We had almost a hundred responses spanning four continents who participated in our online Young Coders Global Hackathon. During the global pandemic, technology showed its prowess to transcend boundaries and unite individuals who displayed their creativity by coding around the topics of the coronavirus.

Catch the action that took place during the two months of intense coding!

YCGH Quote from Founder, Yong Ning

The limits were endless with Python, and submissions were brimming with creativity and potential. Our top 10 young senior coders then proceeded to the semifinals that were hosted LIVE on YouTube, where they had to present their ideas to the audience. Watch the action here.

Screenshot of YCGH Finalists - Senior Category

Our five finalists were neck-to-neck as they coded LIVE in our YouTube finals, which you can view here:

These young coders aged 13 to 18 proved their mettle to be crowned the finalists of our Young Coders Global Hackathon! You can click on their names to find out more about these future leaders in technology.

1st Place: Emily Ong

Age: 18

Photo of Emily, the JC2 student from Dunman High's Robotics Club.
Meet Emily, the JC2 student from Dunman High’s Robotics Club.

Hobbies: I like to do computing or math-related things, and try to play chess and other action games. When inspiration hits me, I also like to solve some competitive programming problems.

How did you start coding? I started coding in secondary school probably through sites such as CodeCombat. From there, I was able to explore more things related to computing.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I heard about the competition from my teacher and decided to join the competition as it was socially meaningful and inspiring.

What have you learned? I have learnt a lot about presenting projects and am more receptive to feedback from other people. I did not manage to have the time to join online meetups, although it would be cool to know more about other people’s projects. Furthermore, I realised how it becomes more purposeful and applicable when we start to integrate technical ideas with real-life scenarios and other fields, such as Economics, in my project.

Future coding aspirations: I would want to learn more about math and machine learning, and perhaps game development.

2nd Place: Demetrios and William
Team Better Program Pending

Ages: 14-15

Photo of Demetrios, a member of Better Program Pending
Meet Demetrios, a member of Better Program Pending

Hobbies: I like to play video games and read.

How did you start coding? I started coding using Scratch 4 years ago.

What have you learned? I have learned a lot from coding as it was an experience to do new things in programming I haven’t done before, and I got to meet many other programmers from around the world. 

Future coding aspirations: Right now, I am working with my friend and former teammate, William, on a discord bot based on our chatbot.

Photo of William, another member of Better Program Pending
Meet William, another member of Better Program Pending

Hobbies: I like to program and play video games. My hobbies include hiking, building models and playing piano and trumpet.

How did you start coding? I started coding when I was 10, when I discovered Scratch, and really enjoyed it. I went to every Scratch club at my school. When I was 12, I started learning my first programming language Javascript.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I was informed by my Coding Lab teacher, and I was very excited to sign up and quickly asked my friend Demetrios if he could too.

What have you learned? I have learned how to better organise my code, and why it is very important to leave comments!

Future coding aspirations: Currently I am working on a bot for the popular platform Discord, which will join any server and manage it, as well as play music and some other cool functions. In the future, I would like to work as a developer for a game company such as Infinity Ward or work for the government on cybersecurity. 

3rd Place: Sriharsha Sikhakollu

Age: 15

Meet Sriharsha, the tenth-grader from Singapore American School
Meet Sriharsha, the tenth-grader from Singapore American School

Hobbies:  I love to play soccer, invest in the stock market, code, and also play video games.

How did you start coding? I actually started to code when I was in 6th grade when my father signed me up for a summer coding program. Of course, it wasn’t a Java or Python course but it was the basics – Scratch. I was quite fascinated with how fun coding is and how simple it can be. Since then, I got started on my coding journey. I slowly progressed from Drag and Drop Programming to more advanced such as Python and some Java.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I was looking for something to do during quarantine as I was extremely bored. That was when coding came into my mind as I was doing some basic coding here and there in my free time. I remembered that I signed up for a class with Coding Lab a few months ago and just looked at their website for any upcoming programs and luckily there was a virtual hackathon happening.  I immediately signed up for it.

I saw the hackathon as a medium to improve my coding knowledge while also creating an application that will help the general public during the global pandemic.

What have you learned? From my YCGH journey, I would say the most important thing that I learned is, of course, more Python but also time management skills. During the phase where we code our own project and the final phase of the hackathon, I wish that I had managed my time over the weekends more efficiently so that I could have finished the project earlier. I was also quite amazed by other coders as all of them had brilliant ideas. Opportunities like the YCGH will allow coders like me to use coding to the best we can.

Future coding aspirations: Something I am interested in is entrepreneurship as well, so if I could do something which involves coding and entrepreneurship, it would be great.

Merit (Most Innovative): Ali Cevat ERÇAL

Age: 18

Meet Ali, the 18-year-old inspired to code by LEGO pieces
Meet Ali, the 18-year-old inspired to code by LEGO pieces

Hobbies: I like playing video games and basketball. In my free time, I usually play computer games but sometimes I read books.

How did you start coding? I started coding when I was 14. It was a LEGO Mindstorms kit. I built a line following a robot by using LEGO pieces.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? My dad found Coding Lab when he was surfing the internet, finding coding courses for me.

What have you learned? In meetups, I gained some friends and learned how to work under a time limit. I also expanded my Python knowledge.

Future coding aspirations: In future, I want to scale up my Hackathon project. I want to AI engineer in the future too.

Merit (Most Promising Young Coder): Kieran Ho

Age: 12

Photo of Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder
Meet Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder

Hobbies: My hobbies are coding but sometimes I like to read books. In my free time, I usually read books that I like but sometimes I code.

How did you start coding? I started coding using Scratch when I realised that my friend was coding using that language. Out of curiosity, I decided to try it out too. My friend introduced me to the language, after which I decided to find books about it. In one of the books, there was also a tutorial on Python. I tried it out and found that it was fun – and that was how I started coding in Python. I was Primary 1 at the time, I think. (Been coding for 5 years now!)

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I decided to join the Hackathon after I found out about it through one of my coaches during a Python tuition session. I thought it would be a fun experience for me to try out – but little did I know that I would get this far.

What have you learned? All in all, this Hackathon has been a fruitful experience, albeit with many pitfalls and traps. The many sessions I have had helped me to steer clear of these traps and eventually become better, not only at my code organisation but also helped me improve my ability to solve problems using code. I have learnt more about the value of learning from one another, and as Coach Yong Ning stated: it is not the end result that matters, but the journey. I have met many experienced friends and coaches that have taught me many things, and I will be ever grateful to them for inspiring me.

Future coding aspirations: I am currently working on a program which solves the Travelling Salesman Problem using the Nearest Neighbour algorithm for fun, but I plan to try out other algorithms and time them. In the near future, I hope to make more coronavirus-related programs to help others and eventually perfect my Travelling Salesman Problem program.

In the future, I hope to pursue a coding-related occupation. I hope to learn more languages to expand my abilities more. I also hope to learn more about neural networks with Tensorflow and adapt it into a program in Python, or maybe even train one!

This concludes our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020. We would like to thank our participants from all over the world, and it’s been a joy getting together and collaborating with Coding Lab Japan. See you next year!

Read about the Junior Category’s Top 7 by clicking here.

Kids these days are always brimming with excitement and have so many questions about almost anything and everything. The moment you step into your house after a long day at work, they’d greet you with the burning questions they have about something they have learned or experienced throughout their day. 

Their questions could range from “What is that?”, “Why is that happening?” to “How does that work?” Well, we’ve made things easier for you with our specially curated picks of STEM shows that we believe kids would absolutely love.

STEM education focuses on educating students in 4 specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The integration of these 4 disciplines enables children to learn more than just science and mathematical concepts – children are also able to develop a variety of skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and many more!

You can now do your own chores or take a short break while enabling your children to learn topics ranging from outer space to math and myth busting – all with these awesome shows! Check them out below! 

Ages 4-6

These shows are great for curious minds as they help stimulate creative thinking and imagination and prepare your kids for school!

1. Blaze and The Monster Machines (STEM)

Rating:  ✭✭✭✩✩ (Common Sense Media) 

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Blaze and the Monster Machines

This animated series revolves around a monster truck and human driver duo, Blaze and AJ, as they have adventures in their city and learn about various STEM concepts like buoyancy and trajectory which help them along the way. Take note mamas – with delightful visuals and captivating tunes, this show is sure to pique your child’s curiosity in learning STEM!

You can watch their episodes and clips for free on their official YouTube channel or on Nick Jr’s website

2. Ask the StoryBots (Science, Math) 

Rating:  ✭✭✭✭✭ (Common Sense Media) 

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: StoryBots

Your child can easily learn scientific concepts in a fun-filled way with the StoryBots! The colourful StoryBots live in computer parts and they help kids find answers to their ‘big questions’. Come and join their exciting adventures as they explore questions relating to Science, Math, Geography and more – with the use of vibrant animation and songs!

StoryBots is available on Netflix and you can view their episodes and clips on their playlist on Netflix Jr’s YouTube account. 

3. Helpsters (Technology, Engineering) 

Rating:  ✭✭✭✭✩ (Common Sense Media) 

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Helpsters

This educational Sesame Workshop series is about a crew of puppet monsters, led by Cody, whose business is solving problems big and small by using the concepts of coding. The Helpsters teach critical thinking and pre-coding concepts so that children learn how to address challenges of any size and simplify them in order to find solutions. 

Your child will be able to catch teamwork in action and also gain important lessons in self-confidence and effective communication!  

The series can be watched on Apple TV+ or you can view clips of their ‘Helpsters Help You’ on their YouTube playlist

4. Earth to Luna! (Science)

Rating:  ✭✭✭✭✭ (Common Sense Media) 

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Earth to Luna

The series features Luna, whose passion for science prompts her exploration of the world with energy and enthusiasm. Together with her little brother Jupiter and pet ferret Clyde, Luna pursues answers to her questions about what things are, and why and how scientific actions take place. Children are sure to bob their heads to the captivating songs in the show and have fun joining in her explorations! 

Watch Luna get excited about Science on the official YouTube channel

5. Numberblocks (Math) 

Rating:  ✭✭✭✭✩ (IMDb) 

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Number Blocks

Numberblocks follows the adventures of cute block characters in Numberland, with the number of blocks determining the numeral they stand for. The characters can even transform into other numbers – for example, the characters 3 and 2 can combine to create the character 5! 

The show helps children learn numeracy skills and ensures that they get a good exposure to early mathematical concepts. That’s right mamas, you can truly count on this show to teach your children simple maths!

You can view their episodes and watch live streamings on Numberblocks’ YouTube channel

Ages 7 and above

These shows are great to reinforce what has been learnt in school and would definitely deepen your child’s interest to learn more about STEM-related concepts!

6. Mythbusters Jr. (Technology, Engineering) 

Rating: ✭✭✭✭✩ (Common Sense Media)

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Mythbusters Jr

A spin-off of the popular TV show Mythbusters, Mythbusters Jr. hosts young talented kids, who bound together to tackle myths using chemistry, physics and popular culture know-how. The show will definitely entertain the young ones with its small-scale experiments that they can do in their kitchen! 

You can view clips of the series on their playlist here or watch it on Amazon Prime Video

7. Odd Squad (Math) 

Rating: ✭✭✭✭✩ (Common Sense Media)

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Odd Squad

In this series, the Odd Squad is an organisation entirely run by children who use their math skills to solve the problems posed in every episode. Now in its third season in 2020, they travel around the world to solve mysteries with their math skills. Children can join in on the fun and learn to solve problems using addition and subtraction, as well as the importance of communication and perseverance! 

You can watch the first 2 seasons of Odd Squad on Netflix.

8. Our Planet (Science) 

Rating: ✭✭✭✭✩ (Common Sense Media)

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Our Planet

Narrated by the renowned David Attenborough, Our Planet is a beautiful docuseries that can be watched by the entire family to learn about the amazing species of wildlife and their survival methods. Children will also be able to learn about topics like climate change and its effects on the environment. 

Though the series is a smart pick for family viewing, parents should be advised that the show contains scenes like predators’ hunting prey. 

You can watch Our Planet on Netflix!

9. Annedroids (Technology, Engineering) 

Rating: ✭✭✭✭✩ (Common Sense Media)

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Annedroids

The show features eleven-year old genius and kid scientist Anne, who loves to solve problems using her expertise in engineering and computer programming. Throughout the series, she happily shares her knowledge with her friends, who join her in exploring the possibilities of science and solving scientific problems with real-life solutions. 

The show incorporates many scientific concepts in each episode, and is sure to inspire children’s interest in the STEM subjects! 

You can watch all four seasons of Annedroids on Amazon Prime Video.

10. Xploration Outer Space (Science) 

Rating:  ✭✭✭✭✭ (Common Sense Media)

Image for Top 10 STEM Shows Blogpost: Xploration Outer Space

Xploration Outer Space exposes kids to STEM concepts as they relate to space discovery. The show encourages children’s curiosity about related subjects as it tackles a range of questions from the fun “How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space suits?” to the philosophical “Could there be life on other planets?”.

The topics that are touched on will make parents want to tune in as well, making this a smart choice for curious families! 

All five seasons of Xploration Outer Space are available on Amazon Prime Video

Lynn Kiew is one of our dedicated educators with a passion for teaching and a love for numbers and solving challenging problems. 

At Coding Lab, she seeks to excite students in programming and empower students to excel through technology. Read on to find out more about this amazing educator!

Lynn with her students in a Home-Based Learning class!

1. Tell us about yourself!

I graduated with Distinction from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with a Bachelor in Mathematical Sciences. I really enjoy learning and teaching Mathematics and always thought that I would be a Math teacher in the future… I never imagined myself teaching coding to children! Given the fact that I had some difficulty in computer classes when I was in secondary school, and had to seek help from the partner beside me (haha!) But look at me now – a coding teacher! I guess when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade?

2. Wow, it’s interesting to learn that you had difficulty in computer classes – how then did you start teaching kids coding?

I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher because I love being in the company of students and to know that I have positively impacted their lives! Back when I was in NTU as a Math undergraduate, Computing was one of the compulsory modules that I had to take. To my surprise, I came to love the subject and discovered that I have a flair for it.

I guess it’s thanks to my early exposure during my secondary school computer classes – it really did me well! In hindsight, I believe that it’s due to the early struggles that I went through during those classes that have really helped me and eased my learning for university. I also like how Computing requires some form of logical thinking and practice, which can be challenging, and I’m always up to solve challenging problems!

Lynn conducting an online class via Zoom.

3. What motivates you to teach?

The moment when students get the eureka moment ‘Aha!’. It’s really satisfying to see students understand what I have taught. The smiles on their faces make me forget all those moments when I was pulling my hair out because they forgot a simple concept. Also, their cheeky antics definitely bring joy to my life – 82.75% of the time. 

4. Describe how a typical class would look like – what would we be able to see and hear?

Ask any of our teachers, and they will all be raising their hands and FEET in agreement – ‘TEACHER HELP! MY CODE HAS AN ERROR!’ You have no idea how many times we hear this in one lesson. But with that, we train and teach our students the concept of TRYING! We don’t simply just run to them to provide them with the solution but we let them explore and attempt to solve the error by themselves first, before providing hints and guidance.

Lynn assisting her students in class.

5. In your opinion, how would kids benefit from learning how to code at a young age?

Coding helps to train children’s problem-solving skills (which is useful for their Mathematics in school) in a fun and exciting manner! There is no one way of solving questions, thus it exposes them to think out of the box and find different ways to solve a problem. With the rise of the digital age, we can see how AI is becoming more and more popular these days – hence, coding will really give a head start for young learners.

6. How do you keep track of your students’ learning progress?

Educators at Coding Lab keep track of our students’ progress with our online system – students use it to submit their work between classes for us to grade, and from there it informs us of their level of understanding of the topics taught. We are also always in close contact with our students’ parents – we have a WhatsApp group for every class to send parents a brief summary of the topics covered, the homework required and address any other concerns after every lesson. Parents are always kept in the loop and updated about their child’s progress!

For me, I always provide a target for my students in every class – of course, every student’s target is different. Once they have met it, I will definitely give praise when it’s due. However, for students who are falling behind, I will nudge them and provide feedback to their parents if needed.

7. What has your experience with Coding Lab and teaching coding been like?

It has definitely been an enriching journey, with a lot of learning, testing and experimenting with new things! I am also glad to know that the Coding Lab team has my back – they have made work more enjoyable and memorable! Coding Lab truly has a nurturing environment where we are constantly giving and receiving encouragement. If you have been a part of Coding Lab’s team, you would definitely have remembered using this word constantly – “GREAT!”, it’s just a common word that our team always uses that has become sort of a catchphrase for us.

8. What are some words of advice that you would give for children/teens who have just started learning how to code?

Lucky you, you have made the right choice to start coding! The process is definitely not going to be easy – there will be lots of ups and downs, but NEVER GIVE UP! The joy when you finally see your program running without any errors is going to be AMAZING!

Just like how I initially faced some difficulties with computer lessons, I later realised that it was my calling – hence I believe that students should be exposed at an early age as it would definitely be beneficial and ease their learning in the future!

9. What are your interests/hobbies outside the classroom?

I watch a lot of Korean dramas – ask me any, and I would probably have struck them off my list. Other than that, I started to pick up crocheting during the circuit breaker period! I must say it’s a really good pastime and it’s really satisfying to see the final products that I have created. I made a few pouches and cute keychains (which I can ‘bribe’ the students in the future…)

Due to the rise of the digital economy [1], the demand for tech jobs has increased tremendously. Among those in demand are programmers – but what exactly are the starting salaries of programmers, and how do they compare to those of other professions? 

If you’re interested in pursuing programming in the exciting field of technology and wondering how it would fare for you, you’re in luck! We’ve done the research and here’s all you need to know about the starting salaries of programmers in Singapore (based on recent years). 

We’ve also thrown in a few career tips for you budding programmers, so keep reading to find out!

In recent years, companies have been restructuring efforts in an increasingly digitalised economy. This has resulted in workers with tech skills being the most in demand [2] – particularly workers with the knowledge of programming languages, data science, AI and machine learning expertise. 

The latest graduate employment survey released by the Ministry of Education (MOE) [3] – showed that students in the information and digital technologies sector posted one of the highest rates for full-time jobs and median gross monthly salaries in 2019.

Those in courses such as computer science, information security and software engineering cinched one of the highest median gross monthly pays of $4,400, with Engineering and Health Sciences following closely behind with the median gross monthly salaries of $3,750 and $3,500 respectively. 

The figures reflect the high demand for IT savvy graduates as companies hope to use technology as a competitive edge [4] by digitalising their processes. 

Distinguished billionaires Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg started coding at the tender ages of 13 and 10 respectively – so never think that you’re too young to start! MOE schools have even rolled out a compulsory 10-hour coding enrichment program for all upper primary students with effect from this year but in today’s day and age, we all know that it is still not enough. 

Today’s technology has brought us far – classes can even be conducted online! So how do you know if your kid has the chops for programming? Here are some tips (Budding Teen Coders – this is for YOU!) if you are planning to get started or have already gotten into the thick of coding:

5 tips for budding programmers:

1. Build a strong foundation in logical thinking

You learn to walk before you run, so learn to master the basics first! With a strong foundation, mistakes such as writing more code than necessary or finding code solutions that are not optimal can be avoided. Focus on mastering logic and your computational thinking concepts to build a solid foundation. Python’s a good one to start off with. After that, it’s just a matter of getting used to the syntax of the different programming languages – Building a 3D Game? Designing your own Stock Rating Algorithm? Building your own Web App? The sky’s the limit!

Students in our S101 Python classes.

2. Work hard, work smart

The more practice you have under your belt, the better. Participate in competitions, get involved with different projects, or even volunteer for a local non-profit organization to write software or teach coding to kids. Be prepared to be amazed with what you will learn. You’ll not only gain exposure, but also get to build soft skills and gain a sense of accomplishment.

The bright participants of our Young Coders’ Global Hackathon (YCGH) Finals!

3. Never Give Up!

There will be times where you’ll feel frustrated when trying to solve a problem in your code – and that’s totally normal! The key thing is to never shut off when you experience such setbacks. Error messages in your code are not messages that you’re bad at coding, it’s telling you the code just isn’t working in the way that you thought it would. It’s fine – chances are, you’re closer to finding a solution than you were before. 

Students learning about Program Errors in our Python classes held via Zoom.

4. Optimise code efficiency – Be a perfectionist

Everytime you learn something new, work on your efficiency. Don’t approach your code the same way with the newfound knowledge that you gain – use shortcuts and make yourself a cheat sheet so as to save time and energy. It’s also really important to take breaks every once in a while so that you’re constantly refreshed to do your assignments! 

At Coding Lab, we enforce a 5 minute eye break for every hour of coding that our students get to safeguard their eye health and to also inculcate good habits from young. It also helps to keep our students energised during our lessons! 

Image showing IB Computer Science/O-Level and A-Level Computing tuition
Students focused on their work in class.

5. What can I do better?

Never be satisfied with what you have done. Always ask yourself: “What can be done better?” – There is always something that can be improved. Continuous improvement is a key trademark of a good programmer. 

Bought the expansion pack for League of Legends yet? Who doesn’t love the refreshed look of your phone or your laptop after installing an upgrade for iOs, Android or Windows? These updates are important and beneficial in strengthening your cyber security through processes such as the removal of bugs and outdated features as well as the addition of feature enhancements to your devices. 

“Good specifications will always improve programmer productivity far better than any programming tool or technique.” – Milt Bryce 

Put out questions, search for solutions and learn from the Internet. Code can always be shortened. Code can always be more optimised. And the beauty is in the final product and the work that you have done with your two hands at the keyboard, day and night.

And of course, our reliable tutors at Coding Lab are always dedicated to helping students learn coding in the best possible way – we infuse our students with enthusiasm and help to create the best learning environment for you to comfortably learn in. Make sure to check out our classes here

Students waving hello as they join our online classes!

With the knowledge of starting salaries of programmers and these awesome career tips, we hope that these would motivate you in learning more and increase your passion for coding! After all, it’s our job to nurture future leaders in technology. 

Fun Techtivities in July!

Phase 1 or 2? Whatever phase Singapore is in, our Coding Lab team’s techtivities will keep rolling in every month to give you ideas on inspiring technology and exciting things we can do from home!

Virtual Disney World

You don’t have to leave your home to experience the Disney magic now! 360-degree cameras and YouTube have brought Disney World to us. Don’t let the lack of a VR headset stop you – you can simply view from your phone and have fun spinning around to take in the great rides!

Virtual Disney World YouTube Channel
*Note: This is not an official channel by Disney
Price: Free
To access it, click here.

The Shows Must Go On

Peter Pan, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera. These are just some examples of the show-stopping musicals that this channel brings to your screens every week. Indeed, all musical shows must go on – and they are – on YouTube!

The Shows Must Go On YouTube Channel
Price: Free
To access it, click here.

Father’s Day Coding Workshop (Ages 7 to 18)

Have loads of fun during our 2-hour workshop with some quality father-child bonding. We’ve got super exciting activities for all the different age groups to express their love and gratitude this Father’s Day!

Father’s Day Coding Workshop
Selected days in June
To access it, click here.

You can use the promo code UNITEDWESTAND to get 10% off all our classes (limited time only) or SUPERCODER to get 12% off if you purchase two or more classes. We hope everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

Psst, our friends at EtonHouse has a bunch of free resources to help your young kiddos understand the virus and school interruptions that they are currently experiencing. This includes complimentary eBooks, printable activity sheets, and a home learning kit! Find out more on their website here.

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out Google Maps Treks, SSOPlayOn! and other June techtivities here!

With effect from 2 June, Primary and Secondary students who are in graduating cohorts will attend school daily while other cohorts will rotate weekly between Home-Based Learning and returning to school for lessons. 

With the circuit breaker stay-home measures for the past 1.5 months, your child will have learned to navigate 8 different websites, key in the zoom password effortlessly, and type his/her name confidently for all the HBL and online classes they attended! Indeed your newly minted digital native will still be putting these skills to good use as he/she shuttles between school and the demands of HBL. Here are some specially curated tips that we hope will aid you in making your child’s digital journey the best that it can be. 

Check them out below! 

1. Ensure good digital security habits

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), children aged 7 to 12 can have close to 2 hours of recreational screen time daily. With their daily Home-Based Learning demands, your child will definitely be logging in and out of multiple websites! Do reinforce the importance of digital security with him/her.

Enhance your digital security through simple cybersecurity steps such as regularly changing passwords, enabling two-factor authentication (it’s as simple as registering a phone number or installing an app) and keeping your software up to date.

Don’t forget to encourage your children to inform you if they come across anything suspicious online!

2. Differentiate between Good and Bad screen time

Parents must learn to differentiate between Good and Bad screen time so as to maximise their children’s learning and development. 

Good screen time refers to children producing content – which can be in the forms of working on their projects, schoolwork or even coding on Scratch! Bad screen time refers to children consuming content – like watching videos on YouTube and playing games that do not contribute to their development. 

As Michel Resnick (MIT Media Lab) says, “Rather than trying to minimize screen time, I think parents and teachers should try to maximize creative time.” So give some encouragement for your children to be productive and make the most out of the screen time that they have.

You can check out #ScratchAtHome for many fun learning activities that can be done with Scratch’s free coding environment! Your child can partake in the many coding projects they have on their page.

3. Proper sitting and typing posture

Not inculcating a proper seating and keyboard typing posture from young can lead to negative consequences in the long run – such as back pain and finger strains. 

For good sitting posture, make sure that your child rests his/her back against the chair for maximum support, with shoulders relaxed and eyes looking straight ahead towards the screen. Their feet should also be resting flat on the floor or on a footrest. 

For proper keyboard typing posture, the elbows should be in an open angle (90 – 110 degrees) so as to relax the forearms and shoulders. Keep the wrists straight, neither flexed upwards or downwards and resist resting them on the desk as this puts pressure on the tendons and cuts off blood circulation!

With our Basic Computer Skills course (Ages 6-8), students will not only learn how to type with the correct posture and method but also learn how to type efficiently and gain computer and web navigation skills! It’s the best start for your child’s digital journey.

4. Be Productive with Digital Technology

One of the ways in ensuring that your children’s time with digital devices remains productive is through engaging in its use together. For example, you can take online courses with them – which can lead to both educational achievement and productive bonding with your child!

Coding Lab’s Mother’s Day Workshop that was conducted earlier this May saw many mother-child pairs having a whale of a time while learning how to program everlasting flowers! So why not try one with your child too? (Psst, we have our Father’s Day Workshop coming up in June – be sure to check that out!)

If you’re unable to engage with digital devices together, you can always monitor their online activities with them close by – ensure that they use a shared family computer that is placed in a common area of your house!

5. Take Frequent Eye Breaks

Parents are a child’s first teachers and role models. With an increased screen time for your children, don’t forget to enforce regular eye breaks for them throughout the day to reduce blue light exposure. 

Here at Coding Lab, we recognise the importance of eye breaks to prevent digital eye strain – that’s why we make it compulsory for our students for every hour of coding! 

Well, that’s all from us! We hope that you benefit from these tips and while things may look glum now, know that every cloud has a silver lining. Stay safe and sound with your families at home and we hope to see you real soon!

Von Neumann, Torvalds, and Markov. What’s the story behind these esteemed scientists? Who are they and what significant contributions prompted us to name our rooms after them?

Room 1. von Neumann

After his work with the atomic bomb, von Neumann died of cancer at the age of 53. (Photo from Wikipedia)

We named our first room after John von Neumann (28 December 1903 – 8 February 1957), a Hungarian-born American mathematician and physicist who is known as “the last representative of the great mathematicians” [1]. His contributions include revolutionising aspects of mathematics and physics, economics, statistics, with roles in the invention of the atomic bomb, nuclear energy and digital computing [2].

A visual representation of what the von Neumann Architecture described. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Best known for: von Neumann Architecture a.k.a. von Neumann model or Princeton Architecture [3]

  • Includes descriptions that form the fundamentals of modern digital stored-program computers
  • Proposed that there would be a processing unit (contains arithmetic / logic unit and processor registers) and a control unit (with the instruction register and program counter)
  • Suggested that there would be a memory unit to store data and instructions, external storage, and input and output mechanisms.

“Can we survive technology? … To ask in advance for a complete recipe would be unreasonable. We can specify only the human qualities required: patience, flexibility, intelligence.” [4]

Did you know? von Neumann was initially supposed to pursue Chemical Engineering – his father had discouraged him from studying Mathematics as he believed that it would not earn him much [5].

Room 2. Torvalds

Torvalds has an estimated net worth of US$150 million today – even though Linux is free [6].

Linus Benedict Torvalds (born 28 December 1969) is a Finnish computer scientist responsible for developing the Linux operating systems and free, open-source Git (the foundational software of GitHub) [7].

Tux, the penguin mascot and logo of Linux.

Best known for: Linux Operating Systems [8]

  • As a computer science student, he made improvements for Minix and UNIX operating systems
  • Unsatisfied, he created Linux and published the free source code online for anyone to make modifications
  • It became popular in the late 1990s and is now commonly used in China and other non-Western countries.

“In real open source, you have the right to control your own destiny.”

Did you know? The passionate diver co-designed and developed Subsurface, a free and open-source software for logging and planning scuba dives [9].

Room 3. Markov

Until his death at the age of 66 from health complications, Markov taught probability courses at the University of St. Petersberg.

Andrey Andreyevich Markov (June 14, 1856 – July 20, 1922), a Russian mathematician responsible for number theory, probability theory, and the Markov Brothers’ inequality (with his younger brother and fellow mathematician, Vladimir Markov) [10, 11].

Algorithms based on Markov Chains are at work every time a search engine returns with recommendations of relevant webpages [12].

Best known for: Markov Chains [13, 14]

  • It’s a theory of stochastic processes, which is a probability theory of a process involving the operation of chance [15].
  • It tells you about mathematical systems that change from one ‘state’ (a situation or set of values) to another – with the probability of this transition.
  • Used in economics, game theory, queueing (communication) theory, genetics, and finance.

“Mathematics to a considerable extent consists in solving problems, [and] together with proper discussion, [this] can be of the highest scientific nature…” [16]

Did you know? His son, Andrey Markov Jr. (1903 – 1979), was also a renowned mathematician with notable contributions in topology, topological algebra, dynamical systems, theory of algorithms and constructive mathematics [17].

We hope that you have enjoyed our Unravelling The Mystery series and that we have piqued your curiosity into some of the greatest computer scientists and contributors to modern computer science! You can read about the faces behind our Parkway Parade Room Names by clicking here.

There’s no doubt that computing/programming is becoming more and more of a fundamental skill needed to thrive in this digital age. This is why there has been an increase in the number of schools offering Computing as an O-Level and A-Level subject.

Does your Secondary School child have an interest in coding? Or are you a student yourself, interested in learning more about coding in the long run? 

We have collated a list of schools below that offer IB, O-Level and A-Level Computing. 

Secondary 2 is the time where students will have to go through streaming to choose their desired subject combination in upper secondary. In most cases, schools require students to do well in their English and Mathematics in order to be able to apply for Computing. Here are the schools which offer ‘O’ level Computing:

O-Level Computing (22 schools)

Admiralty Secondary School 

Boon Lay Secondary School 

Bukit View Secondary School 

Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) 

Clementi Town Secondary School 

Commonwealth Secondary School 

Holy Innocents’ High School 

Junyuan Secondary School 

Jurong West Secondary School 

Maris Stella High School 

Pathlight School 

Peirce Secondary School 

School of Science and Technology, Singapore 

Serangoon Secondary School 

Springfield Secondary School 

St. Patrick’s Secondary School 

Xinmin Secondary School 

Zhonghua Secondary School 

Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) 

Montfort Secondary School 

Ngee Ann Secondary School 

Temasek Secondary School

ib blog 2

Need help with O-Level Computing? We offer small group tuition for Secondary 3 and 4 Computing students. Check out our classes here.

Here are the schools which offer ‘A’ level Computing:

A-Level Computing (8 schools) 

Anglo-Chinese Junior College 

Dunman High School

Hwa Chong Institution

Jurong Pioneer Junior College

Nanyang Junior College

National Junior College

River Valley Junior College 

Yishun Innova Junior College 

On the International Baccalaureate (IB) track? The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme offers two course levels for Computer Science: the Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL). Below’s a list of the schools that offer the course:

IB Computing 

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) – HL only 

Australian International School – SL/HL

Dulwich College – SL/HL 

Global Indian International School – SL/HL 

NPS International School – SL/HL

Overseas Family School – SL/HL

St. Joseph’s Institution International – SL only 

Stamford American International School 

Tanglin Trust School 

United World College (UWC) SEA – SL/HL 

Excel IB Computer Science with us! We offer 1-1 customised IB Java tutoring and are always ready to lend a helping hand – check out our classes here

We hope that with these lists of schools, you’ll be able to make better informed decisions regarding your selection of school. Never stop learning and keep on coding!

Fun Techtivities in June!

Looking for more things to keep you and your family occupied? Keep the curious sparks of your young techies’ minds alive with our online techtivities, inspiring and showing them the endless possibilities of technology during this Covid-19 period!

Google Maps Treks

Missed travelling and the great outdoors? From the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt to the Amazon Basin in Brazil, you can now make your way around some of the world’s greatest sights with Google Maps Treks!

Price: Free
To access it, click here.


Always wanted to attend one of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s (SSO) events? They’ve now gone digital, airing three to four performances in a week. This includes both old and new video and audio concerts, never-before-released recordings, live-streamed performances from musicians at the Victoria Concert Hall and the SSO’s Rose Studio recording facilities.

Sneak Peak: Beethoven's Choral Fantasy

We know you're all excited for Saturday's YouTube premiere of The Planets at 8pm, but don't forget the concert begins at 7.30pm with Beethoven's sparkling Choral Fantasy!Easiest way to remember: youtube.com/singaporesymphony – join in our livechat and countdown before 7.30pm, Sat, 2 May!

Posted by Singapore Symphony Orchestra on Friday, 1 May 2020

Until end of June
Price: Free
To view the online events, click here.

Online Coding Camps

Want to engage in something productive or pick up a skill this month? Let your child learn coding from home this May Holidays! We bring our award-winning curriculum to your home, delivered LIVE by our tutors.

For the month of May
To view the classes, click here.

You can use the promo code UNITEDWESTAND to get 10% off all our classes (limited time only). We’re missing bubble tea, eating out and going to gyms as much as you are, but just stay home and stay safe during this period!

If you haven’t seen our previous techtivity recommendations, check out Harvard’s courses, NLB’s resources and other May techtivities here!

Meet 13-year-old Ziv. A creative and fast learner, he picked up coding when he was 11 and hasn’t looked back since. He was part of a team that won the code::XtremeApps:: (CXA) 2019 Hackathon (Junior Category) by IMDA and was in the Top 10 Finalists of the Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020.

Photo of Ziv with a sunset
A boy with geeky humour, the Yew Tee Primary School alumnus is now learning as much as he can about Python before proceeding to Java and C++ coding. Photo courtesy of Ziv.

Hi Ziv, how did you get started on coding?

Mum felt that I spent too much time on computer games, so she signed me up for classes and later realised that I have a flair for coding. I truly enjoy my lessons at Coding Lab and have since developed a passion for programming, aspiring to use my skills as a Game Developer or White Hat Hacker.

Ziv’s Mother added, “Frankly speaking, Ziv naturally fits into coding as he is good in Math and Science. He is now focused on his journey to becoming a Game Developer or White Hat Hacker, and I’m glad I made the correct choice when he was in P5.”

Note: White Hat Hackers are ethical hackers, using their skills for security to protect against threats or other hackers.

“Coding can be hard. … You should also commit your free time for coding so as to improve. Most importantly, you need to have a passion for programming.”

What do you like most about coding? Why?

What I like most is that I can do anything limited by only my imagination and knowledge. This means that I can do whatever I want, I can also do things that are impossible in the real world. So far, my experience at Coding Lab has been good. I learnt a lot of things on Scratch, MIT App Inventor, Micro:Bit and Python thanks to my mentors.

I am now learning Python, which is a big jump from all the other coding languages I’ve used. Simply because I have to type out all the codes instead of using blocks. Just an additional bracket could lead to a big error. Despite the big jump, I am able to learn most of the things thanks to the teachers’ guidance.

Ziv’s team, Eagle Eye, receiving their award. Photo from CodeXtremeApps.

How did your Coding Lab mentors guide you for CXA 2019? What are your key takeaways from the competition?

We encountered a lot of problems, but thankfully, we were able to debug it. By applying what our Coding Lab mentors had guided us to do in our regular classes, we managed to overcome the glitches we faced. Most importantly I had lots of fun participating with the team!

What advice would you give to young coders who are new to programming?

Coding can be hard. You will learn how to debug and think logically. If you encounter problems, you should ask the teacher for help. You should also commit your free time for coding so as to improve. Most importantly, you need to have a passion for programming.

Ziv presenting his team's game to the judges at the CXA 2019
Ziv presenting his team’s game to the judges at the CXA 2019.

Ziv Lim, 13, is a Secondary One student at Zhonghua Secondary School. He started off with our Scratch 1 class in 2018, has since completed our ScratchYoung Computer Scientists and MIT App Inventor classes, and is currently picking up Python.

The Champion of the CXA 2019 and Top 10 Finalist of the Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020 is constantly seeking improvement with the goal of becoming a Game Developer or White Hat Hacker. His enthusiasm for coding is evident, going beyond what is taught in class, and continuously demonstrating his creativity and ability to think on his feet. We’re glad that such a bright young student like Ziv began his coding journey with us at Coding Lab!