As 2020 comes to an end, we bring you 5 tech-activities for everyone to enjoy and celebrate the holiday season – be it in the comfort of your home or out with your family and friends. Join us as we present to you the coolest tech goodies and events we have searched high and low across the web, just for you.

Christmas on a Great Street

One of the first things that come to mind this season would be the dazzling light displays at Orchard Road. The Great Street goes VIRTUAL this year, with an amazing 360-degree view from a car through the entire 3.6km stretch – complete with Christmas music in the background. The best part? Everyone in the family can enjoy it and you can view it from anywhere in the world!

Details:
From now till 1 January 2021
Online
Price: Free
To find out more, click here.


SFF x SWITCH 2020

For parents interested in FinTech and Innovation, this one’s for you. SWITCH stands for Singapore’s Week of Innovation and TeCHnology, and one ticket will give you virtual access to both SWITCH and Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF). Over 5 days, get access to workshops, exhibitions, masterclasses and speakers from industry leaders all over the world (eg. Hyundai, Spotify, Facebook, Google, and more). It’s the world’s largest digital showcase of FinTech and deep tech offerings.

Details:
7 December – 11 December 2020
Online
Price: From $75 (Access to SWITCH and SFF)
To find out more, click here.


Christmas Wonderland

Gardens By The Bay is back with the seventh rendition of Christmas Wonderland – this time, ONLINE! The Virtual Wonderland is packed with interactive content, performances, giveaways, shopping and games, which is perfect for a great time with the family! Aside from the usual Christmas Wonderland fare, there are also giveaways, contests, Limited Edition plush bears, a video call with Santa, and more. But Mac users be warned, the Virtual Wonderland is only available as a Windows desktop app (for now).

Details:
From now till 31 December 2020
Online
Price: From $8
To find out more, click here.


Trick Eye Museum’s XR Museum App

Singapore’s Trick Eye Museum expands beyond ordinary 3D art and now incorporates graphics and Augmented Reality (AR) with the power of smartphones. Dive deeper into the stories behind each Trick Eye artwork as they come to life through the XR Museum app. Fight sea monsters, go on adventures, and more!

Details:
Waterfront@Resorts World Sentosa
(Tip: Reserve timeslots in advance and purchase tickets online for 20% OFF)
Price: From $17
To find out more, click here.


Christmas Coding Workshops

This Christmas Eve, experience the joy of Scratch and Python from the comfort of your home! Children and teens aged 7 to 18 can create a Christmas pong game or code a snowflake in our 2-hour coding workshops. To sign up, click here.
P.S. Parents are welcomed to join in the coding cheer and fun!

Details:
24 December 2020
Online
Price: $35 (+$2.45 GST)
To find out more, click here.


Here’s a bonus. Looking to stay home instead? The Science Centre Singapore has curated fun, hands-on activities that would expose Primary, Secondary and the General Public to the syllabus covered in school. Ready, Steady, Science! Download the resources on their website here.

The Coding Lab team wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out our November #TechtivitiesOfTheMonth, which includes opportunities to meet our cute furry friends and to make a positive impact on the environment around us – all with technology!


Hop on board the Coding Lab train! Click here to get our monthly newsletters straight to your inbox.

Signing up for various post-exams activities is a wonderful way to look forward to an enriching school holiday season after the exam season is done and dusted! With the holiday season starting, it is time to discover new ways to have fun with technology. Regardless of whether it’s with family or friends, the tech-activities for this month serve as a great way for us to kick back and relax!

Recycle N Save

A new initiative by the National Environment Agency and F&N, Singaporeans can now come together to adopt an eco-conscious lifestyle by disposing of their used plastic bottles and aluminium cans. For your consistent recycling efforts at the many Reverse Vending Machines across Singapore, you stand to receive several rewards such as NTUC coupons!

This reminds us of the Smart Bin that Vayun, our Silver Medallist (NOI 2020), invented when he was just 13 years old! Think about what goes into the making of such inventions and the lines of codes…

Read: Congratulations to our 8 Olympiad Medallists!

Details:
Multiple locations across Singapore
Price: Free
To find out more, click here.


Hello From The Wild Side

Go on a Zoom date with animals! As we are shifting to a new normal, Singaporeans have found new ways to bring our favourite destinations to us right in the comfort of our homes. The Singapore Zoo is now bringing their beloved animal ambassadors to virtual visitors from Singapore and beyond by giving them a chance to see them in their habitats, go behind-the-scenes, and chat with their keepers.

There are different ways to engage with the furry friends including personalised messages, backstage passes and interactive group sessions!

Details:
Mondays, Thursdays to Sundays
Online
Price: From $50
To find out more or book a slot, click here.


Year-End Holiday Coding Camps

Why not pick up a new skill or continue where you left off this holiday? There are many workshops and camps to attend that help inculcate useful skills in students while being immersed in a fun environment. We have several camps for students to enjoy coding, a useful skillset, to equip themselves as part of a technologically-savvy generation in a globalised world!

Details:
23 November to 30 December 2020
Parkway Parade, Bukit Timah (KAP Mall), Ang Mo Kio (The Grassroots’ Club), Online
Price: From $37.45
To find out more, click here.


Psst! Students who sign up together with their friends can get 12% OFF when you use our promo code SUPERCODER to purchase 2 or more classes!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out our October #TechtivitiesOfTheMonth, which includes digital art, virtual runs and more!


Hop on board the Coding Lab train! Click here to get our monthly newsletters straight to your inbox.

Stressed about your upcoming O Level Computing papers? We’re right by your side in this final lap with analysis of past year papers, tips and guidance (and interactive questions to test your knowledge) straight from our Lead Educator Mona Tan, who conducts our O Level tuition programme.

Mona teaching Python
Our Lead Educator Mona imparting her knowledge to her student

As a subject that just began with 2017’s Secondary Three cohort, we know that there aren’t that many resources or information out there for you to tackle your Computing papers. Our team has therefore scoured the net (and much more – so you won’t have to) to compile this list of essential information to aid you in your Computing paper. With multiple subjects and other exams to manage, here’s how you can make the most of your time and be ready for the Computing exam on 2 November 2020! 

1. Know your papers!

As the old adage goes, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought”. Do you know how the examination will happen and its detailed breakdown? Here’s your first question in our interactive quiz to test your knowledge!


There are ___ papers with a total duration of ___ hours.




Click the button below for the answer. The answer is B.
There are two papers in the GCE O Level Computing examination.
Paper One is 2 hours, while Paper Two is 2 hours 30 minutes.




Knowing what material is covered in the syllabus and the format of the different papers is crucial. For example, Paper 1 is a written exam while Paper 2 is a practical exam taken with the use of a computer, spreadsheet and programming software.

Here’s what else you need to know about your papers – expand the buttons below to view more – you don’t want to miss out on the information we have below!

Click Here for Overall Breakdown of Papers

Based on the format of the papers, different sections of content with higher weightage can be prioritised during revision. Moreover, knowing the different components of each paper helps to aid in time management during the examinations, giving you more time to check through your answers.


What exactly are your papers testing you for?




Click the button below for the answer. The answer is A, C and D.
The explanation is found below.




Overall, your knowledge and understanding are the most crucial components (40% overall), while the other two hold equal weightage (30% each) when it comes to the assessment objectives.

You can read the detailed breakdown of the assessment objectives from SEAB by clicking here (page 4).

Paper 1 Analysis

We’ve broken down the O Level papers from 2018 and 2019 to give you the detailed categories involved in Paper 1. In the table below, we’ve also arranged the categories in descending order based on its proportion of the paper. 

2018 vs 2019 Papers Breakdown by Category
2018 vs 2019 Paper 1s Breakdown by Category

Even though memory work takes up around 30% of Paper 1, it is essential that you understand what you’ve memorised so that you can put it into practice in the other components of your paper – remember, the huge chunk of more than 70% involves understanding and application of your knowledge! Ensure that you have a complete understanding of all your modules so that you are able to tackle ALL questions efficiently and maximise your score! 

Note: As there have only been two O Level papers, we do not encourage predicting the percentages of the next O Level papers. It’s essential that you fully understand what has been taught to be able to apply it throughout your papers!

Paper 2 Analysis

There are four tasks in Paper 2, which tested for the same things the past two years. Here’s the breakdown in the pie chart below.

Breakdown of Paper 2 - Pie Chart

While having knowledge and understanding are essential, the key thing is knowing how to apply it in Paper 2 when it comes to the development, testing and refinement. 

Did you know? One mark in Paper 1 is worth more than one mark in Paper 2.

We compare the equivalence of one mark in the different papers across various subjects. The breakdown in the table below is useful for Computing and your Math subjects too! 

O Level Computing Marks Comparison Table
O Level Computing Marks Comparison Table

One mark in Paper 1 is worth 0.875% while one mark in Paper 2 is 0.6%. These marks weigh more than that of A Math papers. Your Paper 1 marks are more valuable – losing between 5 and 6 marks could cause a grade difference – but Paper 2 marks are also as valuable – losing 8 to 9 marks could result in that grade difference too. 

Note: O Level papers are currently graded on a bell curve, so while grading in school has a 5-mark difference, this is not the case when it comes to O Level papers. Every mark is essential in scoring that A1!

The Rules of Flowcharting

Revise the rules involved when constructing the program flowcharts! 


What are the four common symbols in flowcharting?




Click the button below for the answer. The answer is all of the above.



What are the other rules of constructing flowcharts? Read more here (on pages 32 and 33).

2. Revise and practice consistently

“Start early by breaking down content into manageable chunks,” Mona advises. “It is important to remember and assess your understanding of all the important concepts required for the paper.”

She also suggests getting familiar with the formula sheet attached in your O Level paper. You can find it here (pages 30 and 31).

With a formula sheet provided, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to remember what’s on it at all. Here’s the thing: you should know that formula sheet like the back of your hand – save precious exam time to ponder over questions instead. Leave the referring for emergency mind blocks! (Psst, this is the same for Mathematics.)

How do you remember your formula sheet?

There’s this thing called Retrieval Practice, which involves remembering information repeatedly – which results in it coming to mind more quickly in the future [1].

You can better remember it with these suggestions [1, 2]: 


    Space out your retrieval practice throughout your study sessions.
    Self-test and retest yourself repeatedly in the days or months leading up to your exam.
    Actively engage with your material, such as by making notes or doing questions that require applying what you’ve memorised.

Tracking Your Progress

Creating a detailed checklist with all the topics and sub-topics covered would help create a systematic method to track your progress during the last lap. You can even personalise your checklist, perhaps by breaking down the sub-modules, chapters and/or learning outcomes*.

*Note: certain learning outcomes in Module 2 are exempted in 2020’s O Levels

Don’t forget to place extra emphasis on Modules 1 and 4, since these are specifically assessed in Paper 2.

Keep track of your revision and practice sessions with our free A4 timetable that you can download here. Blocks of time can be made to ensure good exposure to both practical and theoretical concepts. You can also record the level of your understanding before and after studying each topic to track your progress.


Modules covered so far and Level of Understanding:
    Module 1. Data and Information
    Module 2. Systems and Communications*
    Module 3. Abstraction and Algorithms
    Module 4. Programming

We all know that practice makes perfect! However, practice questions are scarce when it comes to the O Level Computing papers. As this year is the third year of the O Level papers, the best option would be to request and rely on the resources from your teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed! And practice, practice, practice… and more practice.

3. Analysing Questions

While understanding the content is important, knowing how to apply it is equally as – if not more – essential. Here at Coding Lab, we create the questions for our O Level Computing Tuition classes, drawing on the O Level paper questions and our extensive experience in Computing education. We also put together revision papers for Secondary 4 students to have mock papers under exam-like conditions.

Paper 1 is more theoretical and ‘easier to score’ in the sense that memorisation can ‘give’ you some marks, but Paper 2 is more of demonstrating your knowledge and honing your time management by practising under time constraints. Do you know how to effectively break questions down into more digestible and easy-to-tackle questions? 

Here’s how we would break down the thought process for this pseudocode question from 2018’s O Level Paper 1.


Question: A check digit for an 8-digit number is calculated by:

  • multiplying each digit by 3 or 1 alternately as shown in the following table
  • adding together the result of each multiplication
  • dividing the total by 10 which gives a remainder
  • subtracting the remainder from 10 to give the check digit, unless the remainder is 0.

If the remainder is zero (0), the check digit is 0.

The calculation of the check digit for the number 19483725 is:

Sample Question table

Write an algorithm, using pseudo-code or a flowchart, to generate a check digit using the method given in the question.


We begin with defining the problem and identifying different parts of our program to write the pseudocode. 
Input: 8-digit number
Output: Check digit
Process: Multiply each digit in the input, alternating between 3 and 1. 

Sum up the results of multiplication. Divide the total sum by 10 and find the remainder.
Check if remainder is 0. If yes, output 0.
Else to find the check digit, take the result of 10 – remainder

Step 1

We know the number has 8 digits. In this case, we will write a loop to ask the user for the 8 numbers separately and then store the digits into a list.

Sample code:
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    OUTPUT "Enter the next digit"
    INPUT Numbers[Count]
NEXT Count
Step 2

We need to multiply each digit in the input, alternating between 3 and 1. We can do this by using % to check if the list index is odd or even. We will use a variable named total to store our result.

Sample code:
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    IF Count % 2 == 0:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count] * 3
    ELSE:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count]
    ENDIF
NEXT Count
Step 3

We now divide the total sum by 10 and find the remainder. Once again, we can use %.

Sample code:
Remainder = Total % 10
Step 4

Check if remainder is 0. If yes, output 0.
Else to find the check digit, take the result of 10 – remainder

Sample code:
IF Remainder == 0:
    OUTPUT 0
ELSE:
    OUTPUT 10 - Remainder
Full sample code
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    OUTPUT "Enter the next digit"
    INPUT Numbers[Count]
NEXT Count
Total = 0
FOR Count = 0 to 7
    IF Count % 2 == 0:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count] * 3
    ELSE:
        Total = Total + Numbers[Count]
    ENDIF
NEXT Count
Remainder = Total % 10
IF Remainder == 0:
    OUTPUT 0
ELSE:
    OUTPUT 10 - Remainder  

That sums up our walkthrough of a sample O Level question. Pseudocode questions make up the majority of Paper 1, so understanding the steps to solve such questions is a key ingredient for that A1!

Bonus: Create a cheatsheet

It is undeniable that the Computing papers involve memory work. Hence, a common difficulty students face is remembering the fundamental blocks for the exam, such as logic gates, functions and formulae. Questions tend to ask a range of things, from identifying components and explaining what it does to the pros and cons.

The solution? Create a cheat sheet with all the functions and relevant information to create a personalised resource where the most important information is available at a glance. We get our Computing students to consolidate their learning via cheatsheets and instil the information through practising practical problems, which – as mentioned above – builds memory for programming in the process.

Your cheatsheet could be a black and white A4 one-page or you could use coloured pens and highlighters to facilitate your memory – it all depends on your preference and learning style!


It is normal to feel stressed and confused after practising various exercises. Although it is important to continuously practise, it is just as important to play hard as well.

“Sometimes when my codes don’t work, I would just do other things,” Mona laughs. “The solution will suddenly come to me out of nowhere, then I’ll go back and continue my codes.”

We would also suggest taking breaks throughout study sessions and not to forget having some time off, especially during this stressful period. Overall, it is important to achieve a balance between studying and taking breaks, while preparing for the examinations. This is especially so during these unprecedented times of the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

From all of us here at Coding Lab, we would like to wish everyone all the best for their upcoming examinations! 🙂

Taking the ‘O’ level Computing Paper this November 2020? Join our Bootcamps, where we share essential tips and tricks in achieving that A1 or get your burning questions answered by booking a semi-personalised consultation with us (Limited Slots available).

Click here to find out more about our O Level Computing tuition programme.


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Now that the safe distancing rules are easing, we’ve got even more fun tech-activities coming your way! With the school holidays almost around the corner, this month is sure to be a blast.

Gallery Kids by National Art Gallery

The National Art Gallery has activities and workshops lined up till the end of the year, so you and your families can indulge in a variety of exhibits online. With videos inspired by paintings and other storytelling sessions, check out their website for new online activities lined up every week!

Details:
Until the end of 2020
Online
Price: Free
To find out more, click here.


Virtual Runs

The POSB PAssion Virtual Run for Kids 2020 is a special event run completely online (pun intended!), all for a good cause! It’s their first-ever virtual run, which you can do alongside your loved ones at any time and anywhere – no matter the pace – and you get to personalise your own routes too. Sign-ups close on 18 October, so grab your spot before the actual event in November!

Details:
Registration closes on 18 October 2020
(Race period is from 1 to 30 November 2020)
Online – any time, anywhere
Price: From $5
To find out more, click here.

For those looking to do something this Halloween season, there’s the Halloween Virtual Run to complete within 3 days. It’s virtually done with your GPS tracking app or indoor treadmill, and also includes a spooky finisher medal upon completion!

Details:
Registration closes on 29 October 2020 (while stocks last!)
Race Period: 30 Oct 2020 – 01 Nov 2020
Price: From $9.99
To find out more, click here.


Children’s Day Coding Workshops

Children’s Day 2020 is right around the corner and we’ve got some exciting two-hour workshops to keep your kiddos entertained! Let their creative juices flow as they explore the world of coding and experience the wonders of Scratch and Python.

Children's Day Coding Workshops 2020

Details:
9 October 2020
Parkway Parade, Bukit Timah (KAP Mall) and Online
Price: From $35
To find out more for ages 4 to 6, click here.
To find out more for ages 7 to 12, click here.


We also have October coding camps for your children to attend after PSLE or for the International school holidays to pick up a new, useful skill. Psst, get their classmates to sign up too – you can get 12% OFF when you use our promo code SUPERCODER to purchase 2 or more classes!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out our previous September #TechtivitiesOfTheMonth, which includes hackathons, Tech Career Days, online board games, and more…


School examinations – an inevitable part of students’ lives. As yearly occurrences, these events see our kids and teens burying their heads in books and looking forward to their year-end activities.

We know that examinations play a major role in at least more than a decade of our students’ lives, and the Coding Lab Team stands with you in walking this journey hand in hand with them. We’ve collated some quick tips on how you can support your child’s physical and mental health to help them achieve their best. 🙂

1. Time Management Skills

Our mighty students showing their strength!
Our mighty students showing their strength!

As the examinations draw closer, it is tempting for many students to pull all-nighters in order to get in that extra bit of info. However at this stage, it is more important than ever for children to prioritise their sleep. We all know that it is recommended for them to get around 8 hours of sleep every night to make sure that they have enough energy for the next day [1]. But how do we go about it?

First Step: Teaching them how to organise their tasks with to-do lists and schedules. In picking up this very useful lifelong skill, they are gaining invaluable knowledge on time allocation and divide-and-conquer strategies, resulting in being more productive on a daily basis while still having leftover time to relax.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

– Maimonides

A glimpse of our printable weekly planner

Get started by downloading our Coding Lab A4 printable weekly planners (Yes, it’s FREE!) or click here for some beautiful templates we found online.

2. Watch Quick Bites Online

Image of Python Perfect class
A hybrid class in action (Online and Physical) – with students revising their work

Our students do need their rest, but we know that they’d like to squeeze in as much knowledge as they can each day. The solution – fitting in alternative forms of revision during breaks, especially in the midst of long hours of test papers and assessment books.

With the help of technology, learning and revision have never been easier! There are plenty of YouTube channels and websites that provide bite-sized tips online, regardless of the examinations you are studying for. Informative and colourful graphics allow students to recall concepts better as well. Fit one (or two!) videos in with your eyes closed, or during afternoon tea – some of our students’ favourites (hear it from the best) include Kurzgesagt and Khan Academy!

For the younger ones aged 4 to 12, Read: Top 10 shows/cartoons to teach children about STEM

Read: Tech Podcasts & TED Talks to get you psyched about tech

3. Trying a New Workout Together!

The benefits of exercise are diverse – from feeling more energetic to being productive at school or work [2]. Exercise helps release endorphins, chemicals in the brain that help alleviate stress accumulated throughout the day. Despite the COVID-19 situation, there are new home-based workouts available for the family by Get Active TV.

These workouts not only serve as a useful break away from the books but also help you bond with your child (or teen) throughout the session! (Bonus tip: You can even fit point 2 into this!)

4. Don’t Forget the Essential Eye Breaks

Our Young Computer Scientists taking an eye break on the bean bags
Our Young Computer Scientists taking an eye break on the bean bags at our Parkway Parade Campus

In the midst of all that studying, it is important for our children to remember to relax their eyes and hydrate regularly. This applies to you too! Here are some quick tips to help them, even when you’re away at work [3]:

  • Set reminders or alarms to take a break from near-work activities every 30-40 minutes and look at the trees outside for 5 minutes
  • An alternative eye break is to simply close your eyes to rest for a while
  • Sunlight has been shown to prevent or delay myopia, so spend at least 2 hours a day outdoors

We all play an important role in teaching our children to take better care of themselves throughout the year. Sometimes, even the smallest ways that we show our care towards them can mean a lot to them. Given the current pandemic, it is even more important to ensure that your children are well-prepared mentally and physically with the exams [4] around the corner!

The Coding Lab team would like to wish everyone taking their exams all the best! You’ve got this 🙂