We’re having an online two-hour Easter parent-child workshop, where you and your child can program a bunny to go on an Easter Egg Hunt together for just $10. Decorate Easter eggs and hold your child’s hands as you kickstart their coding journey!
Begin your online learning with Coding Lab! Not sure if it’s for your child? Our two-hour $10 trials (U.P. $55) will let them have a shot at programming simple games and animations with Scratch or pick up Python, one of the most popular programming languages. Feel free to contact our HBL concierge team that is always on-hand to help with any queries – we strive to make the transition to online learning as seamless as possible, especially in this digital era.
With news that we have to suspend our physical classes, our usual weekly classes for the age groups of 7-9, 10-12 and 13-18 will still continue from home. We aim to make this transition as seamless as possible for you and your children, so here are 5 Tips from the Coding Lab team on how our HBL coding classes can be maximised:
It’s simple to sign up for a HBL class with us. If in doubt, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to assist you. We’ll even send an E-Learning package your way – and a complimentary introduction to ease the transition to online, home-based learning. After all, it’s our goal to nurture future leaders of technology!
Get to know one of Coding Lab’s youngest but most accomplished educators.
Hi Guangxuan, how did you get started on coding?
My journey began in the primary school robotics lab, where I tinkered with drag-and-drop “programming”. I took on the job of lead programmer, creating combinations of basic operations to accomplish missions. The joy of discovering new functions and alternative methods of programming the robot helped us to clinch top prize in programming at the National Junior Robotics Competition. Little did I know that these experiences would form my passion for artificial intelligence.
Fast forward to high school, I kept pursuing my passion by attending programming electives. These courses expanded my arsenal of programming languages, which included Python, C++ and Java, forming the foundations of computation. Learning about Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taught me much about what I truly enjoy. I am fascinated by the endless potential of AI in problem-solving and I enjoy discovering novel ideas used in AI to model problems. I will continue discovering more about AI, for as long as my passion takes me, and I hope that I can contribute to AI in the future for the good of mankind!
“In my opinion, everyone who wants to code should at least try their hand at competitive coding.”
How did you start to teach coding?
In 2015, I joined my NOI teammate in teaching the December NOI training course. Initially, I was concerned by my teaching capabilities as I have never been a trainer. However, the trainer community was welcoming and I picked up teaching skills along the way. I learnt to explain concepts in an easily digestible way to newcomers, challenge assumptions and to teach from first principles.
Tell us about how a typical coding class would look like. If I walked into your classroom during a lesson, what would I see and hear?
Students discuss while solving problems on the interactive whiteboards located in each classroom. Students collaborate while solving problems, sometimes even helping each other debug.
In your opinion, what is the most important takeaway for kids from coding class?
Students learn Computational Thinking while solving problems. Computational Thinking can generalise and transfer the problem-solving process to a wide variety of situations, such as confidence in dealing with complexity, persistence in working with difficult problems, the potential to deal with open-ended problems, and the ability to communicate and work with others to achieve a common goal or solution.
“Build a strong foundation, and you shall be able to conquer the Olympiad.”
What are you up to these days?
In my free time, I enjoy keeping up with developments in technology. After exploring various computational fields such as web development and security, I realised that I enjoyed machine learning the most as it involves both the rigour of Mathematical theory and the creativity of practical application.
Just as AI must train to improve their performance, I must train myself to get better at AI. As such AI courses were not offered in high school, I have enrolled in structured online machine learning courses from Stanford University. The courses constantly challenge my thinking and helps me to gain new perspectives about coding and how to teach it to students. Currently, I’ve been learning about Machine Vision (the ability of a computer to see) by following the Stanford CS231n course.
“I will continue discovering more about AI, for as long as my passion takes me, and I hope that I can contribute to AI in the future for the good of mankind!”
How is competitive programming different?
Competitive programming is a mind sport. A lot of people are engrossed in competitive coding for the sheer thrill of it — the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction of getting your solution accepted. In my opinion, everyone who wants to code should at least try their hand at competitive coding. It has a very large and diverse online community including school and college students and even people working in big tech companies. The skills picked up can be applied directly to technical interviews for big tech companies!
What advice do you have for children/teenagers who want to participate in the NOI?
Build a strong foundation, and you shall be able to conquer the Olympiad. The course is difficult, and you will be challenged. Long-term commitment to the competitive programming sport will lead to great rewards.
Guangxuan is our educator with a passion for AI and teaching future leaders in technology.
Let’s meet the fresh new team powering the second year of Tiny Thinkers.
Chairperson: Candice Wang
“It’s heartening to see the number of hours put in by the core team and their amazing passion and enthusiasm, which rubs off on all of our volunteers.”
As a mother of two and Director of Coding Lab, Candice understands parents and oversees the operations and community engagement sectors. She admits that it is no easy feat to be a part of Tiny Thinkers for the second year running, organising activities and packing kits. But with a new team, she says, “It’s exciting to have many interested young talents who bring their unique interests, personalities and know-how to make things happen. It’s heartening to see the number of hours put in by the core team and their amazing passion and enthusiasm, which rubs off on all of our volunteers.”
With 2020 ahead, she is excited that Tiny Thinkers will be able to impact more than 7,000 young lives across many preschools and libraries in Singapore with the Junior Computational Thinking (CT) kit, which covers all 4 pillars of CT (Abstraction, Algorithm, Decomposition and Pattern Recognition). “This kit has been heavily oversubscribed and we still have a long waitlist of preschools asking for it,” she said. “Our volunteers are working hard to pack kits so it can promptly reach preschools and libraries across Singapore. We are very proud of this kit, developed in conjunction with our partners (IMDA, Skool4kids and Nexus), which infuses Total Defense values into CT and most importantly, encourages parent-child bonding.”
President: Thinzar Htet
“While it is tiring, I enjoy interacting with children during events and workshops which reminds me of why I became a part of Tiny Thinkers in the first place.”
The former intern at Coding Lab initially helped out with Tiny Thinkers activities and was inspired to keep the flame burning after her internship ended. Thinzar recalls her experiences during Tiny Thinkers workshops, where she shared the joy of coding with parents and witnessed children enjoying themselves. “When parents hear the aim of Tiny Thinkers, they inquire and remark that it is an interesting and great thing that we are doing. These instances make me feel proud of what I have done and want to continue, despite the difficulties.”
The second-year Sociology student was always interested in education and working with children, “So I thought that it was fitting to be a part of something meaningful like Tiny Thinkers, which equips children with the valuable skill of Computational Thinking. While it is tiring,” she admits, “I enjoy interacting with children during events and workshops which reminds me of why I became a part of Tiny Thinkers in the first place.”
Head of Talent Acquisition: Shravya Murali
“I want to create a positive difference and to spark joy in the lives of others and myself.”
A firm believer that every child should have access to education – specifically, computational education – regardless of their background, Shravya is on a journey to make her life more meaningful. “I want to create a positive difference and to spark joy in the lives of others and myself,” the second-year Life Sciences student said. This led to her joining the Tiny Thinkers team. “I had chances to converse with parents at the Tiny Thinkers booth during the Smart Nation & U event, and they seemed impressed and appreciated what Tiny Thinkers was doing.”
Just like Thinzar, this motivated Shravya to continue her work with Tiny Thinkers, knowing that it benefits others. She also spent her December holidays as an intern educator with Coding Lab, gaining more experience in teaching children while also interacting with parents. When asked about what she’s anticipating for in 2020, the avid volunteer said: “I am excited for more Tiny Thinkers events to come!”
Head of Training and Development: Jeffrey Tan
“I have been looking out for an avenue to give back through mentoring for a while now, so this came at the right time … I feel that I can make a difference in someone’s life here.”
During one of his volunteer stints, Jeffrey was observed to have been working excellently with kids and was approached by Shravya to be a part of Tiny Thinkers. “I have been looking out for an avenue to give back through mentoring for a while now, so this came at the right time,” the third-year Computational Biology student enthused, citing the aims of Tiny Thinkers as the inspiration for joining. “They are very clear, achievable and most importantly, meaningful. I feel that I can make a difference in someone’s life here. I am able to multiply my value through training volunteers and subsequently gather feedback to improve the materials.”
On Tiny Thinkers activities, Jeffrey mentions that it is heartwarming how parents are also involved. “It’s always nice to witness the parent-child physical connection especially in today’s increasingly digitalised society,” he remarked. “While the background of a family often plays a part in a child’s education, we strive to put everyone on the same starting line as we welcome the digital age.”
Head of Marketing: Lakshmi Suresh
“I believe in devoting myself to a greater purpose, which involves helping others.”
The bubbly second-year Business student was a former intern educator at Coding Lab, where she also helped out with marketing activities. Lakshmi’s interest in entrepreneurship and social service was what led her to be a part of the team. “I believe in devoting myself to a greater purpose, which involves helping others,” she said. “Once I heard about Tiny Thinkers and their vision, I felt immediately drawn to helping the team out by tapping on my personal strengths.”
In managing media channels and disseminating messages, her dedication is further spurred on by the effects of what she does. “I really love it when the publicity successfully attracts people to attend our events and to see parents and children have fun warms my heart,” she gushed. “I hope that Tiny Thinkers can be understood as an organisation that is out to make a difference, and that we can get more volunteers and participants to make our vision a reality!”
Head of Logistics: Senthamaraiselvan Pooja
“Being involved in something as meaningful as Tiny Thinkers has really made my university life more exciting as there are many exciting events going on to help spread computational thinking to young children.”
The second-year Biomedical Engineering student is in charge of ensuring that the materials and kits are delivered to the right place and at the right time. “I wish that I received more exposure to computational thinking at a young age,” Pooja confessed. “But by joining the Tiny Thinkers team, I find great delight in being part of a team that equips today’s children with this skill. This is especially critical now as Singapore is moving towards becoming a Smart Nation, so computational thinking would definitely be highly relevant in many future jobs.”
When asked how she manages to juggle school and studies, Pooja mentioned that just being focused on studying can make life dull. “Being involved in something as meaningful as Tiny Thinkers has really made my university life more exciting as there are many exciting events going on to help spread computational thinking to young children,” she said.
What’s next for Tiny Thinkers?
Conducting sessions for various preschools about the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit
More workshops to empower more kids and achieve the target of 7000 kits to be given out!
About Tiny Thinkers:
A non-profit campaign by Coding Lab that aims to empower and educate parents to kickstart their little one’s journey in Computational Thinking. For more information, please click here. Tiny Thinkers is also featured on IMDA’s website here.
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 ) 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 . 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 . 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. 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 [3, 4].
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! [5, 6]
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 [7, 8].
Bonus: The odds of being born on 29th February, a leap day, is one in 1,461 . 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! [9, 10]
This year is no exception. It’s held in Anthony, on the border of Texas and New Mexico, in the United States of America , 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. [2, 3] 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. [2, 11]
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 . 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. [2, 9]
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 .
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]
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.
From 23 January 2020, Daily* (subject to weather conditions)
7.30pm – 10.30pm
Siloso Beach, Sentosa
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!
From 29 February 2020 – 5 March 2020
Various dates and timings available
From your own home!
At only $10
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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!
Meet Alicia. At 16 years old and with just two years of coding, she came up with the novel idea of a program that would allow drivers to check the availability of public carparks – and breathed life into it in just two hours during her Data Analytics class. We finally got to catch up with our student, who took the time during her ski trip to Italy to respond to our questions.
Hi Alicia! Could you tell us about what your program does?
Alicia: It aims to help drivers check the availability of Singapore’s public carparks – all in real-time. The program allows the user to input the carpark number that they wish to park at. In response, the program will inform users of the number of lots available at the specified carpark. As such, the driver will be able to head to another carpark if that carpark was full, saving time and fuel.
What gave you the idea for the program?
Alicia: I remembered that there were several incidents where my parents encountered difficulties finding a carpark during peak hours and we wasted a lot of time driving around the area searching for an available carpark. It came to my mind that the data analysis program can be useful and convenient for carpark users to check real-time carpark availability beforehand.
What were some considerations you had to factor in when making the program?
Alicia: I considered my limited coding knowledge and decided to create a simple yet useful program. The program’s only function was to check for the carpark availability of the public carparks in Singapore which made it convenient and time-saving for the user. I hope to turn this simple program into an app that I can manage and upgrade in future, with more navigation functionalities.
“Don’t rush yourself to attain results and instead enjoy the process of learning!”
What were some challenges you faced when developing the program?
Alicia: One of the challenges that I faced was processing the carpark availability data from the Singapore Government Data website. I had to manually go through the massive data and extract the carpark number and carpark availability by trial-and-error. Luckily, my Coding Lab mentor, Ms Mona Tan, was very patient and helpful. Whenever I faced problems in running the program, she will give me some pointers to guide me through my thought process.
What advice would you give to young coders who are new to coding?
Alicia: Don’t be too ambitious when you have just started to code! It is important to have a final goal in mind when it comes to a project, however, it’s important to take it step by step to reach your final goal, instead of rushing towards your final aim. As you get more familiar with the programming language and more experienced in coding, you will be able to constantly upgrade your project, reaching your final goal eventually. Don’t rush yourself to attain results and instead enjoy the process of learning!
She has also taken on various projects to simplify sales analysis and performance reports at her uncle’s organisation, and has plans to create an app to showcase his products. She is currently in the Nanyang Science Mentorship Programme with I2R, ASTAR, where she regularly applies the MATLAB and Machine Learning techniques she has garnered.
On 9th November, Tiny Thinkers was invited to celebrate the 15th anniversary of NLB’s kidsREAD programme. Tiny Thinkers had a booth for children to kickstart their Computational Thinking journey with our Junior Computational Thinking kit. The kit, developed by Tiny Thinkers and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), allows children to plan a character’s story and also included hands-on activities for parents to complete with their children at home.
Thank you to President Halimah Yacob, Mr S Iswaran (Minister for Communications and Information), and Ms Low Tze Hui, for stopping by our booth to find out more about Tiny Thinkers and our goals for the children of Singapore!
Tiny Thinkers is proud to have been able to collaborate with NLB to reach out to more parents about the importance of Computational Thinking in today’s digital economy. This is especially relevant as this year’s kidsREAD programme was focused on promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.
Throughout the year, we worked closely with NLB to hold free one-hour workshops titled ‘Tiny Thinkers On The Go’ at Tampines and Jurong Regional Libraries, where our Junior Computational Thinking kits were also distributed. We hope that participants of all our Tiny Thinkers events enjoyed completing the kit activities and that this jumpstarts their interests in computational thinking!
We also want to thank our Amazon Web Services volunteers who helped us to guide the children and spread the word about computational thinking among the event’s participants! We couldn’t have reached out to as many people without their assistance, persistence and love.
Tiny Thinkers will also continue to collaborate with NLB next year, where free Junior Computational Thinking Kits will be given out to 3,500 participants of the kidsREAD programme to equip them with the tools to be digitally-ready.
If you weren’t able to get a kit this year, fret not! We know that as parents, we all want to give our children a headstart in this digital age. Do keep a lookout on our Tiny Thinkers page (or Facebook page) for updates on what we’re doing and on our future events!
2020 definitely looks like an exciting year ahead for our Tiny Thinkers!
About kidsREAD A nationwide reading programme launched in 2004, it encourages positive attitudes towards reading and aims to inculcate good reading habits among young Singaporeans of all races, and especially those from low-income families.