We sent our intern to Japan to teach over the summer holidays. He shares his 4 key takeaways on how children learn.

Monday, 1400H: The plane touched down at Haneda airport. It was my second time in Tokyo, but it certainly felt different from my first. As I breathed in the cool air and looked around me, I felt a sense of excitement as to what would await me the next day, when I would first step into the Coding Lab Japan campus and have my first interaction with the students and teaching team.

Tuesday, 0800H: Finally! After a quick ride on the efficient subway, I was about to take my first step into the Coding Lab campus – easily identifiable with the Signature Coding Lab emblem visible on the glass door. My time in Coding Lab Japan was about to begin.

I stepped through the glass doors, and here’s what I learnt:

Coding Lab Japan Campus (Tokyo, Japan)
Coding Lab Japan Campus (Tokyo, Japan)
  1. Entertain their curiosities

In Japan, I had a very young student who was very nervous and afraid in class. But I soon found out that she loved to play the piano. She was fascinated when I introduced the different musical instruments in Scratch, and we had great fun creating music related projects together. I realised just how important it was to pay attention to the children’s curiosities and interests, as that would be what gives them their intrinsic motivation to learn. We need to ensure that we discover the topic that the child is interested in, and engage them by combining it with programming concepts to build a fun project.

Moral of the story: Children will be curious, no matter which country they are from. They are always fascinated about how things work, and more often than not, there will be a mischievous student in class figuring out how to take it apart. Taking note of what they are curious about is a good way to find out more about the child’s interests, and these are going to be your best allies in grabbing and holding that child’s attention.

  1. Understand how they Learn

Although many of the students in Japan do not take English as their first language, communication was no issue as I was able to help them understand key concepts by switching between different methods of teaching. I alternated between drawing it out, to using real-life examples (acting it out sometimes!), and most importantly, encouraging them to try it out by themselves. The satisfaction when they finally got it and were able to write their lines of code brought a huge smile to my face.

Moral of the story: Children learn and develop at different rates. It is important to understand how they learn, and adjust our teaching methods accordingly. The process of figuring out the child’s learning style will require time, observations, and trial and error. At the end of the day, it is completely worth it, just to make a difference in the child’s life.

Students in Japan learning how to code using Scratch
Students in Japan learning how to code using Scratch
  1. Explore through Play

Whether in Japan or Singapore, students are always excited about playing with their own games after they have created them. They often get absorbed in experimenting with their projects, oftentimes changing a value here and there which makes a huge difference to the difficulty and gameplay of their games.

Encouraging students to experiment with the games they have learnt to create reinforces what they have learnt and also helps to build confidence in their own abilities. Sometimes the results of their experiments can surprise you!

A student in Japan was playing with one of the tech toys at Coding Lab – an Airblock drone – during his break time and he could program the drone without much help even though he has not done it before, as it was similar to what he had learnt in Scratch.

Moral of the story: Children love to play! Play is one of the main ways in which children learn. Give the children some time to play and experiment on their own; you’ll be surprised by their concentration, and what they can achieve.

Learning to fly and code the Airblock drone
Yilun with the kids – Learning to fly and code the Airblock drone
  1. Challenge them at the Right Level

Whenever any of the students got stuck writing their code, I would ask them to take a quick break if they needed to, and challenge them to solve the problem when they return. More often than not, they quickly got into solving the problem, as solving a challenge given by a teacher gives them a great sense of accomplishment.

However, it is important to take note of the abilities of the children, and challenge them at the right level. Giving them a challenge that is not within their capabilities will discourage them, doing more harm than good. It is important to observe the capabilities of the children, and create challenges that are slightly outside of their comfort zone.

In the Coding Lab curriculum, there are many different problems and challenges available, designed for different levels of abilities to bring out the best in your child.

Moral of the story: Challenges and competitions are a great (and fun) way to get the children involved and motivated. This way, you can push the child to achieve more, and build their confidence.

Wednesday, 1630: As I boarded the flight back to Singapore, I couldn’t help but review the memories of my experience in Japan. All in all, it was amazing and I really enjoyed the chance to make an impact in the students’ lives during my time in Coding Lab Japan. On top of that, I experienced the wonderful culture of Japan and visited many beautiful places. 

I have truly learned a lot from the teams in both Japan and Singapore and the experience has been invaluable.

Nikko, Japan - The beautiful Shinkyo Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage site (One of my favourite places in Tokyo)
Nikko, Japan – The beautiful Shinkyo Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage site (One of my favourite places in Tokyo)

Parents’ Learning Festival 2018

Coding Lab was privileged to be a part the Parents’ Learning Festival 2018. Our founder, Mr Foo Yong Ning was an invited panelist where he addressed issues on S.T.E.A.M. Learning in this digital Age.

Our Founder, Yong Ning, as an invited panelist for the Parents' Learning Festival 2018
Our Founder, Yong Ning, as an invited panelist for the Parents’ Learning Festival 2018

Key issues debated included the way learning has changed in the 21st Century (where students are now taught to think and apply what they have learned, rather than rote memorisation of notes), as well as the implications of this in countries all over the world, comparing the technology adoption rate of Singapore with other countries such as China and India (Eg. Cashless Payment and mobile apps).

Our co-founder, Candice also gave a talk on Coding: The Language of the Future, where she shared more on how coding is not a separate subject, but rather, a language or a skill that can be applied to all disciplines, including Math and Science.

Our co-founder, Candice, giving a speech on Coding: The Language of the Future
Our co-founder, Candice, giving a speech on Coding: The Language of the Future
Conducting the 1st coding class of the Sep hols!
Conducting the 1st coding class of the Sep hols!

Whilst the parents were busy with their talks, students also had lots fun with their first foray into coding at our class conducted during the festival.

Cracking the Code: Coding Lab Feature in Little Magazine (Aug – Oct 2018)

We are featured in the August – October 2018 issue of Little Magazine! Read on to discover what our Founder, Yong Ning and our Curriculum Advisor, Julius have to share on why Coding is so important for the children of today’s digital age.

Little (Aug - Oct'18) Feature
Little (Aug – Oct’18) Feature (Page 90)
Little (Aug - Oct'18) Feature (Page 91)
Little (Aug – Oct’18) Feature (Page 91)

 

Today, we have our Lead Educator, Ms Mona Tan, with us to share why coding is the new literacy and why it is critical for parents to start their children on it. Mona is an experienced educator who caters the class according to the needs of her students. 
 
Q. Tell us about yourself! 
I graduated from NUS Science with a major in Statistics and a minor in Computer Science. But really, I spent way more time in the School of Computing as opposed to the Faculty of Science.
 
Q. What are your hobbies?
I play computer games. A lot of computer games. In fact that’s mostly why I like computers.
 
IMG_2646
Mona the tinkerer working her magic on the school’s laptop 

 

Q. How did you get started, teaching kids coding?
I first started teaching robotics and math, during my pre-university days. I later got an internship to teach coding at an education startup, and from then on I fell in love with teaching coding to kids.
 
Q. What keeps you going? Why do you enjoy teaching kids?
Teaching, in my opinion is one of the most important jobs around. Why? Because we nurture the next generation. We inspire children not just academically, but also on a personal level. Nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing that students look up to me as a role model. 
 

“We nurture the next generation. We inspire children not just academically, but also on a personal level.” 

 
Q. Why do you think kids should learn coding?
We live in a complicated world. Being able to understand how computers works helps kids to understand complexity and learn how to manage it. Coding does not just apply to computers, the logic that goes on behind it can be applied to many situations in life.
 
Q. If a child is talented and passionate in programming, how will this help him in his everyday life, school, or future career?
Programming is an essential skill in today’s society. Everything we do is largely driven by technology. From the social media apps we use, to work efficiency tools, every aspect of our life is intertwined with technology. Knowing exactly how technology works and how to create technology provides an edge in a competitive society.
 
“Knowing exactly how technology works and how to create technology provides an edge in a competitive society.”
 
Q. Tell us about how a typical coding class would look like.
There’s no one-size-fits-all “typical” coding class, it all depends on the students and their learning needs. Given a small class size, each class differs depending on the students that are in it. It is important that every student feels comfortable in class so that they can get the most out of each lesson. 

 

IMG_0441 (2)Putting on their thinking caps

 

Q. If I walked into your classroom during a lesson, what would I see and hear?
A whole lot of learning, interaction, laughter and fun. 
 
Q. In your opinion, what is the most important takeaway for kids from Coding class?
The most important takeaway is learning how to manage complexity.
 
Q. Describe a bit more about what you teach. If I had 2 kids, one 8 and one 14, what would they learn and how would it be age-appropriate?

For the 8 year old, I would recommend Scratch if the kid has never done programming before. Scratch is a user-friendly interface that teaches kids how to think like a computer without the messy syntax that goes on behind the scenes.

For the 14 year old, I would recommend Python as it’s a powerful real world computer language and it will enable the kid to go deeper into computing concepts to understand more complex algorithms.

 

IMG_0460Bright smiles after completing the class with Ms Mona
 
Mona is our lead educator who delights in translating her passion and talent for coding into the bright young minds of children. 

Our team had the opportunity to catch up with our cute student, Jun Min, and his mum over the weekend. An avid coder whose top hobby is also coding (no surprises there!), Jun Min started coding with us when he was barely 7, and has since progressed from being a #Scratcher to coding in Python. This talented little boy is now almost 9 – he shares with us more on his journey in coding and how he applies his talent in coding to his daily activities.

Q: Hi Jun Min! Why do you like coding so much?
Jun Min:  Coding is so interesting, and very tricky at the same time. I like this because I love challenges. I like being able to see the end result of my own creation/ code. Along the way, I get to edit my code just the way I like it, and do add-ons to make it better. This makes me feel like I have accomplished something all by myself.

Jun Min’s Mum: We started out just wanting him to try something new and to spend his school holidays productively, so we enrolled him in the Scratch 1 holiday course. But after that, he was so interested that he began to continue Scratch on his own accord! He showed such enthusiasm in learning coding that we decided to continue on to the Gifted Coders program when he was invited.

“Coding is so interesting, and very tricky at the same time. I like this because I love challenges”

Meet Jun Min, 9, our young coder
Meet Jun Min, 8, our cool young coder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: How has the experience been for you so far?

Jun Min: My experience has been really fun. Being in the Gifted Coders program also brings me to the higher stages of difficulty in coding, so this challenges me even more! My teachers at Coding Lab have been very nice and patient as well. I always look forward to coding class.

Coding is a fun way for me to practice old and new concepts in Maths and Science.”

Q: That’s really cool. How do you find the time to code on top of your schoolwork? Do you think what you learn in Coding class has helped you at school?
Jun Min: My favourite subjects are Mathematics and Science. Coding involves Maths and Science as well and requires a lot of mathematical skills. So coding is a fun way for me to practice old and new concepts in Maths and Science.

Jun Min’s Mum: I believe it has helped him express himself better and helped him to foster and develop his creative juices. It has also increased his proficiency in using the computer, which is very useful, as schoolwork involves online work and projects nowadays.

Can you post Jun Min's favourite characters on this cake? Hint: #Scratcher #mBot
Can you spot Jun Min’s favourite characters on this cake? Hint: #Scratcher #mBot

“It has also taught him perseverance, as well as improved his ability to troubleshoot and solve problems on his own.”

Q: Apart from coding, what else do you like to do? What are your hobbies?
Jun Min: My hobby is coding! I love creating new games. I also love playing computer games. Other than that, I also enjoy cycling, swimming and drawing, and even designing games on paper. I hope to become a game designer one day.

Jun Min’s Mum: Coding has increased his confidence in his own abilities, and encouraged him to take pride in his own work. It has also taught him perseverance, as well as improved his ability to troubleshoot and solve problems on his own. He is always excited to ‘present’ his code or new design to us, and it has been really heartening to see him so passionate about something. 

Q: Share with us something interesting about Jun Min:
Jun Min’s Mum: Jun Min loves mathematics and started doing mental sums on his own at a very young age. He has come up with a few mathematical equations and taught us as well.

Q: Lastly, do you have any advice for other parents out there regarding STEM education?
Jun Min’s Mum: STEM education is increasingly important and will soon be an intrinsic part of our lives, hence early exposure is useful.

Jun Min is a Primary 3 student at Henry Park Primary School. He is currently attending Coding Lab’s Gifted Coders weekly programme and was one of the participants at the 2017 Inter-Primary Robotics Competition.

 

You’ve probably heard her lovely vocals either on television or at landmarks all over Singapore where she has performed as a soloist. Meet Lauren, the child music prodigy who, at the age of 9, sang at Carnegie Hall after winning 1st place at the American Protégé International Voice Competition in New York. Also a self-confessed Science nerd, and a member of her school Science Club and MENSA, Lauren is living proof that arts and science can go together.


Here’s a peek at Lauren’s beautiful vocals with “Bring Him Home” – Les Miserables

We caught up with our talented young student regarding her school life, the importance of persistence and hard work, and why she thinks coding is fun.

Q: Tell us how you got started with coding. What challenges did you face when you first started?

Lauren: I am a member of my school’s Infocomm club where we get to learn about coding. The first few times I ran my code, there were always some errors somewhere. I had to keep correcting and fixing my code until it worked. It was frustrating, and I would say it feels kinda like you are getting through a tough Math problem. But I felt so relieved and happy when I got my code to work. I just feel so good when I see that it works.

So this holiday, no matter how busy I was, I wanted to take some lessons because I really enjoy coding.

“I made my own quadratic equation solver that literally spews out all the answers to my Math homework.”

Q:What do you like most about coding?

Lauren: To me, coding is like talking with the computer. I also like that I can start with a blank canvas and I am free to create anything I want with it.  Do you like video games? You could create your own games from Scratch. Do you like art? You could draw and create all sorts of pictures and tessellations with the computer. Coding could also be a platform to express your creativity. For me, I made my own quadratic equation solver that literally spews out all the answers to my Math homework.

Lauren, with her quadratic equation solver
Lauren, with her quadratic equation solver

I have to be really persistent, and I thank my coding tutor (Mona) for being so encouraging to me. Sometimes when I run my code, an error comes up. When I try to fix the problem, it opens up another problem. So I have to keep fixing and trying, over and over again until I finally get it right. In that way, coding tests my patience but coding is still super cool!


9-year-old Lauren, singing “Music of the Night” at the Esplanade

“Coding is a skill that will always be relevant to anyone.”

Q: How does it help you at school? Do you think it’s a good skill to have?
Lauren: Technology is getting more and more important. Even if you don’t want to do something in the field of STEM in the future, practically every company has a technological component to it. So to me, coding is a skill that will always be relevant to anyone.

For example, If I am trying to solve or accomplish a certain outcome with my code, I have to logically break down my thinking process, analyze it and then start writing my code. More often than not, the first time you run it, there will be an error somewhere. I will usually have to scan through my lines of code, detect the problems and then try to troubleshoot from there. This has trained me to solve problems creatively. Coding can also be used to help us in our everyday activities. I love to eat Oreos, so making my very own Oreo shopping cart to keep track of all the different types of Oreos I hope to buy was an amazing experience.

Lauren is currently in Year 3 at Methodist Girls’ School (Secondary), as a candidate for the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. She is also a member of MENSA. Lauren attended the Python Meets Math class in 2017. 

What makes Coding Lab a school that is different? How do we continuously strive to make your child’s learning more fun, more insightful, and more applicable?

Find out more from our Co-founder, Yong Ning as he shares his passion to create a school that inspires, in this article feature with Little Magazine.

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.”
― Abraham Lincoln

A Personal Touch - Inspiring Passion in Coding with the child-centred approach
A Personal Touch – Inspiring Passion in Coding with the child-centered approach

Happy Birthday, Singapore! A National Day ScratchJr Animation


“Count on Me, Singapore” – How do we raise our Singapore Flag to move up continuously? Our 4-6 year olds learn to code with National Pride, belting out a familiar favourite.

We got to test out the swankiest library in town – Tampines Regional Library and the newly-opened state-of-the-art IMDA Pixel Labs, where we were given the privilege to conduct a workshop as part of the opening series for the Pixel Labs. We throughly enjoyed teaching the little ones how to code, with a combination of craft, kinasethetic action, and of course ScratchJr blocks. Way to go, kiddos!

Our student, Jake was recently featured in #ALittleSomebody, by Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报. Congratulations to Jake and his cute family! From his winning Bat out of a Bat game, to a Birthday App for his Dad, to a beautiful game for his little brother, Jake is truly a young talent in coding.

P/s: Catch our Founder, Foo Yong Ning in action as he coaches Jake and his classmates during their lesson.

Doing our part to train up our young coders to become future leaders in technology!

Train Adventures with Code on ScratchJr

Excited to be a part of the official re-opening of the new, cutting-edge Bukit Panjang Public Library this morning.

We were featured in this video by The Straits Times. The kids had loads of fun being a train and following the commands!

Every child has a special book that they like to read and reread. With technology, we help bring their imagination to life, enabling them to remember and to tell the story in their own special way – the way they want.

Maisy's Train - A Childhood Favourite
Maisy’s Train – A Childhood Favourite

Based on the classic, Maisy’s Train, the children went on a Train Adventure with Code and understood the importance of giving specific instructions, as well as the key movement blocks in ScratchJr.

The kids forming a Train to follow the coding commands
The kids forming a Train to follow the coding commands
Pointing out the part of the code that makes the train grow bigger
Pointing out the part of the code that makes the train grow bigger

We also welcomed a very special guest; Minister Vivian Balakrishnan who popped by during the programme!

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with our Co-Founder, Yong Ning Foo
Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with our Co-Founder, Yong Ning Foo

Seeing the look of joy and delight on the kids faces really made our day. We can’t wait to bring more stories to life with more children, with exciting programmes planned at our National Library Singapore!

As part of the official opening series of the Bukit Panjang Regional Library, we also conducted a series of coding workshops for preschoolers. The theme, Train Adventures with code provided loads of fun and entertainment as they learned how to program their trains both physically and digitally.