Did you catch Tiny Thinkers at the National Library Board’s (NLB) kidsREAD 15th Anniversary Carnival?

Thinzar, the President of Tiny Thinkers, explaining the Junior Computational Thinking kits to the children at booth.
Thinzar, the President of Tiny Thinkers, explaining the Junior Computational Thinking kits to children at the booth.

On 9th November, Tiny Thinkers was invited to celebrate the 15th anniversary of NLB’s kidsREAD programme. Tiny Thinkers had a booth for children to kickstart their Computational Thinking journey with our Junior Computational Thinking kit. The kit, developed by Tiny Thinkers and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), allows children to plan a character’s story and also included hands-on activities for parents to complete with their children at home.

President Halimah Yacob with (from left) Ms Low Tze Hui, Manager of Infocomm Media Development Authority and her son, Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, Candice, Co-Founder of Coding Lab,
Our Tiny Thinkers team (in orange), Coding Lab Co-Founder Candice (third from left), and Amazon Web Services volunteers (in blue) taking a photo with President Halimah Yacob and Ms Low Tze Hui (far left), Manager, Infocomm Media Development Authority, and her son, Luke.

Thank you to President Halimah Yacob, Mr S Iswaran (Minister for Communications and Information), and Ms Low Tze Hui, for stopping by our booth to find out more about Tiny Thinkers and our goals for the children of Singapore!

Luke showing President Halimah Yacob what he learned from the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit. (Source: President Halimah's Facebook page)
Luke even had the opportunity to show President Halimah Yacob what he learned from the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit. (Source: President Halimah Yacob’s Facebook, MCI Photo by Lee Jia Wen)

Tiny Thinkers is proud to have been able to collaborate with NLB to reach out to more parents about the importance of Computational Thinking in today’s digital economy. This is especially relevant as this year’s kidsREAD programme was focused on promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.

A volunteer from Amazon Web Services guiding two young children through the Junior Computational Kits.
A volunteer from Amazon Web Services guiding two young children through the Junior Computational Kits.

Throughout the year, we worked closely with NLB to hold free one-hour workshops titled ‘Tiny Thinkers On The Go’ at Tampines and Jurong Regional Libraries, where our Junior Computational Thinking kits were also distributed. We hope that participants of all our Tiny Thinkers events enjoyed completing the kit activities and that this jumpstarts their interests in computational thinking!

Thank you to all the Amazon Web Services (AWS) volunteers from AWS InCommunities and Connect@Amazon for collaborating with us for this event!
Thank you to all the Amazon Web Services (AWS) volunteers for collaborating with us for this event!

We also want to thank our Amazon Web Services volunteers who helped us to guide the children and spread the word about computational thinking among the event’s participants! We couldn’t have reached out to as many people without their assistance, persistence and love.

Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, dropped by our booth to have a chat with Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, and our Amazon Web Services volunteers.
Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, also dropped by our booth to have a chat with Thinzar, President of Tiny Thinkers, and our Amazon Web Services volunteers.

Tiny Thinkers will also continue to collaborate with NLB next year, where free Junior Computational Thinking Kits will be given out to 3,500 participants of the kidsREAD programme to equip them with the tools to be digitally-ready.

More children trying their hand at our Junior Computational Thinking kits!
More children trying their hand at our Junior Computational Thinking kits!

If you weren’t able to get a kit this year, fret not! We know that as parents, we all want to give our children a headstart in this digital age. Do keep a lookout on our Tiny Thinkers page (or Facebook page) for updates on what we’re doing and on our future events!

Another Amazon Web Services volunteer assisting participants in Computational Thinking.
Another Amazon Web Services volunteer assisting participants in Computational Thinking.

2020 definitely looks like an exciting year ahead for our Tiny Thinkers!

About kidsREAD
A nationwide reading programme launched in 2004, it encourages positive attitudes towards reading and aims to inculcate good reading habits among young Singaporeans of all races, and especially those from low-income families.

For more information, please click here.

About Tiny Thinkers
A non-profit campaign by Coding Lab that aims to empower and educate parents to kickstart their little one’s journey in Computational Thinking.

For more information, please click here.

Coding Lab was invited to be a part of Project We Care Garden Party at the Istana on 1st September 2019. Our founders and volunteer tutors were on-hand and eager to impart their coding knowledge to people of all ages at the booth.

Coding is for everyone of any age!
Coding is for everyone of any age!

The bi-annual social wellness event by the People’s Association reached out to 1,500 beneficiaries from low-income families, the less privileged children, and the elderly. Visitors to Coding Lab’s booth were treated to a programming feast as they got to code Photon robots to ‘eat’ mooncakes, ketupats, putu mayams and cupcakes (Each delicacy representing one of the major ethnic groups in Singapore!).

Our Founders with Mr Chan Chun Sing, Deputy Chairman of the People's Association and Minister for Trade and Industry, at the Project We Care event.
Our Founders with Mr Chan Chun Sing, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association and Minister for Trade and Industry, at the Project We Care event.

Coding Lab has been working to bring programming to communities as part of this initiative. Our volunteers have taught Python to youths and conducted workshops on app usage for the elderly. We are proud to do our part in spreading digital literacy in Singapore.

It’s Coding Lab’s honour to be a part of Project We Care Garden Party at the Istana, where we were able to showcase and share with others the joy of coding and programming. Thank you to the People’s Association for giving us the opportunity to participate in this meaningful initiative to give back to the community – we can’t wait for our next corporate social responsibility event!

About Project We Care

Started in 2012 by People’s Association, the project aims to rally businesses to contribute to meaningful causes in the community and to encourage volunteerism. The bi-annual Garden Party @ Istana partners with corporations to bring joy to beneficiaries through fun and engaging activities.

To find out more about Project We Care, click here.

Coding Lab and Tiny Thinkers were at the inaugural Smart Nation & U event on 30th November and 1st December to spread the coding word to families through fun. If you weren’t there, here’s the rundown on the things that happened!

Wai Yee, our Operations Manager, sharing with a parent what we do here at Coding Lab.
Wai Yee, our Operations Manager, sharing with a parent what we do here at Coding Lab.

The collaborative two-day event between Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was held at Downtown East to share how new technologies are transforming the ways that we work, live and play. Indeed, the future is digital and it is essential to spark interests in tech – especially in our children.

A participant using a micro:bit to play a Scratch game.
A participant using a micro:bit to play a Scratch game.

Coding Lab engaged children with our wireless micro:bits, which were connected to Scratch games on the laptop. This gave them a peek into what we do in our Young Computer Scientists (for ages 7 to 9) and Advanced Computer Scientists (for ages 10 to 12) classes.

Lakshmi, Head of Marketing at Tiny Thinkers, getting parents and their children acquainted with the workshop and tips on how they can navigate in a Smart Nation.
Lakshmi, Head of Marketing at Tiny Thinkers, getting parents and their children acquainted with the workshop and sharing tips on how they can navigate in a Smart Nation.

On the other hand, Tiny Thinkers held free Tiny Thinkers On The Go workshops that distributed free Junior Computational Thinking kits for exciting parent-child activities.

Parents working on the Junior Computational Thinking kits alongside their child, and with the help of a Smart Nation Ambassador.
Parents working on the Junior Computational Thinking kits alongside their child, and with the help of a Smart Nation Ambassador.

We would like to thank our participants for joining us at our workshops, as well as the Smart Nation Ambassadors who were on-hand and actively facilitated learning among parents and children!

Coding has no age limit – we shared information on coding with people of all ages!
Coding has no age limit – we shared information on coding with people of all ages!

Coding Lab and Tiny Thinkers are pleased to work with Smart Nation Singapore once again at the Smart Nation & U event, to move towards the goal of Singapore becoming a world-class city with a leading economy powered by digital innovation. We look forward to the next time that we get to join forces again!

About Smart Nation Singapore
It is a nationwide initiative by the Singapore Government to harness the power of technology to build a Digital Economy, Digital Government and Digital Society. It was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2014, who described the goal and future of this nation-building initiative as a Singapore “where we can create possibilities for ourselves beyond what we imagined possible”.

For more information, please click here.

Remember Tiny Thinkers and their creative, fun ways to integrate computational thinking into your child’s everyday lives? Well good news, they’re back stronger than ever with new and improved activities rolled out – Now extending their outreach not just to parents, but also formal early childhood institutions island-wide, with over 3,500 kits!

Early last month, the Tiny Thinkers team was invited down to the annual Early Childhood Conference (ECC) 2019 to share about the importance of computational thinking at the pre-school level. Amongst an array of activities at the ECC exhibition fair, Tiny Thinkers also conducted workshops for mums and dads to try out their exciting games with their children.

During the first half of the conference, IMDA Deputy Director Foo Hui Hui shared with early childhood educators on how preschools could step up and prepare young children to be future-ready with the award-winning Play Maker programme.

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IMDA Deputy Director Hui Hui demonstrating one of their educational games 

Coding Lab, the team behind Tiny Thinkers, then followed up with an informational sharing on the importance of computational thinking in today’s tech-led economy and how to kickstart its development within the comforts of the home in a simple, fun manner.

Coding Lab Co-founder Candice Wang also highlighted the shift in our economy towards one that is driven by Artificial Intelligence (A.I), algorithms and automation, urging educators and parents alike to start to prepare themselves from an early age.

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Coding Lab co-Founder Candice Wang stressing the importance of starting young 

She then went to share some market research findings, which illustrated that whilst more than 60% of the parents surveyed acknowledged the importance of learning coding,  an alarming 95% do not have the knowledge or expertise to impart computational thinking skills to their children.

Candice then debunked the elusiveness of computational thinking with two simple ways to guide young learners aged 4 to 7 – through every-day activities (eg. Packing your schoolbag) that require little or no cost, and through the Tiny Thinkers Take Home Activity Kit.

Armed with the expertise of our tutors and Skool4Kidz on one hand and generous support from IMDA, Our SG FundNexus, and Amazon on the other, Coding Lab and Tiny Thinkers is pleased to present new games such as Solve the Puzzle (Pattern Recognition), Build a House (Abstraction) and a full-fledged board-game (Keeping Singapore Strong) in their well-received Take Home Activity Kit.

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Educators trying out the Tiny Thinkers activities 

On the 2nd day of the ECC exhibition, the Tiny Thinkers team carried out a series of workshops for parents to try out 3 of their games (Robotibby, Solve The Puzzle, Build a House) and take home the Activity Kit for free!

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Thinzar, the Head of Tiny Thinkers sharing about the importance of Computational Thinking 

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Kids figuring out how to bring Tibby to the banana

IMG_3788 solve the puzzle

Putting their pattern recognition skills to the test 

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Building houses with shapes 

So exciting, don’t you think? We at the Coding Lab, Tiny Thinkers, educators, parents and children alike all had so much fun! Stay tuned for more goodies and future workshops held by Tiny Thinkers by following them here.

Congratulations to our students for achieving the Best Coding Award at the Microsoft National Minecraft Cup 2019 in Tokyo, Japan! Their winning project CodeTropolis, was selected out of more than 130 participating entries.

The transnational team consisted of students from Coding Lab Japan and Coding Lab Singapore, with classes conducted by Coding Lab Japan’s Director of Education, who taught Singapore students via a series of webcam sessions – harnessing the marvels of today’s technology.

Students in Singapore attending one of the Minecraft Cup sessions via videoconferencing
Students in Singapore attending one of the Minecraft Cup sessions via videoconferencing

 

Coding Lab Student representatives attending the Awards ceremony in Microsoft, Japan
Coding Lab Student representatives attending the awards ceremony in Microsoft, Japan

Our students in Singapore have showcased tremendous growth ⁠⁠—coding skills, teamwork, creativity⁠⁠— over the course of our transnational Preparatory Classes with so many takeaways including a broader horizon, as well as the friendships formed with their teammates from Coding Lab Japan.

Students with Coding Lab Japan Instructors and Minecraft Cup Managing Committee
Students with Brian – Director, Coding Lab Japan, and one of the judges from the Minecraft Cup Managing Committee

What a great result for all the hard work put in by the students, tutors and everyone from the team, shining bright on the global stage!

Winner of Best Coding Award - Minecraft Cup 2019, organised by Microsoft, Japan
Winner of Best Coding Award – Microsoft National Minecraft Cup 2019, organised by Microsoft, Japan
A snippet of the team's winning code
A snippet of the team’s winning code

“You can do anything you set your mind to.” – Benjamin Franklin

About the Minecraft Cup 2019 National Tournament

Children living in the 21st century need to acquire the skills necessary to live in uncertain times, such as problem-solving skills and collaboration. In Japan, programming education has become compulsory at elementary schools since 2020. This competition aims to foster programming thinking through programming experiences, and an attitude to create better society by utilising the work of computers and software to find and solve familiar problems.

The theme is “I and my town with sports facilities”, which aligns with Japan hosting international sports events such as the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 the Tokyo Olympic Paralympic Games.

The competition is jointly organised by the secretariat ICT CONNECT 21, Universal Awareness Center, and Microsoft Japan.

Coding Lab has been appointed as a Training Partner for Shopee’s I’m the Best Coder challenge.

On Sunday, 22nd September 2019, we conducted training for more than 60 participants of the challenge, who got to hone their skills on Python.

Our instructors for the workshop
Our instructors for the workshop
Our Founder, Mr Foo, giving the opening address for workshop
Our Founder, Yong Ning, giving the opening address to participants
Participants attending the training
Participants attending the training
Group Photo with all the participants
Group Photo with all the participants

Wishing them all the best for the competition!

ABOUT THE COMPETITION

I’m the Best Coder! Challenge 2019 is a one-day data analytics competition, open to all students and professionals.

The competition consists of 2 rounds of data analysis problems designed by Shopee tech teams. Participants must analyse the dataset, draw insightful conclusions and solve the problems in a specified amount of time.

Not only will participants get a chance to code to generate insights that solve real industry problems, this competition will also provide them with an opportunity to test their coding skills and understand the importance of data analytics skills required in Shopee.

As an international coding school with a global presence, Coding Lab strongly believes in and actively sources for opportunities and exposure for our students both locally and internationally. 

We would like to congratulate to our award winners — Adam, Anthony, Joshua and Aaron — for their outstanding global performance at the MIT App Inventor Summit 2019!

– Best Poster Award, 2nd Prize (Adam, 12, Anthony, 12, Joshua, 10)
– Hackathon, Beginner Category, 2nd Prize (Adam, 12)
– Hackathon, Beginner Category, 3rd Prize (Anthony, 12, Aaron, 13)
– Hackathon, Advanced Category, 2nd Prize (Joshua, 10)

It all started with their poster being selected for presentation, out of a global pool of applicants. Looking at the high volume of ride-hailing trips globally, the boys thought of an app that would allow ride-hailing companies to objectively measure their drivers’ performance and safety profile. “Roadsafe – A Better Driving Initiative” was a novel idea conceived out of the need for improving passenger safety. Under the guidance of their tutors, the team set about working judiciously on their app and poster for the conference, which utilised Data Analytics to build a mathematical model to rate drivers’ performance using data collected from mobile phone sensors.

Adam, Joshua and Aaron at Coding Lab's App Inventor class in Singapore
Adam, Joshua and Aaron at Coding Lab’s App Inventor class in Singapore
Anthony attending a lesson at Coding Lab Singapore
Anthony attending a lesson at Coding Lab Singapore

Our tutors then flew together with them all the way to the MIT campus in USA where they clinched Top 3 awards in BOTH Beginner and Advanced Categories, a FIRST for Singapore! To top it off, these boys were also one of the youngest participants at the events — talk about talent. They have truly flown the Singapore flag high and have done us SO proud!

Anthony, Adam, and Joshua presenting their poster which won the 2nd prize at the competition
Anthony, Adam, and Joshua presenting their poster which won the 2nd prize at the competition – a FIRST for Singapore
Poster Set-up at MIT Media Lab, overlooking the Charles River
Poster Set-up at the MIT Media Lab, overlooking the Charles River

With Nature, Environmental Issues and Human Ecology as the hackathon theme, clinching 2nd place for the Advanced category was Joshua’s recycling app which informs what’s recyclable and what’s not. 

Joshua presenting his app onstage
Joshua presenting his app on stage
Joshua collecting his certificate for 2nd prize, Advanced Category
Joshua collecting his certificate for 2nd prize, Advanced Category

Coming in 2nd and 3rd place for the Beginner category was Adam’s utility app which calculates shower water usage based on water pressure, and Anthony and Aaron’s informative app which educates users on landfills and composting. 

Anthony and Adam sharing their projects excitedly with other participants at the MIT App Inventor Summit, USA
Anthony and Adam sharing their projects excitedly with other participants at the MIT App Inventor Summit, USA
Aaron and Anthony on stage to collect their certificates
Aaron and Anthony on stage to collect their certificates

As outstanding graduates of our App Inventor and Advanced Computer Scientists courses, It’s that spirit of innovation that makes them second to none. 

Adam, Anthony and Joshua receiving their award certificates from Mark Friedman, one of the original developers of MIT App Inventor
Receiving their award certificates from Mark Friedman, one of the original developers of MIT App Inventor
Tutor Mona with her protégés
Tutor Mona with her protégés
The ecstatic boys having won the 2nd prize for Best Poster Award
The ecstatic boys having won the 2nd prize for Best Poster Award – doing Singapore proud!

Time and again, our students have shown their mettle and these students have indeed allowed their passion for programming to shine through on the global stage, doing Singapore proud. Keep up the impressive work, boys!

A huge round of applause to our Champions, Leah, Ziv and Aahan, for winning 1st Place at the CodeXtremeApps (CXA) 2019 Junior Category, triumphing more than 30 other teams  — We couldn’t be more proud! 

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Aahan and Leah on stage (Not in photo: Ziv) 

“I feel ecstatic winning the top prize in this competition. The training from my classes at Coding Lab has prepared me well for the competition. It has guided me on how to solve the problems creatively.” said Ziv, still in awe from the results. The 12-year old was appointed as the group’s team leader due to his impressive performance shown at his weekly classes at Coding Lab. He has been attending Coding Lab classes for more than a year now, and consistently worked hard to refine and improve his code, which put him in good stead for the competition.

“He’s really good at coding.” quotes his tutor. “The games he creates in class are really exciting.”

But of course, teamwork makes the dream work. Without the combined strengths of all three teammates — the team would have not been as formidable.

“I feel like the training I got in my classes at Coding Lab helped me a lot in the CXA competition and feel very happy, privileged and grateful to have taken part,” said Leah. Leah often brings fresh and exciting concepts to the table for discussion.

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Leah presenting their winning project 

Last but not least, their winning project could not have been as polished without Aahan, who has been attending Coding Lab classes since the tender age of 7, and would skip going to birthday parties just so he could attend coding class every week without fail, which he has done for the past 2 years. The team’s youngest member contributed his knowledge gained from our Young Computer Scientists classes and was a critical part of the team.

It’s so rewarding seeing how far they’ve come since joining our introductory courses, all 3 started from our Scratch 1 course and progressed through our curriculum roadmap with regular classes; consistent practice makes perfect!— these students have displayed immense potential with quick progression and regular practice through our courses of varying difficulty. Keep it up, young talents!

1080 EDIT 68366111_2052502331522740_2857754510137229312_o Group photo with other Junior Category contestants 

About Code::XtremeApps

The Code::XtremeApps:: (CXA) hackathon is organised annually by IMDA to challenge minds and inspire innovative solutions for current issues that affect us. The theme this year was “Digital Transformation for a Better World”, and the focus was on improving the sustainability of the world we live in with new innovative and transformative digital solutions.

Participants addressed real-world challenges related to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

A huge thank you to The Straits Times for the recent two news features!

Cover Photo - ST
Cover Photo – Straits Times

Click here and also here to read more, or simply scroll down for the full story.

Given the immense benefits of coding — tenacity, logical thinking, and a creative outlet for expression — it’s no surprise how parents and schools are all hopping onto the bandwagon. Indeed, we at Coding Lab cater to the interests and needs of children: It’s not just about coding but lifelong skills from proper computer habits to critical thinking and creativity.

As always, the team at Coding Lab continues to strive to deliver a holistic environment for learning and discovery.

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Coding more creative than essay writing

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Thank you Capital 95.8FM for having us over to talk about Singapore’s digital landscape! With the rolling out of mandatory coding classes for upper primary students and Digital Clinics for Seniors, we shared our insights on these new initiatives and the general public’s response to the government’s efforts in bid of a SmartNation.

As the interview was conducted in Mandarin, we present to you the translated radio transcript in English for easy reading below:

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DJ Lingzhi: We are headed towards our goal as a SmartNation. The government is encouraging all citizens – young and old – to set forth this digital path, and many SMEs are also jumping on the digital bandwagon. Prospective Primary 4 to 6 students are now required to learn computational thinking, with mandatory coding classes pushed out from next year onwards. And as for secondary and tertiary students, 10 000 of them will get hold of the opportunities to learn cybersecurity skills and access relevant jobs. The old are not left behind either – Digital Clinics for Seniors are held islandwide to provide 1-to-1 help on basic digital skills such as using smartphones and its associated functions. PMETs are encouraged to volunteer for such activities at our local libraries and help the nation advance digitally, together as one. How exciting is that? If you have a child currently in school, do call and share with us your thoughts on these new policies.

DJ Lingzhi: In today’s digital age, what is the most valuable skill to learn? Have you caught up? On a global scale, how does Singapore rank? Are we keeping up with other advanced countries?

We’ve invited two experts in the field for today’s discussion – Foo Yong Ning, founder of educational centre Coding Lab, and Teow-Hin, NUS Computing professor and CEO of SecureAge Technology.

DJ Lingzhi: What are your opinions on Singapore’s digital landscape?

Teow-Hin: Currently, Singapore is a little behind in the schools’ aspect because they do not really go into the specifics in teaching students how to code, which to me is a fundamental skill.
If you do not understand how to code, you will only have a surface-level understanding of computers.

DJ LuLin: Coding is a very complicated thing to me. I first learned to code through a course in secondary school – we used a language called QBasic. I felt that it was very difficult and gave up after 3 months of classes. I felt that it wasn’t necessary to learn these since I’m not going to be developing software myself in the future. Why do I have to learn when I can just know how to use the software?

Teow-Hin: To put it another way, coding is like learning to type. It’s a basic skill of the digital future. Many kinds of jobs require some coding knowledge, and this is increasingly so as we move further down the digital path. Henceforth, if you are unfamiliar with coding, you may face difficulties in the workplace and in general.

DJ Lingzhi: Since a main function of education is to groom future talents for the workforce, having exposure to coding from primary school is particularly crucial in the digital age. While it is commendable that we are starting compulsory 10-hour enrichment classes for upper primary students, let’s hear it from Coding Lab on whether it’s sufficient for establishing a foundation in coding.

Yong Ning: I feel that 10-hours is very short. If you want to master coding, you would definitely require much more time. These 10 hours of classes are more to expose the students to the field. For example, it takes 4 long years for university graduates to attain a strong foundation in programming. Mastering coding within a 10-hour-long enrichment course is not very realistic.

DJ Lingzhi: Yes, it’s a good start for more kids to gain access to the wonders of coding, cultivate an interest in the field, and perhaps even sign up for more classes in the future.

DJ Lingzhi: So Coding Lab, you seem to be ahead of the game, with coding classes since 4 years ago?

Yong Ning: We can be considered so in Singapore, though other countries are definitely way more ahead.

DJ Lingzhi: Do Singapore parents actually send their kids to coding classes?

Yong Ning: Yes of course. More parents are recognising the importance of coding and computational thinking. We don’t learn math or science to only become mathematicians or scientists. Likewise, the benefits of learning to code, particularly computational thinking, extends beyond computers and will give your child an edge over others in the future. Computational thinking is all around us – For example, they are present in business processes. They are also used in finance, where computer programs revolutionize methods of calculation and management. There is also algorithmic trading…

DJ Lingzhi: How about the ordinary folk who live ordinary lives and do ordinary work? How relevant is coding in our everyday lives?

Teow-Hin: In my opinion, if you have some understanding of coding, you would see start to things in a new perspective. You’ll think, can this task be automated? Can we computerize these operations? Not only does this help businesses to maximise efficiency, but it also helps reduce the need for manpower. This doesn’t only apply to entrepreneurs – it’s good for any worker to know. You increase your productivity, get higher pay, apply for vacations…

DJ Lingzhi: Hahaha yes. We’re very happy to have with us Coding Lab and CEO Professor Teow Hin. We’ll be going for a short break and will be right back.

DJ Lingzhi: Dear parents, if you are still mulling over what career path you should pave for your kids, our SecureAge CEO may have important news to share with you. We all know that to be a doctor or lawyer, one must attain straight As and surpass strict requirements. However, in today’s day and age, there is an up and rising new field which also requires straight As. May the CEO please share with us.

Teow-Hin: Yes, in today’s circumstances, if you have no straight As, it would be difficult to get into computer science courses in universities like NUS. One main reason is that the pay for computer science graduates is very high – even higher than lawyers, though still lower than doctors. It’s already higher than a lot of fields. So from a student’s perspective, if you want to earn a lot of money after graduation, it’s good to go down the programming path. But most importantly, you really need to have an interest. If you don’t have the interest, it will be very tiresome and difficult. If you have the interest, coding is just like playing computer games. It’s very fun. It’s like playing computer games and earning a lot of money at the same time. Why not?

DJ Lingzhi: Haha I bet a lot of parents listening to this are thinking: My child keeps playing computer games instead of studying. So computer games are actually like a foundation for coding? Wow!

DJ LuLin: Recently I’ve been noticing that a lot of programmers working here are actually foreign talents. Is the government also hoping to cultivate locally bred talents by increasing the general population’s access to coding? Is the coding curriculum in schools enough? Are people really interested in coding?

Teow-Hin: For the past few years, the MOE has been pressuring universities to increase university intake, which has now increased by leaps and bounds. Looking at it from a macro perspective, the demand for the I.T field is increasing because, after all, our world is increasingly digitalised. Everything requires programming, and as more and more things become automated, naturally we would require more programmers. It’s that simple!

DJ Lingzhi: Will there ever be a problem of obsolescence, with the speed at which technology is advancing? Will the languages graduates learn in university become obsolete after 4 years?
Will university students go through 4 years of studying, only to realise after graduation that the languages they’ve learned are obsolete?

Teow-Hin: No because as mentioned previously, once you’ve learned a coding language, you’ll find it easier to pick up other languages. So this learned skill will never become obsolete.

DJ Lingzhi: Yes, we always emphasize lifelong learning. You don’t stop learning even in the working world. I feel that it’s good for children to start young and establish a foundation early. So is it considered late if we only begin coding at 7 years old? Can 5 years old children code too?

Yong Ning: We accept kids as young as 4 to start learning code. Different age groups learn different concepts and content.

DJ Lingzhi: So what do 4-year-old students learn?

Yong Ning: What’s most important about coding is computational thinking. It’s basically logical thinking. At the preschool level, students mainly learn how to give instructions. Because after all, coding is about giving computers instructions clearly. At the primary school level, 7 to 12-year-olds would move on to using drag and drop block-based programming platforms such as Scratch to master computational thinking.

DJ Lingzhi: Do you need to be particularly gifted to learn to code? How long does it take, let’s say, an ordinary kid to learn to program an app or simple game? Is it a long, arduous process?

Yong Ning: 20 hours of lessons is sufficient for kids to create their own simple program and/or games, using intuitive, child-friendly platforms such as Scratch and MIT App Inventor.

DJ Lingzhi: So 10, 20 hours is actually sufficient to learn how to program simple games?

Yong Ning: Yes very simple apps and games, not those that you find on the market haha. These kind of platforms are more for them to master computational thinking in a fun and engaging way.

DJ Lingzhi: Yeah if kids could learn to code within just 10 hours, NUS graduates wouldn’t need to study for 4 years. Hahaha. It seems like secondary and tertiary school students are also starting to touch on network security-related subjects too. Let’s have the CEO share with us more about this topic.

Teow-Hin: Yes, everyone should learn about cybersecurity. In an age where everything is digitalized, any information can be hacked and easily retrieved – one can be at risk of financial losses and damage of reputation. Hence cybersecurity is just as important as coding in this digital economy. We should all have at least a basic understanding of cybersecurity so we won’t fall for traps laid by hackers.

DJ Lingzhi: All the elders tuning into this talk show may be thinking, “I’m already so old, why must I still learn about cybersecurity and coding?” As we move towards the goal of a SmartNation, we can’t leave anyone behind; we must move forward together. That’s why we have nation-wide Digital Clinics set up for elders to receive 1-to-1 guidance from technology experts. Everyone should have an interest, and the elderly are no exception.

Teow-Hin: If you use the internet, the phone, the computer on a daily basis, you are already participating in the digital economy.

DJ LuLin: Yes, I meet a lot of elders who are very wary of the internet. My mother doesn’t even dare to use the QR code scanner. She thinks that if she scans the code, her bank money will get swallowed away. Hahaha.

Teow-Hin: There are two different extremes. On one hand of the spectrum are those who do not use computers and are strangers to cybersecurity. On the other hand are those who are very familiar with technology, so familiar to the point that they fear hackers because they know how powerful hackers can be.

DJ Lingzhi: So as we come to the end of today’s programme, let’s give the parents a few tips. Is there really a need to send their kids to learn to code at age 7? How important is it? Should it be encouraged?

Yong Ning: Learning to code from age 7 is very beneficial. Look at Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – they, too, started learning to code since young. More and more parents are hopping onto the digital bandwagon, sending their kids for coding classes so as to not lose out.

Teow-Hin: It’s a very good start for students to be able to attend coding lessons. If everyone has some basic understanding of coding, they can see things from a digital perspective, and use them to solve problems. This will definitely benefit their future development.

DJ Lingzhi: One of our listeners (46-year-old!) says that they’re going to attend R and Python programming classes. Seems like we all need to start taking action… I am going to start attending lessons too hahaha. Once again, thank you Secure Age CEO NUS Professor and Coding Lab Founder Foo Yong Ning for today!

Yong Ning and Teow-Hin: Thank you