Our team had the opportunity to catch up with our talented student, Josephine, 14. A member of her school’s Infocomm club, she started with Coding Lab in 2017, where she was first introduced to Python programming. She has since progressed upward and can now count programming in C++ as another skill under her belt. This humble and intelligent student shares with us her journey in programming and why she enjoys the challenge it poses for her.
Hi Josephine! Could you share with us how you got started on coding?
I started coding at the end of 2017, mostly due to school’s influence because I am in the Infocomm club. I like computers so I thought I might as well try coding and see if my interest lies there. So that is how I started researching on coding – lessons and which ones I can join.
How was the learning experience and what did you like about it?
I started with Python and it was very fun! Honestly! It was new and it was fun. It was something other than school work so it was great. I guess afterward I became more and more interested so I kept continuing the lessons. And I think another part of Python that I really enjoyed was Python Perfect which was basically coding challenges. I would work on different challenges each week, to devise a solution to the problems. I really enjoyed it and that kept my interest sustained.
I started with Python and it was very fun! I really enjoyed Python Perfect which was basically coding challenges.
I know you are preparing for the NOI competition. How does it differ from your previous Python lessons?
NOI is a completely different language – which is C++. Initially, the first day was quite hard to convert over to C++ because the syntax is quite different. But right now I find it quite fun.
How does C++ compare to Python?
I think it’s the same. Both require logical thinking and designing algorithms. But C++, because it is an NOI lesson – the challenges are really hard. Harder than the Python ones. So they are quite hard to deal with and I feel like my brain is exploding sometimes (laughs) but it is still fun!
How does it help you in school? Do you think it is an essential skill to learn?
When I code in school, I do see some of my friends getting interested in it. They will ask me about it. I told my CCA teacher that I am taking Python lessons outside of infocomm because Infocomm doesn’t do any Python lessons. I enjoy thinking – especially the application of school mathematics to Python. I get really excited when I see lines and lines of code (yes, really!).
I enjoy thinking – especially the application of school mathematics to Python.
What career would you like to pursue in the future?
I cannot very confidently say I would like to code for the rest of my life (laughs). But definitely more towards the area of Science. I think it is an extremely important skill to have because society is fast-paced now.
Technology is getting more and more advanced so in the future, it will be hard to survive in the world when you have absolutely no idea what is happening behind the computers, the AI, and the robots.
Josephine, 14, is a student at Raffles Girls’ School. She started off with our basic Python course and recently attended our NOI preparation class this summer. The National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) is organized by NUS School of Computing annually to spur interest within the school community and to create more awareness among the students and teachers on the finer points of programming, which involves useful algorithmic techniques and problem-solving skills.
#Girl Power: Meet Sarah, our talented young coder. Starting from ground zero, she has come a long way – after all, she clinched an Honourable mention at the National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) in March 2018, in just less than six months of learning to code. How did she do it? Read more from our plucky student as she shares with us her journey with coding and how it has impacted her life.
Q: Tell us how you got started with coding. What do you like most about it? Sarah: It was Coding Lab that sparked my interest in coding. In the past, I’d never imagined using a computer for anything more than a Google search. But after a few lessons at Coding Lab, as I began to take my first steps into the Python programming language, I fell head over heels in love with coding. My interest surprised even myself! My teacher Mr. Foo is truly inspirational. As I started with no coding experience, he guided me with infinite patience and would be more than happy to fill the board with diagrams and explanations just to make sure that I completely understood a concept. His enthusiasm really got me into coding- passion for coding is contagious! I started out with the Python meets Math course and I think it’s a great course for easing complete beginners like me into computers and coding. After you complete the course, you’ll have enough programming knowledge to read and understand code, pick up new languages and, most importantly, explore things through coding.
Sarah, with her family, trekking in the USA
Q: It took you less than six months to participate in your first coding competition. How did you manage that? Sarah: Well, The one thing I like most about coding is the freedom and possibility it presents. The fundamentals of coding are quite simple, but there’s so much that you can do just using variables, functions, and loops! I understood this when I was learning Python, but only truly appreciated it when I began learning algorithms and C++ to take part in the NOI. Mr. Foo started teaching me sorting algorithms about halfway through my December break, and I still remember my delight when I realized that I was beginning to explore coding at deeper and very relevant level. That’s why I decided to try out the NOI as a personal challenge. It was tough, but fun!
“After learning about graphs and data structures, I saw how coding can be used for modelling and organizing real-world information- just thinking about it makes me excited!”
Q: That’s really impressive! Not many would dare to compete so quickly! How did you feel about it? Sarah: Well, I think I just felt that there was nothing to lose! I was definitely a little nervous before the competition, but I always saw it as just another stepping stone to an even better understanding of coding. I faced a steep learning curve while preparing for the competition, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Sarah, receiving her award at the NOI competition in March 2018
Q: Now that the competition is over, what else do you think you want to do with coding? Sarah: I’ve really just brushed the surface of computer science. Coding is really a language, and just like someone learning a second spoken language, I’m still learning how to express myself and get my ideas down in clean (and readable!) code. I know that this only comes with practice and experience, so in the meantime, I plan to continue my journey into the awesome world of algorithms. I really want to be able to understand algorithms on a high level so that I can comfortably modify them and use them to solve complex problems. I hope that someday I can even design sophisticated algorithms myself! Apart from that, I also want to explore coding for modelling and simulations. That also makes me very excited.
Q: Designing algorithms – that’s fantastic. Could you share with us why you think learning to code is so important? Sarah: Coding is an important skill to have not just because people with a coding background earn higher salaries- more than that, coding gives you power over the technology that will only play an increasingly significant role in your life. Speaking from a teenager’s perspective, there’s never a day when I don’t use my phone or computer. Coding also opens your mind to a different way of thinking.
“I find myself applying the logic and analytical skills I’ve picked up in coding both in school and in everyday life.”
Q: Apart from coding, what else do you like to do in your spare time? What’s a typical day for you like; how do you unwind at home after school? Sarah: Well, to be honest, coding has slowly become the hobby I really enjoy- but I still love baking! When I’m not studying or coding, I’m usually in the kitchen covered in flour or busy scouring blogs for recipes. I’m also learning tai chi fan, which I find a fun and challenging exercise. And yes! fishkeeping is one of my hobbies and I rear Discus fish at home.
Q: Coding, baking, fishkeeping – way cool! so what do you think you will end up doing when you grow up? Sarah: I’m still rather tentative when it comes to my career aspirations, but I really want to study math and computer science in college. And I honestly can’t imagine myself in a job unrelated to either of these fields- so maybe I’ll end up as a coder, who knows!
Q: We hope so too! Lastly, in the current field of STEM, there is sometimes the mistaken impression that it is ‘only for boys’. How do you think girls can be encouraged to pursue their passion in Math, Science and coding? Do you have any tips for young girls who want to code? Sarah: To all girls who are thinking about getting into coding, my advice is to not be afraid and try it out! It’s never too late to begin coding, and everyone- even experienced coders- has been a newbie at some point in time. If you find that you really like coding, then go ahead and explore at your own pace, and don’t forget to enjoy every moment! Starting to learn how to code is the hardest part.
“You’ll definitely encounter problems and get frustrated at times, but with patience, there’s nothing that you can’t achieve. There’s no one who can’t or shouldn’t learn how to code.”
Also- speaking from experience, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the troves of information online. Don’t let this get the better of you. Just take things step by step. Break down a hard concept into bite-sized chunks. If you need a couple days to process something, that’s perfectly fine! Coding is a lifelong journey. Personally, even though I’ve learned a lot in the past few months I only feel that the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know.
“It’s weird but true- so just be sure take the time to appreciate what you’re learning, and don’t be intimidated by the vastness of coding, because that’s where all the possibility lies, and that’s what makes coding beautiful!”
From 2020, 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. She has previously completed the full S100 series of classes with us and received an honourable mention at the 2018 NOI competition, in less than six months after she picked up coding.
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!
• NEW! Coding with Pororo! (Ages 4-8)
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Founded by an MIT Alumnus who worked in Silicon Valley, our MIT-inspired curriculum challenges your child to develop computational thinking and problem-solving skills, with a strong emphasis on inquiry-based learning and the application of key mathematical concepts.
We are honoured to have been voted the Best Coding Curriculum (16/17) by Parents, as awarded by Parents World Magazine, Singapore.
Coding Lab offers programming classes for ages 4-16 in Japan, Perth and Singapore.
We did a Holiday Coding with Pororo program last November 2016, and were heartened by the overwhelming response from both parents and kids. We are pleased to announce that the Coding with Pororo programme is back, this time, not as a one-time session, but with five full sessions, where kids will get to create a proper digital Pororo story and get the chance to meet Pororo himself!
Coding with Pororo! – Learn the commands (Ages 4-6)
Kids going to their Pororo coding stations
A happy student showing his completed Pororo Story!
Kids in Action – completing their story with Pororo
Kids will start off learning the attributes of the commands by having an activity session, using giant commands to direct each other and learn about mathematics (counting), while learning coding sequences and loops in the process. Exclusively at Pororo Park, make your favourite characters spin, twirl, hop or jump, or even do all 4 at once! Add your own music, backgrounds, and voila! your child’s very own Pororo story is formed.
Day 1: Introduction to Scratch Junior
Exploring and familiarising with the Scratch interface *Special Guest appearance by Pororo!
Day 2: Basic Computational Techniques
Choosing characters and backgrounds
Animating Characters with basic Motion blocks
Day 3: Control your Characters
Adding Speed and learning the concept of loops
Counting using the grid
Day 4: Animation
Adding Speech and sound
Interaction between the sprites (Start on Bump, etc)
Day 5: Project showcase
Work on your game concept
Use the techniques you have learnt over the past 4 days
Show and tell *Guess What, Pororo himself may be coming down to watch the performance!
Venue: Pororo Park Singapore Dates: 10 Feb – 10 March (Every Friday, 4-6pm) OR 11 Feb – 11 March (Every Saturday, 9-11am) No. of sessions: 5 x 2 Hours (+ 2 Hours FREE playtime!) Age: 3 years and above with 1 accompanied parent (optional)
Annual Member: $395
Gold/Silver Member: $345
Which programming language should I choose? Can my child really pick up programming when he is only 9 years old?
These are some of the common questions that we hear from parents. Choosing the first programming language for kids can be a little confusing. However, if you are planning to send your children to kids coding classes, you may wonder which language your little ones should start with. Computer programming for kids should be a fun and enjoyable experience. You should choose a language that is easy to learn, lets your kids learn the basics quickly, and provides a strong online community to support its users. The options are many; hence the confusion. However, don’t worry! Here are some tips on how to choose the first programming language for your kids.
Important things to consider
First things first, identify your objective. What do your kids want to accomplish with coding? Once you have a set goal, choosing a language becomes easier. For instance, Python (the reigning global #1 language in popularity) is a great option for those planning to create games or seeking a lucrative career opportunity, going forward. Some other factors to consider include:
Whether it is easy to use for beginners – Ideally, your kids should start with a coding language that lets them understand the basics without having to learn the complex vocabulary and syntax first. If your kids speak English, you may want to choose a coding language that has a vocabulary similar to that of the English language. Also, check the level of difficulty one has to face when learning a language. You can join online forums and read reviews to get an idea of what would be the right choice for your kids. Another alternative to foster a child the interest in programming is to provide them with coding books so that they will be exposed to what programming world is all about.
Whether they have a strong community – If they have an active, responsive community, you can ask questions and get the answers quickly. This makes learning easier for your kids. Most of the popular languages have a large, responsive community. Let’s take a look at some good options.
Popular programming languages for kids
Scratch – Suitable for Ages 8 upwards, Scratch is one of the most popular language options to start your kids on programming. It is the introductory programming language in many acclaimed universities around the world, including the Harvard University. This graphic based coding language is easy to learn and is highly recommended as the first language to start on. We also like the fact that preschoolers as young as 5 can create their own programming stories with their Scratch Junior for tablets!
MIT App Inventor – Like Scratch, MIT lets your kids’ innovate and improve their creative thinking ability, using a simple drag and drop interface. It also gives them a chance to create video games on their mobile devices, making it easy for the whole family to beat each other’s high score over dinner.
Python – We would recommend that your child moves on to Python after he has gotten a sold grasp of programming concepts and computational thinking using Scratch or MIT App Inventor, both of which cut down the tedium of memorising syntax and let kids skip straight to the actual programming with immediate output that they can understand.
That being said, the best thing about Python is that it can be used for many purposes, starting from creating web apps and video games to extracting data from the web. If your kids are good at mathematics, they will love to see the practical application of their math lessons in Python. Also, starting from 2017, 19 schools in Singapore will include Python as a key component of the “O” Levels for the subject, Computing.
Starting your child on programming, like any new skill, requires constant practice. Regardless of which language you choose, computational thinking is an integral part of life. Don’t underestimate how you can help them along by spending quality time with them; for example, asking them to solve debugging puzzles every night, or even debating logically based on facts over dinner over different topics. Let them design robot cars that carry the keys to you every morning, or maybe even a doorbell for the house. Hopefully, these little projects will continue to inspire them to not only pick up programming, but also adopt it as a lifelong hobby.
We are excited to work with Playeum to bring to you a very special and exclusive Tinkering Sunday, involving interdisciplinary activities, incorporating art collages, stories, and coding, of course!
Stories from Scratch
Sunday, 18 December 2016
10:30am to 12:30pm
$43.50 per adult/child pair (includes admission to the Children’s Centre for Creativity)
For ages 5 to 12
We’ve got a Tinkering Sundays workshop carefully curated for both the parent and child to work together on an interdisciplinary challenge. With the use of a range of art and natural materials, design your own landscape, create different characters and watch your story come to live through simple animations using Scratch coding software!
Please note that tickets once purchased may not be refunded. However, it may be transferred to other programmes of the same value, subject to availability. Tickets may be transferred or reimbursed in full if the workshop is cancelled or postponed by Playeum.
The recent #SmartNation initiative in Singapore as well as the Global trend of introducing young ones starting from preschoolers to Coding classes, have left many parents baffled and unable to keep up with the tech jargon sprouted by their preschoolers as young as 3.
Start your Child on their journey in logical thinking with our immersive and enriching preschool programme, suitable for ages 4-6, to give them a head start on coding. Involving physical activity, where they get the chance to learn logic and commands using live-sized blocks, children get to act out these commands with their classmates, with lots of running around (specially designed for active little ones!).
Themes range from Nursery Rhymes, Stories, Nature and Fairy Tales, subjects that our little ones love the most, to engage all their senses as they are challenged to think logically, whether it is to program a fairy to fly, vanquish evil with a Wizard’s wand, or make monkeys jump on the bed at different speeds.
With our MIT-inspired curriculum and small class ratio (1:6), your child is guaranteed a strong start on their foundation in Coding and Mathematics which will put them in good stead for the Elementary/Primary School curriculum.
P/s: Did we also mention that the kids get to play with a host of uber cool tech toys? Come and join us for hours of fun at our campus!~ #SeeYouSoon!
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