Thinzar is one of our beloved adjunct educators with a big heart. In this interview, we get to hear more about her non-conventional journey into the tech education industry.

Hi Thinzar, could you share a bit about yourself and how you embarked on this coding journey?

Team Photo - Thinzar, Educator
Thinzar has been an educator with Coding Lab since 2019

I am currently a Year 3 Sociology student at the National University of Singapore (NUS). I have always had an interest in the education sector and wanted to work with children, so Coding Lab was perfect for me!

Personally, I never had experience with coding before coming to Coding Lab so I had to pick it up along the way. During the interview, I was told about the training given to adjunct educators like myself. The moment I stepped in on my first day and realised how comprehensive the training given was (from personal tutorials by the founder, Yong Ning, to role-playing), my fears evaporated and I gained great confidence in teaching coding!

Coding is really fun to learn! But also, it is an important skill that trains important abilities like critical thinking and problem-solving.

That’s quite interesting that you have no coding background! Could you tell us more about how you came to teach coding, specifically?

Well, I was not particularly looking out for coding-related opportunities. I knew I was interested in teaching, so I researched and came across Coding Lab. I did not have experience in coding back then, but I have always liked math and solving problems (yes, even though I am currently studying social science)! Since coding is related to that, I thought I would enjoy learning and in turn, teaching what I have learnt.

Cool! So, what’s your teaching style like?

For me, I’ll first like to spark interest in my students. I ask them what kinds of cartoons, games or characters they like, then suggest some ideas that suit these interests. Often, I’ll get them to create projects that are similar to their favourite games or shows so that this will motivate them. However, I ensure that it’s not just copying what has been done. Instead, I encourage them to try out more things on their own beyond what is being taught. For instance, I challenge them to try adding features like making their Scratch sprites change colour even if we have not covered that in class. This way, it feels more like their achievement and it shows that they understand rather than just following what I do.

What’s even better is when my students ask whether I can be their teacher again for the next course that they plan to attend. That’s when I know that I have been an effective teacher to them!

What advice would you give to children who want to learn coding?

Thinzar in Junior Coders Programme
Thinzar enriches the lives of coders – even Junior Coders!

Coding is really fun to learn! But also, it is an important skill that trains important abilities like critical thinking and problem-solving. For example, you will have to think about what you want your program to do, then think about what to code to achieve that goal, and in what order they should code.

This kind of logical thinking is important, even outside of the class and even if you do not pursue computing in the future. You will always have something to take away, including skills that can be applied in other areas such as Mathematics and in your daily life too.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just try out new things because that’s how you (and I) learn!

Do you intend to continue teaching coding in the future?

I love teaching coding and interacting with my students! I believe in giving them a voice and our small class sizes allow that. Each student will have his/her own way to solve the problem, and I encourage them to show and tell their ideas to the class so they can learn from each other. Sometimes, they even come up with ideas that I didn’t think of! I look forward to my continued journey in understanding the younger generation and pushing them to explore, expend their curiosity and gain the confidence to speak up and share it with others.

What do you like to do outside the classroom?

Image of team with President Halimah Yacob
President Halimah Yacob with (from left) Ms Low Tze Hui, Manager, Infocomm Media Development Authority and her son, Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, Candice, Co-Founder of Coding Lab at the at the National Library Board’s kidsREAD 15th anniversary carnival

I really enjoy putting my skills to impact others, whether its youth or kids. I was really grateful for the opportunity to be appointed the President of Tiny Thinkers under Coding Lab. The exposure was invaluable; I had the chance to work closely with the founders themselves (who were my mentors) and the tutors to curate a curriculum at low cost to impact preschoolers, to guiding a team of volunteer teachers in introducing preschoolers to coding fundamentals, to conducting briefings to a 100-strong audience at the National Library of Singapore. The skills I learnt while being in charge of Tiny Thinkers’ core team were invaluable as I used them in organising a virtual career fair under my university CCA.

Furthermore, Tiny Thinkers let me step out of my comfort zone as I had to interact with parents! This increased my self-confidence that allowed me to pursue organising large-scale events that included overseas participants. I am indeed thankful for the opportunities, mentorship and training I received at Coding Lab which helped shaped my mindset and allowed me to grow and gain lifelong skills along the way.

Finally, any words of wisdom for your students?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just try out new things because that’s how you (and I) learn!

And for your fellow educators?

I would say to be adaptable because while we are trained to teach a syllabus, we will have to modify it on the spot if the students cannot understand your initial way of teaching.

Thank you, Thinzar, for sharing with us about your coding education journey! We’re glad to have you with us on Saturday afternoons as you fruitfully translate your passion and talent for coding into the bright young minds of children.

Interested to join the Coding Lab team? Click here to find out more!

Read next: 3 Things I Learnt as an Educator at Coding Lab

(Written by Nicole)


Best-in-class Curriculum for Coding

Awards (600 x 129)
We are honoured to be the winner of multiple awards Thank You for your support.

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

Ages 4-6 | Ages 7-9 | Ages 10-12 | Ages 13-18

Call us at +65 6528 2282
Email us at learntocode@codinglab.com.sg
Chat with us via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger

Today, we would like you to meet Kieran Ho, our student and 1st Place (Python and Electives) at the International Coding Showcase 2020 (JP-SG) and awardee of Most Promising Young Coder at the Young Coders Global Hackathon (YCGH) 2020 Meet the inquisitive and bright, young boy in Secondary One this year.

Hi Kieran, tell us a bit about yourself!

Photo of Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder
Meet Kieran, aged 13 now, and with two years of coding experience

I turn 13 in July, and I have just started studying at NUS High School of Math and Science. I first got interested in coding when I came to Coding Lab in Primary 5. This led me to choose to attend NUS High as they have a module for computational thinking… and most of my friends are going there as well!

How was your initial coding experience?

When I first realised coding was a thing, I was slightly confused and didn’t really know what it was about. I only knew that you could code games. However, in Primary 2, when my friend said that he was reading a book about coding, I got interested in the topic and decided to find out more. Since then, I was fascinated by coding and after joining Coding Lab, I have deepened my understanding of programming immensely enough that I want it to be a part of my future career.

“Even if it seems hard now, in the future, it will get better and your hard work shall be rewarded!”

What is your favourite coding experience so far?

I really enjoyed participating in YCGH 2020. At the time, it was the largest project I had done, and I worked hard on it. In the end, my hard work paid off! I got a Merit award and got into the Top 5 finalists.

Is there a favourite project or program that you’ve done up?

My favourite project was probably a school administration system that I made using Python in my free time. The school administration program basically stores a list of students and teachers, and you can add students and teachers to the list and remove them as well. It could be used to manage teachers and students who have joined the school. This actually took a few weeks for me to code, which was quite a long time to me back then, as most projects I did back then didn’t really take too long to finish. It was quite fun to make and I really enjoyed it.

Watch Kieran’s International Coding Showcase submission

What would you say to other kids who are starting out coding for the first time now?

I would probably ask them to follow their dreams and to never give up. Even if it seems hard now, in the future, it will get better and your hard work shall be rewarded!

What do you like most about your coding classes?

I like that Coding Lab provides a great atmosphere to learn coding and even make new friends. The lessons are fun and immersive, and in case you need help, experienced coaches will always be by your side.

What do you want to do with coding in the future?

I might get a job that involves coding in some way, or enrol in a computational thinking course. I would definitely continue joining coding competitions, as I think they’re fun and can also help to improve my understanding of coding as a whole. They also teach me several important moral values such as resilience and perseverance.

Catch Kieran in the interview video with our dear students!

Kieran Ho, 13, is a Secondary One student at NUS High School of Math and Science. He started out with App Inventor when he was 11 years old, and has since quickly breezed through Python. He is brimming with potential, already taking on the Advanced Electives under our S200 series (recommended for ages 13 to 18).


Best-in-class Curriculum for Coding

Awards (600 x 129)

We are honoured to be the winner of multiple awards
Thank You for your support.

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

Ages 4-6 | Ages 7-9 | Ages 10-12 | Ages 13-18

Call us at +65 6528 2282
Email us at learntocode@codinglab.com.sg
Chat with us via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger

My journey at Coding Lab first began about 3 years ago, back in 2018. Fast forward to today, where I’m now teaching the Scratch, App Inventor and Python curricula and occasionally writing blogs in between. I was also given the opportunity to be the Head of Marketing for Tiny Thinkers, Coding Lab’s social initiative for children aged 4-7, where we reached out to thousands of children regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Lakshmi - Nurturing Future Leaders in Technology
Nurturing Future Leaders in Technology

I was just a Year One Business student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), with an interest in technology and community service, when I chanced on the opportunity to teach for the summer holidays. I’m now a proud summer intern of 2018 who returned in 2019, then again in 2020 as part of my NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) Programme internship.

With my background at NUS Business School, I was offered a dual-track programme at Coding Lab where my job scope involved both marketing and teaching. The variety in my job scope allowed me to challenge myself and hone my creativity while making a difference.

With each internship, I learned new lessons every time. Here are the 3 main lessons that I learnt:

1. There is strength in vulnerability

When I first scored my internship at Coding Lab, I wanted to grasp the opportunity to learn as much as possible! I started off with my tutor training – first with the founder, Yong Ning, then with the Lead Educator Lynn Kiew – where I learned some of the curriculum and tips to teach effectively.

Join Us photo - Adjunct Educators
Students from my very first Python class

My Data Analytics background gave me a strong technical grounding, but I had some doubts about my ability to teach in class. Coding Lab’s comprehensive training, which included small group sessions, learning assessments and role-playing, gave me first-hand experience on how it felt like to be a student too! My mentor, Lynn, also reached out to me to shadow classes and coached me on classroom management so I easily got the hang of it. Whilst I enjoy challenging the faster students, I always make it a point to approach a shy student who seems to be struggling so that I am able to extend a helping hand!

Nevertheless, every week is a new experience with different students. I learnt the most while I was on the job, when I had to think on my feet to adapt and to embrace new ways of teaching. Whenever I was stumped, I would turn to my mentors and fellow interns for advice. I’m so glad that they were always there to listen to me and offer their advice. I slowly learnt that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, and there is nothing wrong with saying that I need help!

2. Communication is key

As a full-time intern by day and a student by night, it was essential that I kept the team in the loop on my timetable and deadlines. It was not easy to juggle my commitments, but I’m glad that I pulled through it and I’m thankful that everyone at Coding Lab helped me to work around it! This was only possible with effective communication.

Interns Lakshmi and Kelvin
A taste-testing session with Kelvin, another intern! (Note: this picture was taken as snacks were being eaten, masks were worn otherwise)

I also learnt the hard way that it is better to clarify my doubts than to let it snowball over time. As an intern involved in both teaching and marketing, I was in constant communication with different mentors. Be it teaching my first App Inventor class or tackling the next blog, I made it a point to ask for feedback from my mentors beforehand, which helped me be fully prepared before class started and also to keep track of my progress.

Building and nurturing relationships with my mentors and fellow colleagues are extremely vital. It allowed me to experience the company culture and made my internship more enjoyable. Moreover, it is fun to get to know my colleagues beyond meetings and projects. I would personally like to thank Yong Ning, Candice, Lynn, Cheryl and the Coding Lab team for helping me through the finals season and my internship!

3. Be yourself!

In my opinion, every experience has a purpose whenever we look back on them. It may not be obvious right now, but remember to not compare your internship with that of your friends. You were chosen for your internship for a reason! Bring your own unique style to your work, and put your best foot forward.

After much trial and error, I now like to personalise my teaching style to fit what my students love (most recently, that has been the game Among Us). It’s especially rewarding and I love it when my students from the entry-level courses pop up in my advanced courses, excitedly greeting me in the first class!

Lakshmi in KAP Room 4 (Van Rossum) with a Thank You card from her student
A Thank You card from my students!

I’ve also learnt that edutech (education technology) is a sector that greatly interests me. Given the recent shift to a digitised economy and the potential impact we can make in the future, I hope to be more involved in this sector as an entrepreneur in the future.

I greatly enjoyed my internships with the team at Coding Lab – and you’ll still see me around in some Saturday classes. I truly love coming back during the holidays to make my impact on and to nurture future leaders in technology from different walks of life. Here’s to more meaningful learning experiences both in and out of the classroom! 🙂

Interested to join the Coding Lab team? Click here to find out more!


Best-in-class Curriculum for Coding

Awards (600 x 129)

We are honoured to be the winner of multiple awards
Thank You for your support.

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

Ages 4-6 | Ages 7-9 | Ages 10-12 | Ages 13-18

Call us at +65 6528 2282
Email us at learntocode@codinglab.com.sg
Chat with us via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger

Today, we get to know our educator, Edmund! He is a common sight in many of our Python classes, and it’s hard to miss his hearty laughter when you’re on our campus. Armed with a Masters in Mathematics, Edmund is always jovial and ready to lend a helping hand to his students.

Hi Edmund, what was your first encounter with coding like?

I would say that my very first experience with coding was during my tertiary days when I went to find out how to create a game similar to MapleStory with added features like PVP (player versus player) to play with my friends.

Cool! Did this inspire you to take Mathematics in university?

Since young, I have always loved solving challenging problems and I wanted to know more behind mathematical concepts. I competed frequently in Primary and Secondary school at the Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC), International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) as well as the National Mathematical Olympiad of Singapore ( NMO∑) where I scored Distinctions and won various awards for my school. Thus, it was only natural that I went on to complete a Masters programme in Mathematics. My Math background led to a strong understanding of Computer Science as I was exposed to programming languages such as MATLAB and R. The training I underwent enabled me to fully understand the reasoning and process of mathematical concepts. With that, I am able to explain to my students exactly what we are coding when I teach.

Edmund Feature 2
Edmund, always cheerful!

Wow! Okay, so are there any differences or similarities between the studies of Mathematics and Computer Science?

Coding is very similar to Mathematics where we make use of our problem-solving and logical skills. The thinking processes for both are very similar. The thinking and algorithmic logic is more important than which programming language we choose to use when coding (there are many that go in and out of fashion). Also, coding problems often require the usage of math. For instance, to code up a function that calculates x and y coordinates of a point might require mathematical concepts such as the Pythagoras Theorem. Many students we put up for the National Olympiad in Informatics also have very strong background in Math Olympiad. The two are indeed deeply connected.

So how did you go from Mathematics to teaching coding?

I always enjoyed teaching and instructing. During my National Service, I was an instructor for the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC). I taught my recruits lifesaving skills, brought them through foot drills and exposed them to outdoor adventure activities. It was a great motivation to see my cadets’ faces light up with joy and pride when they graduated from a course or successfully completed an activity. Even before my National Service, I was an assistant teacher for an enrichment programme provider which held quality programmes and holiday camps for preschools to secondary levels. So, I guess it was quite natural for me to move towards a career in teaching.

I heard that you taught yourself Python, which is pretty impressive! Could you take us through what that was like?

I learnt Python with the help of online platforms like YouTube! I was interested to know more about programming languages and researched online. I found out that Python was one of the most widely used languages. Then, I spent many hours watching tutorials, some videos were even 13 – 17 hours long, where I had to watch them at 2x speed. 🙂 It also helped that Coding Lab has very comprehensive teaching materials for Educators to grasp, practice and stay abreast of the latest curriculum and the community we build with other fellow tutors and students is a warm, close-knit one. I’m glad that I could easily depend on my teammates to help out if I needed anything!

Coding excites me, especially when I have spent a long time trying to debug a program and it finally works. This satisfaction is what I seek to inspire in my students for them to excel in coding!

What do you like best about teaching coding?

The best part about teaching coding is that I am able to continue learning even while I am teaching. You will be amazed at how creative and innovative the students can be with their ideas and the way they code. Some of them even have ideas that I would never have thought of!

What’s your teaching style like?

I try my best to always make my lesson fun and enjoyable. For instance, I’ll relate the lesson to topics that the students are into, making it more interactive. Sometimes I even use terms and references from games they play, or popular and trending videos they are likely to watch!

What did you think was so important about coding that you decided to join this industry?

I personally think that kids should learn how to code as technology is always advancing. Understanding how the computers work and learning coding helps the kids appreciate how things work and the ability to solve problems is a life skill that will stay with them!

We all know that motivating children can be tough, so how do you do it?

I believe that encouragement motivates people. A little goes a long way and every small encouragement will make the student feel more motivated to continue coding. I set goals for my students and support them in meeting those goals and even challenge them to go even further.

What is your most memorable teaching experience thus far?

My best teaching experience at Coding Lab so far would be one class where my students were all fans of the online comedian character, Uncle Roger, who makes parodies of cooking shows. We had programs done by the students under humorous names like “Egg Fried Rice”. They even compared me, “Uncle Edmund”, to “Uncle Roger”! It was a lot of fun and laughter while still being able to teach the skills and know-how of Python.

Photo of ACS Class
Edmund with his curious Advanced Computer Scientists students

Do you intend to continue teaching coding in the future?

Definitely! In fact, ever since I started coding and teaching it, I have a slight regret of not taking more modules in Computer Science during my Masters. I’m glad to be at Coding Lab, where I have the opportunity to pick up as much coding as I want and even impart this to many others. Coding excites me, especially when I have spent a long time trying to debug a program and it finally works. This satisfaction is what I seek to inspire in my students for them to excel in coding!

Finally, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am still a volunteer with the NCDCC. It was through this organisation that I had the opportunities to learn so many skills (lifesaving, rescue, outdoor adventure, etc). I’ve had many memorable experiences in the Corps. I once mentored a cadet who almost went astray due to family issues and bad company. He felt unappreciated back home and felt that he was being forced to attend the course that he had no interest in. I told him that if he wants others to appreciate him, he should first learn to appreciate himself. “Don’t try to change others, change yourself,” I said. When he graduated from secondary school, he even came back as a Cadet Lieutenant volunteer. On the day of his passing out parade, he asked me to be the one to help put his rank on for him. The moment I buttoned his rank on, I was overjoyed! NCDCC is my way of giving back to the society, by teaching, training and being a role model for the future generation 🙂

Thank you, Edmund, for taking the time to share your journey with us! We hope you continue to inspire our future generation of coders and be the role model that you already are, as a teacher, mentor, and more!

The Straits Times Feature: Addressing the Gender Gap in the STEM Sector

We’re proud to be featured in The Straits Times today! In Singapore’s English flagship newspaper, we shared our experience and thoughts on bridging the gender gap in the area of STEM.

“Given the right environment, girls can realise their potential,” our Director, Candice Wang, says. She is also a proud mother in the STEM field whose daughter attends weekly classes at Coding Lab.

The Straits Times feature - Gender gap in Stem sector: Support from parents is crucial to help girls excel
A snippet of our feature on The Straits Times (9 February 2021, Monday, LIFE)

“Given the right environment, girls can realise their potential,”

Candice Wang, Director of Coding Lab

Read the full article here.

Did you know that at Coding Lab, we ensure a gender-neutral environment to encourage students of all genders and ages to code? Some examples of how we do so include:

  • Showcasing a good mix of projects by girls and boys
  • Building programs, games and animations around students’ favourite cartoons and topics (eg. Disney shows and princesses)
  • Gender-neutral questions and exercises

Read our previous features: We’re on The Straits Times!

Our superstar coder and University of Texas (Austin) scholarship recipient, Sarah Go, is also featured! She talks about her experience as a female in STEM and how her parents and environment has helped her to excel. Read her blog features here and here.


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

It takes a lot of brain power to code, and as the brain takes up about 20% of the body’s calories, it’s super important to eat the right foods to stay energised and healthy! The Coding Lab team has assembled the best list of brain foods that you can eat to keep those brain cells active – check them out below. 🧠💪

Image of Brain Food: Eggs

1. Eggs

A breakfast staple for many, eggs are a good source of several nutrients (like vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and choline) tied to brain health! 

The egg yolks in eggs are rich in choline, which is an important micronutrient needed by our bodies to help regulate mood and memory. The B vitamins that eggs contain also help to slow down the progression of mental decline, synthesise brain chemicals and regulate the sugar levels in the brain. 

If coding’s on your to-do list for the day, make sure to start it right – with a sunny side up!

2. Dark chocolate

Flavonoids present in the cocoa in dark chocolate are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. Antioxidants are able to help prevent oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline as they damage cells in the body. In short, antioxidants often go hand-in-hand with anti-aging.

Dark chocolate is also known to contain less sugar than other types of chocolate, and with the presence of polyphenols – which help to improve insulin sensitivity – they help to control our blood sugar levels.

Now that you know the goodness dark chocolate brings, don’t forget to set aside a few bars for your next coding session! 

Image of Brain Food: Dark Chocolate
Image of Brain Food: Fatty Fish

3. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is abundant in Omega-3. The Omega-3 fatty acids are capable of building cell membranes in the body, like those in the eyes and the brain. Thus, they are able to improve our vision as well as the structure of our brain cells – known as neurons – which are vital in transmitting information between the brain and the rest of the nervous system. 

Read: 5 Tips to Better Eye Health

Foods rich in Omega-3s are also great for improving concentration and cognitive functioning, hence further enhancing your ability to process and think when coding!

Try out this recipe: Lemon Dijon Baked Salmon and Potatoes

Credit: AverieCooks

Ingredients:
• 8 medium sized (or 900 to 1130 grams of) russet potatoes, halved or quartered into 1-inch pieces
• 5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 57 grams unsalted butter, melted
• 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• Four 170 grams skin on salmon fillets
• Fresh parsley (optional for garnishing)

Instructions:
1. Preheat your oven to ~220°C (425°F). Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminium foil for easier cleanup and spray with cooking spray. Add the potatoes and evenly drizzle 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Evenly season with salt and pepper and toss with your hands to combine and evenly coat. Bake for 15 minutes or until potatoes are about 75% done.
2. While the potatoes are baking, in a small microwavable bowl, heat up the butter for about 45 seconds. Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and stir to combine; set aside. 
3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the potatoes to ensure even cooking. Add the salmon-fillets skin-down, evenly drizzle with the remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil and nestle the potatoes around the salmon.
4. Evenly drizzle about two-thirds of the lemon butter Dijon mixture over the salmon fillets. Evenly drizzle the remaining one-third over the potatoes.
5. Evenly season the salmon with salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon and potatoes are done. The salmon should flake easily and the potatoes should be fork-tender. 
7. Garnish with parsley (optional) and serve immediately. Recipe is best fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.

4. Berries

Berries are delicious to snack on and they’re full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. They’ll definitely give your brain a boost of energy – set a bowl of good berries next to you on your next coding session and you’re set for a productive time.

Some berries that you can easily get from your nearest market are:
✓ Strawberries
✓ Blueberries
✓ Raspberries
✓ Cranberries
✓ Grapes

Image of Brain Food: Berries
Image of Brain Food: Whole Grains

5. Whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of vitamin E which has powerful antioxidant properties. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, it’s able to cross the blood-brain barrier and protect fats from oxidation, hence reducing oxidative stress on the brain! 

Some examples of whole grains include:
✓ Brown rice
✓ Oatmeal
✓ Whole-wheat bread
✓ Whole-wheat pasta
✓ Whole-wheat crackers

Got a few ripe bananas sitting on your kitchen counter? Whip ’em up into a loaf of delicious banana bread!

Try out this recipe: Easy Banana Bread

Credit: SimplyRecipes

Ingredients:
• 2 to 3 ripe bananas, peeled (about 160 to 192 grams mashed)
• 76 grams unsalted butter, melted
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 150 grams sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Pinch of salt
• 204 grams of all-purpose flour

Instructions:
1. Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F), and butter a 4×8-inch loaf pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.
3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.
4. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 175°C (350°F), or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Afterwards, remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing and serving.

6. Vegetables

Eat up those greens! Although different vegetables exert their effects on the brain through different mechanisms, they share the common trend of having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties. An example would be cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts that contain compounds which can prevent oxidative damage and fight cancer cells!

Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat those greens? We’ve got a trick up our sleeves for you. Check out this amazing cauliflower rice recipe below!

Image of cauliflower
Try out this recipe: Cauliflower Rice (Super easy!)

Credit: MinimalistBaker

Ingredients:
• Pine cauliflower

Instructions:
1. Wash and thoroughly dry cauliflower, then remove all the greens.
2. You can choose to either use a box grater or a food processor! If using a box grater, cut the cauliflower into large chunks and use the medium-sized holes of the box grater to grate into ‘rice’. If using a food processor, cut into small pieces and use the grater attachment to grate the cauliflower into ‘rice’.
3. Transfer to a clean paper towel and press to remove any moisture (that can make your dish soggy!)
4. You can enjoy your cauliflower rice cooked or raw! You can cook your cauliflower rice by sautéing in a pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover with a lid to make the cauliflower stems more tender! Cook for a total of 5-8 minutes and season as desired.
5. You can use cauliflower rice in recipes that call for rice – like fried rice! You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Uncooked cauliflower rice can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.

We hope that these foods will keep your minds sharp and more focused when coding! Make sure to include them in your shopping list for the next time you go to the market and don’t forget to share this with your friends and family! 😉


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

Our previous Did You Know? from our Young Computer Scientists (YCS) series let many of you wow your friends with your knowledge. We heard you! We have decided to bring back more fun facts – this time from our Advanced Computer Scientists series.

Our ACS student having fun in class!
Our ACS student having fun in class!

In the P21S Advanced Computer Scientists (ACS) course, our 10-to-12-year-olds can collect 12 different badges. Each badge allows them to delve into diverse fields of application for coding, from UI/UX design experience to Game Development and Math, just to name a few.

Turtle Race by Emily, 12, Advanced Computer Scientists
Turtle Race by Emily, 12 years old
Space Invaders by Luciano, 12, Advanced Computer Scientists
Space Invaders by Luciano, 12 years old

The ACS programme spans three main types of learning – Hardware-Based, Syntax-Based and App Development. Upon completion, our students would have had hands-on experience with bots and be well-versed in writing real-world apps and programs that they can use to help others.

Photo of ACS Class
Our curious Advanced Computer Scientists trying out in-class activities

Without further ado, check out these 3 ‘Did You Know’ facts that we share with our ACS students in our award-winning curriculum – and make sure to pass on the knowledge to others! 😉

1. Role Playing Games

What defines a Role Playing Game (RPG)? It is a game where a player takes on the role of a fictional character in a fictional world – fantasy being the common thread. Most RPGs have character growth and advancement, coupled with an entrancing plot that immerses players into the lore and the world of the game [1]. A good RPG is balanced, will keep gamers hooked for hours, and leave a lasting impression.

For the more mature gamers out there (like your parents, teachers, and maybe even yourself), big names like Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, World of Warcraft, and more old school games come to mind when they think of RPGs. Now, we have more recent or remastered titles such as the new Doom, Divinity Original Sin 2, Monster Hunter: World and The Witcher 3.

Snapshot of Online HBL class
Snapshot of Online Home-Based Learning class for ACS

In Python Choose Your Own Adventure, our ACS students learn about RPGs. They get to code their character creation, equipment upgrades and boss fights. Classes also touch on game design topics, like balancing their games. This refers to tweaking a game to be interesting, deep, and fair [2]. Game balance affects battles and a person’s progression in a game.

Imagine being stuck on the tutorial and unable to level up? What about reaching the maximum level in 2 hours and there is nothing else for you to do? RPGs with the level and experience system usually make starting levels easier to level up and almost impossible at higher levels. Without balance, people will quickly get bored of the game.

2. Global Positioning System

When modelling an app after Healthy 365, our ACS students learn about UI/UX design and tap on the many different sensors found in our phones. Do you know how our phones are able to find our location or track our number of steps?

We’ve all heard of GPS. The Global Positioning System (GPS) used to be a satellite-based radio navigation system owned by the United States government [3]. When the project was initiated, the 24-satellite system became fully functional in 1993 and was used to perform trilateration to pinpoint your exact location on Earth. Trilateration measures distance. Your position would be determined by the intersection of multiple intersections of GPS signals [4].

When it comes to tracking our steps, Abraham Louis Perrelet is the brilliant mind behind the pedometer [5]. Through the years, multiple improvements have been made to the pedometer. From the ancient versions using mechanical switches to the current day’s implementation with Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors and sophisticated software.

3. Quiz Gameshow

Come on down, it’s time for the quiz gameshow! Our ACS students get to code their own quizzes and learn more about programming, such as extensibility and the incremental build model. We also include fun facts, like this one… Legend has it that “quiz” is actually a very recent word created in the late 1700s. The story behind the word is a bizarre one and here is how it goes.

A wager was made in 1791 by Richard Daly in Dublin. He wagered that within 48 hours he could make a nonsense word be spoken throughout Dublin, one with no meaning and not derived from any language. He sent his employees to go around Dublin chalking the word “Quiz” everywhere and soon this word became the talk of the town which meant that Daly won the bet and this caused the word to become commonly used.

Of course, this story is not 100% factual and there are many sources that dispute the truth of this story [6]. So for now, let’s just say this is a folktale – and an interesting one too.

Our ACS student exploring the course
Our ACS student exploring the course

Now that you’re armed with all of this cool information, spread the joy of learning by sharing this with your friends and family! 

Come onboard our Advanced Computer Scientists’ programme – where we help to build your child’s aspiration of becoming the next future leader in technology!


Join the Coding Lab family! Click here to sign up for our monthly newsletters.

How do our Python Heroes perfect their craft? In our Python Perfect classes (S101P, S111P and S121P), we utilise an individualised learning method to ensure that students are able to fully internalise and apply the concepts that they have learnt. 

Coding Lab’s S100P is a series of Python Perfect classes taken by students who have completed the respective core foundational classes (Python 1: S101, Python 2: S111 and Python 3: S121). These classes ultimately promote independent studying and reinforce core programming concepts.

You might be wondering: what exactly is individualised learning?

Image of S100P class

The key ingredient of it is the shift of responsibility for the learning process from the tutor to the student [1]. The entire process involves students acquiring an understanding of their learning, being motivated to learn, and collaborating with tutors to structure their learning environment. Our students’ progress therefore depends on how motivated they are in learning and how much they want to achieve.

This method of learning does not mean that students are to work alone – tutors have a huge part to play as mentors in enabling and supporting individualised learning. They ensure that students are on the right track, motivate them and continually ignite their passion for coding through the wonders of S100P.

How do our teens benefit from Individualised Learning?

Our Python Heroes in our S100P series of classes hone their Python power with lab work. This lab work mimics practical modules in universities (which make up a high percentage of the overall grade!) – so if you’re looking to take on computing or Python in university, it’s important to get started early and lay those firm foundations! Our tutors also provide term reports for students to refer to so that they can better understand the areas they need to improve on and work towards nailing those concepts down. 

Every Python Perfect class has 10 levels of coding challenges – and each student will be mentally stimulated by the challenges at their individual levels. Our coding challenges hail from a wide variety of domains ranging from Banking and Finance to Engineering, Mathematics and even Medicine, enabling students to appreciate the applicability of Python in the real world

Students can advance as quickly as possible on their own with the effort that they put in, and also have 24/7 access to our online system to submit their answers to practice questions. Afterwards, our keen tutors will grade their questions and guide them in achieving code efficiency during class. 

Students can submit their answers any time on our online system!
Image of Python Perfect class
Always an enjoyable time in our S100P class!

“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.”

– Josephine, 14, Raffles Girls’ School

Our Python Perfect courses typically span across 40 hours (2 Terms of Weekly classes: 20 x 2 hours). Most students are mainly able to complete 6 levels in 40 hours, but there are also very dedicated students who fast tracked 10 levels in 6 hours – like Wang Chen! Here’s what he has to say about our classes:

“The classes are engaging and I was able to learn things like Stack Overflow, which further added on to my coding knowledge!”

– Wang Chen, 14, Dunman High

(successfully completed 10 levels of coding challenges in 6 hours!)

As students level up, the challenges gradually get more difficult. Our experienced Python Perfect tutors will help students to reach their fullest potential through giving out hints, providing them with help and guiding them through what they’re struggling with. A signature trademark of the program is that students are not given answers, they are encouraged to find the answers to the challenges on their own, enabling full understanding and application of concepts, self-confidence and independent learning.

Image of Ryan and class
Ryan (top left) with his Python students in an online class.

“In Python Perfect classes, students have to apply what they have learnt from the Python courses into the coding challenges. The more they practice, the better they get at coding! I’d often challenge my students to pen out their strategy before coding. I’d get them to go back to the basics and ensure the students revisit the fundamentals and thoroughly understand them.”

– Ryan Wong, Educator

Coding Lab believes that individualised learning will help in cultivating a spirit of lifelong learning in students – not only do our Python Perfect classes help students self-study the core programming concepts – it also reminds them that they are responsible for their own learning. When students own their learning, it sticks with them! 

Begin your Python journey by clicking here!


Join the Coding Lab family! Click here to sign up for our monthly newsletters.

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

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

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

1. Know your papers!

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


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

Click the button below for the answer.

The answer is B.

There are two papers in the GCE O Level Computing examination.
Paper One is 2 hours, while Paper Two is 2 hours 30 minutes.

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

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

Click Here for Overall Breakdown of Papers

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


What exactly are your papers testing you for?

Click the button below for the answer.

The answer is A, C and D.

The explanation is found below.

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

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

Paper 1 Analysis

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

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

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

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


Paper 2 Analysis

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

Breakdown of Paper 2 - Pie Chart

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


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

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

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

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

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


The Rules of Flowcharting

Revise the rules involved when constructing the program flowcharts! 


What are the four common symbols in flowcharting?

Click the button below for the answer.

The answer is all of the above.

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

2. Revise and practice consistently

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

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

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

How do you remember your formula sheet?

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

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


    Space out your retrieval practice throughout your study sessions.

    Self-test and retest yourself repeatedly in the days or months leading up to your exam.

    Actively engage with your material, such as by making notes or doing questions that require applying what you’ve memorised.


Tracking Your Progress

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

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

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

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


Modules covered so far and Level of Understanding:

    Module 1. Data and Information


    Module 2. Systems and Communications*


    Module 3. Abstraction and Algorithms


    Module 4. Programming

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

3. Analysing Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample Question table

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

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

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

Step 1

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

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


Step 2

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

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


Step 3

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

Sample code:
Remainder = Total % 10


Step 4

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

Sample code:
IF Remainder == 0:
    OUTPUT 0
ELSE:
    OUTPUT 10 - Remainder


Full sample code

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

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

Bonus: Create a cheatsheet

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Stay in the loop with Coding Lab news! Click here to subscribe.

Did you know that our students learn a smorgasbord of fun and interesting things in the wide variety of courses available right here at Coding Lab? We want to share the joy of learning with you too! 

Our Young Computer Scientists graduates holding their certificates
Our YCS students happily receiving their certificates!

With 12 different badges for students to collect and advance their coding abilities, it’s no wonder our P11S Young Computer Scientists (YCS) students always have a whale of a time learning and exploring the diverse fields that coding can be applied to (like Animation and Movies, Augmented Reality, Music, Robotics, etc) in our classes! 

Our YCS course – which is suitable for ages 7 to 9 – covers a good mix of 3 groups of classes (hardware-based learning, applied learning and subject-based learning) which will broaden students’ exposure and understanding of the power of computational thinking. 

Our hardware-based learning classes involve the use of unique tools like Micro:bit, the pocket-sized computer transforming how kids learn digital skills. Our applied learning classes teach students how coding can be applied – like artificial intelligence and machine learning! We’ve also got subject-based learning classes involving Maths, Physics and Biology, which will also pique students’ interests in coding as they get to reinforce what they’ve learnt in school! 

Check out these 3 ‘Did You Know’ facts that we share with our YCS students across their different classes – and make sure to pass on the knowledge to others! You know what they say, sharing is caring. 😉

1. Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a blended image. 

In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) system at Harvard University [1]. Now, there are numerous applications of AR – like in the military, navigation, sightseeing, medical, entertainment, advertising and gaming! 

This advancement in technology has brought numerous benefits in education, one of them being further enhancing students’ visual and auditory skills as they immerse in a digital construction of their surrounding [2]. It makes learning so much more fun! In YCS’s Augmented Reality class, students learn to create AR games – just like this Piano one! 😎

2. Physics:

We all know that what goes up must come down. Gravity is the force that keeps us grounded on earth, and it is also this force that makes things fall to the ground. The bigger (and heavier) an object is, the stronger its gravity. The moon is 1/6 the size of the earth and thus the moon’s gravity is 1/6 of that of earth’s. This means that you can jump six times as high on the moon than on earth [3]!

In YCS’s Physics classes, students learn to create fidget spinners, spinning wheels and projectile motion games, among others… As they get acquainted with Physics by seeing how matter interacts with energy and forces, they’ll start to do higher-level thinking that enables them to see the big picture in the world around them [4]!

3. Artificial Intelligence:

Some of us are better at face recognition than others. In the last decade or so, it’s become apparent that around 2% of the population is born with a severe face-recognition impairment (known as congenital prosopagnosia) [5]. There is a similar proportion of ‘super-recognisers’ with unusually exceptional face-recognition skills, and the rest of us are on a spectrum in between.

In YCS’s Artificial Intelligence class, students get to dabble in machine learning to create a ‘face unlock’ system. It’s almost like they’re recreating Face ID! With an early understanding of this technology faucet, students will get to breed their creativity and develop their imaginations as they take a step closer to becoming a technology innovator.

Now that you’ve learned some cool information, make sure to spread the joy of learning by sharing this post with your close friends and family! 

Hop on board the Young Computer Scientists’ train – where we help to build your child’s aspiration of becoming the next future leader in technology!


Join the Coding Lab family! Click here to sign up for our monthly newsletters.