We’ve rounded up the 5 most interesting and engaging (in our opinion, that is!) tech podcasts and TED Talks for you to embark on an auditory tech journey! Calling all our parents, students, and teens – we’ve made sure that there’s something for you to listen to, no matter who you are!

Whether you’re driving your little techie to school in the morning, taking a jog with your pals, or simply relaxing at home in between homework assignments, easily keep up to date with current advancements in science and technology. The best part? Bonding with your child over his favourite activity and maximising the use of your time. Learning has never been easier. ☺️

We’ve shared our favourite episode for each selection (and we hope you’ll like them too!)

Happy listening and stay safe!

1. CodeNewbie

(available on their website, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts) 

Image of CodeNewbie podcast

What it’s about: Stories from people on their coding journey. 

Code Newbie covers a diverse range of guests on their show – from web developers to UX designers, open source developers and many more! With the main target audience being beginners who are new to code, anything that’s very technical is explained simply. The podcast is not so much about how to code, but more about how to be a coder – it’s especially reassuring to newbie coders, with every episode reminding listeners that everyone has had to start at some point before progressing to success. 

Duration: ~30-50 minutes per episode 

Recommended episode: “How do you go from hackathons to building a hurricane relief business?” with Nick Feuer – This episode definitely brought back memories of our Young Coders Global Hackathon (YCGH) that took place earlier this year. It was truly a blast marvelling at all the brilliant ideas that our participants came up with!  

2. Learn to Code with Me

(available on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or here

Image of Learn to Code with Me podcast

What it’s about: The podcast is hosted by Laurence Bradford, a self-taught techie who’s on a mission to help anyone who wants to teach themselves how to code. For each ‘Learn to Code with Me’ episode, she sits down for a chat with different amazing and inspiring individuals in tech. 

With captivating interviews and useful advice given in every episode, you’re sure to learn a lot about how to code as well as the basics of building your very own technology career! 

Duration: For Season 7: ~40-50 minutes per episode

Recommended episode: “Building a Robotics career and the impact of mentorship with Camille Eddy” – Having had internships with big companies like HP, Google and NASA, Camille is grateful to have been able to grow her career with the help of her mentors. We couldn’t agree more! An experienced individual by your side will help you grow to greater heights – just like our dedicated tutors at Coding Lab! 😉

3. Brains On! Science

(episodes available on Spotify or on their website)

Image of Brains On Science podcast

What it’s about: This award-winning science podcast from American Public Media is great for kids and curious adults! With its mission of encouraging kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history, every episode has a different kid co-host who joins in to find answers to the fascinating questions they have about the world. 

With over 100 episodes to listen to, you’re in for hours of endless fun and learning! 

Duration: ~30 minutes per episode 

Recommended episode: “Why does green mean go? And other colour conundrums” – This episode explored the primary colours red, green and blue – and how you can mix them together to get all the colours of light! Our wonderful Young Computer Scientists learn about RGB in their class (BOT: Robotics) too, as well as other fascinating topics like Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)! 

4. TED Talks by brilliant kids and teens

(watch them here)

Image of TED Talks playlist

What it’s about: This awesome playlist features kids and teens under 20 conducting their own TED Talks about science, music and other relevant topics. Be awed by the young and bright speakers as they talk about what they’re most passionate about – you’re certainly never too small to dream big! 

Duration: Ranges from ~5-20 minutes per talk

Recommended episode: “A 12-year-old app developer” – We’re reminded of our very own app inventors and computer scientists who always have a whale of a time in our classes. It’s amazing to see the endless possibilities once you learn how to code! 

5. Tumble Science Podcast

(available on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or here)

Image of Tumble Science podcast

What it’s about: The podcast has episodes exploring a multitude of fascinating topics like volcanic eruptions and the physics of basketball. Now in its 6th season, Tumble strives to foster the love of science into listeners by bringing science to life through interviews with scientists on their process and discoveries. 

Suitable for the entire family to listen to, everyone wins as they learn a thing or two about the wonders of science. 

Duration: ~10-20 minutes per episode 

Recommended episode: “Building a Robotic Eel” – This episode had us all fascinated on Envirobot, a robot that moves through the water like an eel and also has special sensors designed to seek out water pollution! It’s truly amazing to see how tech is put to good use – in this case, tech helps us understand our environment better and assist us in finding solutions to problems!

#CodingLabParenting Series: Towards Better Learning

Has your child started on their coding journey yet? How’s it coming along so far? In this #CodingLabParenting series, our tutors gather their top tips for you (yes you, parents!) on how you can guide your child towards better learning!

We want partner with you to ensure that your child’s learning experiences are the best they can be – especially if it’s coding.

From tips for meaningful learning to motivating, progression of knowledge and skills, and more… we want our students keep calm, code on and most importantly, have fun on their coding journey!

Let our beautiful infographics paint a thousand words.

Get updates and more posts like these when you follow our Facebook and Instagram pages!

Click on any image below to enlarge it.

Who said that learning has to be serious all the time? Get your friends and family tech tinkering this September holidays with these three activities you can get involved in!

Startup Weekend Singapore 2020

Calling all youths! You might just find your next brilliant startup idea here. This was the event that birthed Carousell, the local tech startup giant, back in 2012. This year, it will be held entirely online – so youths from anywhere in the world can join – and this includes you.

Whether you’re a hustler, designer or developer, this safe, inclusive and exploratory space is open to all. Go forth and bring your ideas to life!

Startup Weekend Singapore 2020

25 – 27 September 2020
Online, from anywhere in the world
Price: Early bird tickets at $6.38
(Get a limited edition hack and rave kit worth $150)
To find out more, click here.

Tech@Shopee Career Day

This is for the older ones who are curious about the tech career path. Whether you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate or working professional, Shopee welcomes you to their first-ever virtual tech career fair!

Join the full-day of sharing sessions from the Shopee Tech teams (Engineering, Data Science, Data Analytics, UI/UX Design, and more), get a tour of the office, and ask the leaders and recruiters your burning questions.

Registration closes on 25 September, 12pm (SGT), sign up now by clicking here.

Tech@Shopee Career Day

Saturday, 26 September
9:30am – 5:00pm
Price: Free
To find out more, click here.

Board Game Arena

It’s board games galore! You don’t have to download or fork out anything – simply open your web browser (Chrome, Safari, etc.) and go to their website.

From Backgammon to 7 Wonders and Chess, take your pick from the wide range of games available. While you have fun, think about how board games have been digitalised and what codes have made this possible!

Screenshot of Board Game Arena

Price: Free
To find out more, click here.

GCE ‘O’ Levels Computing Tuition

Break knowledge barriers with our tuition programme, which equips our students with the knowledge to tackle both the theory and practical components of the exam. Our programme enables you to achieve content mastery over both Paper 1 and 2!

Acquire proficiency in using spreadsheets and Python programming under exam-like conditions to ace your exam, achieving your A1. With small class sizes of no more than 4 per class, students are sure to get full attention from our expert educators.

GCE O Level Computing Tuition

Every Tuesday (Sec 4) and Thursday (Sec 3) until 20 and 22 October
Parkway Parade and Bukit Timah (King Albert Park)
To find out more, click here.

As an individual, with your friends or family, get everyone involved in tech with these #TechtivitiesOfTheMonth. Enjoy your September holidays and good luck to all students doing PSLE, O Levels, A Levels and every other examination!

Psst, our October Post-PSLE camps are now open for registrations. Here are some promo codes for you!
Either Buy 2 or more classes and get 12% OFF when you use the promo code SUPERCODER
OR Buy any 1 class and get 10% OFF with the promo code UNITEDWECODE.

We hope everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out things to do post-Circuit Breaker! This includes Jewel Changi Airport, Netflix Singapore shows and other post-CB techtivities here.

Educational approaches around the world are now focusing on STEAM as opposed to the traditional STEM framework. Why is this so? How does STEAM impact our children’s future? And what can you do for your child?

“To prepare our young to seize these opportunities … we have to focus more on applied learning … we have to promote lifelong learning.

– Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

What is STEAM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The initial STEM education pushed for advancements in technology, yet something started to become more apparent. We can have lots of bots, but you can’t code creativity or program imagination. 

It begged the question: What’s the point of having high-tech robots without creative minds that can take ideas further? 

Thus, the integration of Arts into STEM began. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Yakman [1] breaks it down into the STEAM Pyramid (as seen below), which illustrates how imparting content-specific subjects in primary, secondary, tertiary and higher education can lead to holistic, lifelong skills and a great foundation for your child’s aspirations.

The STEAM Pyramid by Yakman (2008)
The STEAM Pyramid by Yakman (2008) breaks down the course of academic content to lifelong learning in STEAM education.

While STEM pushed for using math and science concepts integrated with engineering design to create real-world technologies, the Arts was needed to fill in the gap of essential life skills. This included innovating, creativity, critical thinking, possibility thinking, and much more [2, 3, 4].

Though the term ‘STEAM’ is not widely used in Singapore, it’s clear that the Ministry of Education is also gearing up for STEAM education for our young ones. “This is an investment worth making to nurture innovation and creativity,” the then Minister for Education (Schools), Ng Chee Meng, said. “And importantly, prepare our children for the future.” [5]

STEAM Education for the Future

STEAM was proposed as the perfect harmony of the logical STEM and creative Arts in 2008 [1] as creativity became highly valued in modern education [6]. The blending of subjects enabled children to improve their cognitive and affective skills, while internally motivating them to learn [2]. 

With it came a bonus advantage: teaching the Arts would include hands-on and emotional learning experiences that would interest and internally motivate children in their education [4]. This would engage students in the content and improve their success in STEM subjects as well [3].

Ultimately, the aim of Arts in STEM education is to impart creativity and critical thinking. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this skill is important today. It would also widen their horizons into thinking about the world, empathy, communication and the social sciences [1]. The arts is where things like education, sociology and linguistics fall under, and are also connected to STEM fields.

It’s full STEAM ahead!

Since 2013, Singapore has been integrating STEAM into our education system. Aside from making coding mandatory for students, all primary schools will offer Applied Learning Programmes (ALP) by 2023, which aims to cater to different interests, including STEM, aesthetics, languages, humanities, entrepreneurship and many more [5]. Although not explicitly named STEAM, it is evident that the ALP comprises STEM and Arts (or Aesthetics).

You can view the list of Singapore Secondary Schools that have ALP by clicking here (last updated 20 August 2020).

This provides a new avenue for Direct School Admissions (DSA), with schools like the School of Science and Technology and National Junior College already naming STEAM in their selection criteria. International Schools like the Stamford American School and Canadian International School have also integrated STEAM into their schools. The term STEAM may not be used, but this holistic education is around us.

Speaking about applied learning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “Our challenge now is to continue creating opportunities for our young to fulfil their aspirations in a future which is going to be very different. An economy which is more sophisticated and diversified, where the growth is going to come from productivity improvements and new products and services, not yet dreamt of or invented.” [7]

“To prepare our young to seize these opportunities,” PM Lee continued, “we have to focus more on applied learning … we have to promote lifelong learning.” [7]

What can you do for your child?

To create a comprehensive foundation for your child’s future, it is essential to integrate creativity through the Arts in a way that naturally fits into STEM [3]. This prepares them for life and the future where STEAM comes together for great things and real-world solutions. 

In the 21st century, using IT is an attractive alternative to learn STEAM contents for a digital generation [2], while also promoting computational and technological literacy [8]. Coding is a great example of integrative STEAM learning, which utilises math and science skills while applying creativity to designs to solve problems. For example, our 7 to 9-year olds learn Scratch, a colourful drag-and-drop programming platform that kickstarts their coding journeys. 

A 2 player Scratch game by Nelle, 9 years old, at our Art x Coding Camp
A 2 player Scratch game by Nelle, 9 years old, at our Art x Coding Camp

Aside from learning the basics of coding in an eye-catching interface, it also imparts many other skills. From brainstorming for their projects to bringing it to fruition, the process includes problem-solving codes, drawing and designing their own games and characters, and self-confidence as they strengthen their abilities. 

One does not have to aspire to be a computer scientist to learn to code.

– Foo Yong Ning, founder of Coding Lab

When parents are involved in the coding process, there are other potential and powerful learning experiences of coding such as providing avenues for bonding and interacting through a shared experience. Coding also calls for active participation and inquiry-based learning [8]. Coupled with hands-on experiences when learning software and programming hardware (such as sensors and microcontrollers), applying what they have learned would also foster understanding and encourage deeper learning of STEAM [3]. 

Find out: Our hands-on classes for 7 to 9-year-olds, 10 to 12-year-olds and 13 to 18-year-olds.

“One does not have to aspire to be a computer scientist to learn to code,” says Foo Yong Ning, the founder of Coding Lab. “Coding provides our students with rich STEAM learning experiences and the space to embark on their own coding projects.

This enables students to take ownership of their own personal projects, learning responsibility and feeling a sense of connection with something that they have invested time and effort in.

Along the way, problems and possibly even failure are bound to be part of the coding journey, but it is these experiences that teach valuable lessons to everyone, and the eventual feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment make the journey feel worth it.”

Ultimately, the feelings of success and personal fulfilment are important to spur our children on to get engaged in STEAM learning and education to build a solid foundation for their future. By learning to code, these experiences nurture future leaders in technology and fully-literate 21st-century citizens.

Kickstart your child’s STEAM-integrated coding journey by clicking here!

In this exclusive interview with the founders of Coding Lab, Yong Ning Foo and Candice Wang share some insights on how Coding Lab coped with the Covid-19 pandemic and some words of encouragement for the Coding Lab community! 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Coding Lab had to go through several changes, one of it being the transition to 100% online classes throughout the circuit breaker. The strong online learning system that we have built and tested (since 2019) enabled us to continue having fun and enjoyable classes for our students. 

Let’s hear from our dear founders as they shed light on how they managed Coding Lab during these extraordinary times. May we never be deterred from the challenges that lie ahead and keep on persevering to face them head-on! 

Image of Candice

Here’s what Candice had to say!

1. Hi Candice, how has Covid-19 changed things for you? Was it for the better, or for the worse?

Covid-19 is unprecedented and like the rest of the world, we had to adapt to it quickly.

Personally, I appreciate the time I got to spend with my family as well as managing the shift from offline to 100% online classes not only at Coding Lab, but also for my kids’ enrichment lessons. My 7-year-old attended our own online Coding Classes during this period, and was able to figure out how to use the different functions of Zoom. To my surprise, not only could she do that, but she was also able to confidently navigate her school’s Home-Based Learning exercises entirely on her own even though there were close to 8 different portals.

If anything, we shouldn’t underestimate kids.

They are more capable than we think they are. This is evident in the joy my daughter derived from changing her user ID or private messaging her teachers on Zoom and arranging online meet-ups with her friends. It is a lifelong skill that she can now take with her.

2. Everyone has had to work from home due to the circuit breaker. What has been done to maintain a strong company culture?

Communication via video-conferencing was fun and smooth – even across countries – so much so that we even organised our first 100% online Young Coders Global Hackathon together with Coding Lab Japan.

The Coding Lab team were all involved in this one way or another. If you look at the event credits, you will realise that not only the Educators, but also the Marketing, Admin and Enrolment teams all came together to make it happen. The teamwork was truly amazing!

We also organised a couple of group workout sessions so that everybody could stretch their legs and keep fit at home. We even recorded a song and dance together! Sure… we missed our regular lunches and snack time, and birthday celebrations had to be done via Zoom and home deliveries, but hey! It was the new norm and we embraced it wholeheartedly.

The most important thing was that everybody was safe.

3. What is your most valuable takeaway from this experience?

“When life throws you curveballs, we will emerge stronger and be thankful for the small things in life.”

Having the team stay healthy and protected at home while adapting our processes to ensure the safety of everyone involved was critical, and taught us a lot about adapting quickly.

We also found our own special ways to continually engage our students; whether it was via regular WhatsApp chats to follow-up with them or a competition where they could express their ideas on solving Covid-19 related issues, we stayed connected.

Image of Yong Ning

Here’s what Yong Ning shared with us!

1. Hi Yong Ning, how did you handle the challenges faced due to the Covid-19 restrictions?

We have been planning for this for quite some time, since January this year. It also helped that we had run online workshops for the region before, so the process was relatively smooth. 

2. What were the measures that Coding Lab had to take due to Covid-19?

The evolution of our processes started with Hybrid classes where we had a mixture of physical and online students (before circuit breaker), followed by 100% online (during circuit breaker), and now, a mixture again in Phase 2. 

Prior to that, we had invested in video-conferencing platforms, online practising systems, digital writing pads and other tools to make live teaching fun and easier for both our tutors and students.

“We spared no effort to build a strong and solid support system that provided our students with the avenue to give their feedback or review course material as often as they wanted.”

3. What are some of the significant changes that will be done to come back from this better and stronger?

Our online learning system was put to the test when we conducted thousands-strong seminars for the region for the Shopee Code League as well as various workshops with Smart Nation Singapore

We also understand that many parents and students enjoyed the classes very much and have requested for their child to continue their lessons online. We are excited and happy to announce that we will be launching Coding Lab Online (Permanent) classes*.

*for selected modules only

4. What is your most valuable takeaway from this experience?

“Be prepared, plan ahead, and have a strong team to support and execute decisions quickly. “

All of these are critical in ensuring that the experience of our students remains consistent and of a high standard. 

5. Do share with us a few words of advice/final message for the Coding Lab community!

Thank you for your support throughout this period. It means a lot to all of us. We hope you will enjoy using the materials and systems we have built and we look forward to welcoming you back, be it online or physically. Thank you!

Fun Techtivities for Post-Circuit Breaker

This time, we bring to you a mix of online and physical activities for post-Circuit Breaker. Just make sure your groups are a maximum of five people and don’t forget your mask!

Jewel Changi Airport attractions

Singapore’s sparkling Jewel Changi Airport is giving 55% off Canopy Park attractions tickets in the month of August. Celebrate National Day with this offer that only lasts for the month of August!

Before 10 August, you can get UNLIMITED access to the attractions for THREE MONTHS when you purchase specific bundles.

*Terms & Conditions here.

Photo of Jewel Changi's Canopy Park Attraction

Jewel Changi Airport
Price: From $3.60
To access it, click here.

Singaporean Shows on Netflix Singapore

Missed Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd (1997-2007), The Little Nyonya (2009) or Ah Boys to Men (2012-2013)? You can finally binge these classic Singaporean shows on the streaming platform, Netflix. It even includes films like Ilo Ilo (2013), the first Singaporean feature film to win at the Cannes Film Festival.

As the episode counts down to the next and you get shows recommended to you, have a think about how Netflix made these mechanics possible. Challenge your children to think about algorithms and programming in a new light as trailers autoplay too!

Photo for Netflix Singapore

Price: From $11.98/month or 30-day free trial
To access it, click here.

September Holiday coding camps

Let your child make stories and games from their wildest imaginations after learning drag-and-drop programming platforms Scratch and App Inventor, or the text-based Python. We’ve even infused Physics and Math in our coding classes for our budding computer scientists to make more life-like games and programs like Spin the Wheel and Fidget Spinners!

With the Choice of Online or Physical classes – easily find the best fit for your child’s schedule.

September Holiday Camps 2020

7 – 11 September
Online, Parkway Parade or King Albert Park (Bukit Timah)
For Ages 7-18

To sign up and for more details, click here.

Go forth into the Post-Circuit Breaker world for the long weekends and our nation’s birthday month! Don’t forget to #maskup and together, #SGUnited.

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out free Cirque du Soleil shows, the Musical Time Machine, Top 10 Shows/Cartoons to Teach Children About STEM and other August techtivities here!

Sarah will be starting her first year as a Computer Engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) – which is ranked #18 globally for computer science subjects – on a 4-year scholarship! Read on to find out how she managed to achieve this incredible feat. 

Image of Sarah Go

From our previous interview with Sarah Go in 2018, we got to know about how she clinched the Honourable mention at the National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) within just less than six months of learning how to code! Fuelled by her passion for coding, Sarah spent her winter holidays as a student tutor volunteer at Coding Lab to inspire the next generation of coders.

Q: Hey Sarah, it’s been a while since our last interview with you. Congratulations on getting a scholarship to UT Austin! What were your feelings when you first got to know about the scholarship?

Sarah: I was definitely very happy! Initially, I wasn’t expecting a scholarship because I was applying as an out-of-state student to UT’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) program. 90% of spots are reserved for in-state students, and UT’s ECE program is considered prestigious in the US. So even admission is very competitive – not to mention a scholarship! – and this knowledge makes me feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to my school as well. 

Q: What did you do to ensure that you stood out from the rest of the other applicants?

Sarah: There were many other qualified applicants, and even the admissions committee can’t specify what ensures an applicant will receive a scholarship.

I didn’t have to go for any interviews or submit any additional materials as I was automatically considered for a scholarship with my application to UT. I can say that I put a lot of effort into maintaining a good academic record and producing quality work in school, especially in my research projects.

And outside of school, my extracurricular activities – particularly my experience in Coding Lab, which I wrote about in my college essays, certainly contributed as well. 

Image of Sarah Go and student
Sarah as a student tutor volunteer explaining a concept to her student.

Q: What were the Coding Lab classes that you took and how have they brought you to where you are now?

Sarah: I took the Python Meets Mathematics course and honestly if I didn’t take that course I wouldn’t even have chosen ECE as my major! I went into Coding Lab as a total coding newbie and honestly was feeling quite ambivalent towards coding when I went to my first lesson.

I found the course material accessible and easy to understand, and I got to use the programming knowledge I learned in fun mathematical applications right from the start.

At the end of my first lesson, after just a couple of hours, I was so enthralled with coding that both my parents and I were surprised! But beyond the course material, what truly sparked my interest in coding was my teacher Mr. Yong. He’s an incredibly dedicated teacher, and his guidance and enthusiasm towards coding not only made me look forward to every lesson but, three years later, has ultimately motivated me to go into computing in college and maybe even as a career. 

Image of Sarah Go and her class
Sarah and her bright students!

Q: How do you plan on making the most out of your time, now that things have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Sarah: Well, like many other students around the world, I am pretty much stuck at home this summer due to Covid-19. Fortunately, there are so many readily available resources be it educational and recreational on the internet that I have hardly been bored! I’m reading ebook versions of classics that have always been on my reading list, and have also been self-studying Chinese. I have also stuck to my goal of learning at least one new computing-related thing every day, which has definitely helped keep me busy and productive. Today, for example, while doing some problems I encountered a neat algorithm called the Boyer-Moore Majority Vote Algorithm. While reading about the algorithm, I learned that it was a UT professor that co-invented it, which is super cool!

Q: What are you looking forward to the most when you start university?

Sarah: I really look forward to meeting other students at UT; not only ECE students who share the same interest in computers as me, but also other students in different majors, all of whom have very diverse cultures and backgrounds. I also look forward to meeting professors at UT, who have done amazing work in their fields! As for my classes, I’m quite excited about learning more about the hardware aspects of computing, because I’ve really immersed myself in programming these few years. I believe these aspects of my university experience will be a real eye-opener for me. 

Q: Any words of advice for budding programmers out there?

Sarah: My first advice to budding programmers is, honestly, to keep coding! That may sound kind of silly, but coding is one of those things where the best way to learn is by doing, or in this case, programming. Every time you learn something new, grab some problems or projects off the internet – or maybe think up something yourself – and create a program to try it out! I also think it’s good to keep challenging yourself. Sometimes, easy programming problems can be tempting, but you learn the most from hard problems – problems that seem complex and maybe even beyond your abilities.

By continually pushing your boundaries, you’ll expand your knowledge and eventually problems that you once found difficult will become doable.

And also – it’s completely fine to encounter difficulties and spend hours debugging a program. Just keep in mind that coding is a lifelong journey, and like a rollercoaster ride, while there may be ups and downs, it’s a lot of fun as well! 

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.

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

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

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

That’s all that we have for this month’s techtivities! 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.