from my teacher and decided to join the competition as it was socially meaningful and inspiring.

What have you learned? I have learnt a lot about presenting projects and am more receptive to feedback from other people. I did not manage to have the time to join online meetups, although it would be cool to know more about other people’s projects. Furthermore, I realised how it becomes more purposeful and applicable when we start to integrate technical ideas with real-life scenarios and other fields, such as Economics, in my project.

Future coding aspirations: I would want to learn more about math and machine learning, and perhaps game development.


2nd Place: Demetrios and William
Team Better Program Pending

Ages: 14-15
Japan

Photo of Demetrios, a member of Better Program Pending
Meet Demetrios, a member of Better Program Pending

Hobbies: I like to play video games and read.

How did you start coding? I started coding using Scratch 4 years ago.

What have you learned? I have learned a lot from coding as it was an experience to do new things in programming I haven’t done before, and I got to meet many other programmers from around the world. 

Future coding aspirations: Right now, I am working with my friend and former teammate, William, on a discord bot based on our chatbot.

Photo of William, another member of Better Program Pending
Meet William, another member of Better Program Pending

Hobbies: I like to program and play video games. My hobbies include hiking, building models and playing piano and trumpet.

How did you start coding? I started coding when I was 10, when I discovered Scratch, and really enjoyed it. I went to every Scratch club at my school. When I was 12, I started learning my first programming language Javascript.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I was informed by my Coding Lab teacher, and I was very excited to sign up and quickly asked my friend Demetrios if he could too.

What have you learned? I have learned how to better organise my code, and why it is very important to leave comments!

Future coding aspirations: Currently I am working on a bot for the popular platform Discord, which will join any server and manage it, as well as play music and some other cool functions. In the future, I would like to work as a developer for a game company such as Infinity Ward or work for the government on cybersecurity. 


3rd Place: Sriharsha Sikhakollu
(Individual)

Age: 15
Singapore

Meet Sriharsha, the tenth-grader from Singapore American School
Meet Sriharsha, the tenth-grader from Singapore American School

Hobbies:  I love to play soccer, invest in the stock market, code, and also play video games.

How did you start coding? I actually started to code when I was in 6th grade when my father signed me up for a summer coding program. Of course, it wasn’t a Java or Python course but it was the basics – Scratch. I was quite fascinated with how fun coding is and how simple it can be. Since then, I got started on my coding journey. I slowly progressed from Drag and Drop Programming to more advanced such as Python and some Java.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I was looking for something to do during quarantine as I was extremely bored. That was when coding came into my mind as I was doing some basic coding here and there in my free time. I remembered that I signed up for a class with Coding Lab a few months ago and just looked at their website for any upcoming programs and luckily there was a virtual hackathon happening.  I immediately signed up for it.

I saw the hackathon as a medium to improve my coding knowledge while also creating an application that will help the general public during the global pandemic.

What have you learned? From my YCGH journey, I would say the most important thing that I learned is, of course, more Python but also time management skills. During the phase where we code our own project and the final phase of the hackathon, I wish that I had managed my time over the weekends more efficiently so that I could have finished the project earlier. I was also quite amazed by other coders as all of them had brilliant ideas. Opportunities like the YCGH will allow coders like me to use coding to the best we can.

Future coding aspirations: Something I am interested in is entrepreneurship as well, so if I could do something which involves coding and entrepreneurship, it would be great.


Merit (Most Innovative): Ali Cevat ERÇAL
(Individual)

Age: 18
Turkey

Meet Ali, the 18-year-old inspired to code by LEGO pieces
Meet Ali, the 18-year-old inspired to code by LEGO pieces

Hobbies: I like playing video games and basketball. In my free time, I usually play computer games but sometimes I read books.

How did you start coding? I started coding when I was 14. It was a LEGO Mindstorms kit. I built a line following a robot by using LEGO pieces.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? My dad found Coding Lab when he was surfing the internet, finding coding courses for me.

What have you learned? In meetups, I gained some friends and learned how to work under a time limit. I also expanded my Python knowledge.

Future coding aspirations: In future, I want to scale up my Hackathon project. I want to AI engineer in the future too.


Merit (Most Promising Young Coder): Kieran Ho
(Individual)

Age: 12
Singapore

Photo of Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder
Meet Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder

Hobbies: My hobbies are coding but sometimes I like to read books. In my free time, I usually read books that I like but sometimes I code.

How did you start coding? I started coding using Scratch when I realised that my friend was coding using that language. Out of curiosity, I decided to try it out too. My friend introduced me to the language, after which I decided to find books about it. In one of the books, there was also a tutorial on Python. I tried it out and found that it was fun – and that was how I started coding in Python. I was Primary 1 at the time, I think. (Been coding for 5 years now!)

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I decided to join the Hackathon after I found out about it through one of my coaches during a Python tuition session. I thought it would be a fun experience for me to try out – but little did I know that I would get this far.

What have you learned? All in all, this Hackathon has been a fruitful experience, albeit with many pitfalls and traps. The many sessions I have had helped me to steer clear of these traps and eventually become better, not only at my code organisation but also helped me improve my ability to solve problems using code. I have learnt more about the value of learning from one another, and as Coach Yong Ning stated: it is not the end result that matters, but the journey. I have met many experienced friends and coaches that have taught me many things, and I will be ever grateful to them for inspiring me.

Future coding aspirations: I am currently working on a program which solves the Travelling Salesman Problem using the Nearest Neighbour algorithm for fun, but I plan to try out other algorithms and time them. In the near future, I hope to make more coronavirus-related programs to help others and eventually perfect my Travelling Salesman Problem program.

In the future, I hope to pursue a coding-related occupation. I hope to learn more languages to expand my abilities more. I also hope to learn more about neural networks with Tensorflow and adapt it into a program in Python, or maybe even train one!


This concludes our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020. We would like to thank our participants from all over the world, and it’s been a joy getting together and collaborating with Coding Lab Japan. See you next year!

Read about the Junior Category’s Top 7 by clicking here.