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

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!

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…)

At just 21 years old, Zhang Guangxuan is a competitive programmer who has represented Singapore in the International Olympiad in Informatics, attained 2nd Place as a Gold Medallist in the National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI), and guided many others down the same path as Singapore’s National Coach.

Get to know one of Coding Lab’s youngest but most accomplished educators.

Guangxuan and his students in class
Guangxuan and his students in class

Hi Guangxuan, how did you get started on coding? 

My journey began in the primary school robotics lab, where I tinkered with drag-and-drop “programming”. I took on the job of lead programmer, creating combinations of basic operations to accomplish missions. The joy of discovering new functions and alternative methods of programming the robot helped us to clinch top prize in programming at the National Junior Robotics Competition. Little did I know that these experiences would form my passion for artificial intelligence.

Fast forward to high school, I kept pursuing my passion by attending programming electives. These courses expanded my arsenal of programming languages, which included Python, C++ and Java, forming the foundations of computation. Learning about Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taught me much about what I truly enjoy. I am fascinated by the endless potential of AI in problem-solving and I enjoy discovering novel ideas used in AI to model problems. I will continue discovering more about AI, for as long as my passion takes me, and I hope that I can contribute to AI in the future for the good of mankind!

“In my opinion, everyone who wants to code should at least try their hand at competitive coding.”

Guangxuan has represented Raffles Institution and Singapore in numerous prestigious Olympiads in Computing, Physics, and Mathematics.
Guangxuan has represented Raffles Institution and Singapore in numerous prestigious Olympiads in Computing, Physics, and Mathematics.

How did you start to teach coding?

In 2015, I joined my NOI teammate in teaching the December NOI training course. Initially, I was concerned by my teaching capabilities as I have never been a trainer. However, the trainer community was welcoming and I picked up teaching skills along the way. I learnt to explain concepts in an easily digestible way to newcomers, challenge assumptions and to teach from first principles. 

Tell us about how a typical coding class would look like. If I walked into your classroom during a lesson, what would I see and hear? 

Students discuss while solving problems on the interactive whiteboards located in each classroom. Students collaborate while solving problems, sometimes even helping each other debug.

In your opinion, what is the most important takeaway for kids from coding class? 

Students learn Computational Thinking while solving problems. Computational Thinking can generalise and transfer the problem-solving process to a wide variety of situations, such as confidence in dealing with complexity, persistence in working with difficult problems, the potential to deal with open-ended problems, and the ability to communicate and work with others to achieve a common goal or solution.

“Build a strong foundation, and you shall be able to conquer the Olympiad.”

Guangxuan has trained countless medalists in Olympiad in Informatics Courses
Guangxuan has trained countless medalists in Olympiad in Informatics Courses

What are you up to these days?

In my free time, I enjoy keeping up with developments in technology. After exploring various computational fields such as web development and security, I realised that I enjoyed machine learning the most as it involves both the rigour of Mathematical theory and the creativity of practical application.

Just as AI must train to improve their performance, I must train myself to get better at AI. As such AI courses were not offered in high school, I have enrolled in structured online machine learning courses from Stanford University. The courses constantly challenge my thinking and helps me to gain new perspectives about coding and how to teach it to students. Currently, I’ve been learning about Machine Vision (the ability of a computer to see) by following the Stanford CS231n course.

“I will continue discovering more about AI, for as long as my passion takes me, and I hope that I can contribute to AI in the future for the good of mankind!”

How is competitive programming different?

Competitive programming is a mind sport. A lot of people are engrossed in competitive coding for the sheer thrill of it — the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction of getting your solution accepted. In my opinion, everyone who wants to code should at least try their hand at competitive coding. It has a very large and diverse online community including school and college students and even people working in big tech companies. The skills picked up can be applied directly to technical interviews for big tech companies!

What advice do you have for children/teenagers who want to participate in the NOI?

Build a strong foundation, and you shall be able to conquer the Olympiad. The course is difficult, and you will be challenged. Long-term commitment to the competitive programming sport will lead to great rewards.

Guangxuan is our educator with a passion for AI and teaching future leaders in technology.

Our non-profit Tiny Thinkers initiative began as a bold Final-Year Project for a team of Nanyang Technological University undergraduates, which has been well received and reached out to many under their leadership. As they graduate, they pass the baton on to five other undergraduates – who, although all happen to be from the National University of Singapore, are diverse and bring their own unique set of strengths to the table. 

Let’s meet the fresh new team powering the second year of Tiny Thinkers.

Chairperson: Candice Wang

“It’s heartening to see the number of hours put in by the core team and their amazing passion and enthusiasm, which rubs off on all of our volunteers.”

Candice, with a Computational Thinking Kit, at the NLB Volunteers Training
Candice, with a Computational Thinking Kit, at the NLB Volunteers Training

As a mother of two and Director of Coding Lab, Candice understands parents and oversees the operations and community engagement sectors. She admits that it is no easy feat to be a part of Tiny Thinkers for the second year running, organising activities and packing kits. But with a new team, she says, “It’s exciting to have many interested young talents who bring their unique interests, personalities and know-how to make things happen. It’s heartening to see the number of hours put in by the core team and their amazing passion and enthusiasm, which rubs off on all of our volunteers.”

With 2020 ahead, she is excited that Tiny Thinkers will be able to impact more than 7,000 young lives across many preschools and libraries in Singapore with the Junior Computational Thinking (CT) kit, which covers all 4 pillars of CT (Abstraction, Algorithm, Decomposition and Pattern Recognition). “This kit has been heavily oversubscribed and we still have a long waitlist of preschools asking for it,” she said. “Our volunteers are working hard to pack kits so it can promptly reach preschools and libraries across Singapore. We are very proud of this kit, developed in conjunction with our partners (IMDA, Skool4kids and Nexus), which infuses Total Defense values into CT and most importantly, encourages parent-child bonding.”

President: Thinzar Htet

“While it is tiring, I enjoy interacting with children during events and workshops which reminds me of why I became a part of Tiny Thinkers in the first place.”

Thinzar manning the Tiny Thinkers booth at the National Library Board's kidsREAD 15th anniversary carnival
Thinzar manning the Tiny Thinkers booth at the National Library Board’s kidsREAD 15th anniversary carnival

The former intern at Coding Lab initially helped out with Tiny Thinkers activities and was inspired to keep the flame burning after her internship ended. Thinzar recalls her experiences during Tiny Thinkers workshops, where she shared the joy of coding with parents and witnessed children enjoying themselves. “When parents hear the aim of Tiny Thinkers, they inquire and remark that it is an interesting and great thing that we are doing. These instances make me feel proud of what I have done and want to continue, despite the difficulties.” 

The second-year Sociology student was always interested in education and working with children, “So I thought that it was fitting to be a part of something meaningful like Tiny Thinkers, which equips children with the valuable skill of Computational Thinking. While it is tiring,” she admits, “I enjoy interacting with children during events and workshops which reminds me of why I became a part of Tiny Thinkers in the first place.”

Head of Talent Acquisition: Shravya Murali

“I want to create a positive difference and to spark joy in the lives of others and myself.”

Shravya (on the right) at the Mendaki Learning Festival
Shravya (on the right) at the Mendaki Learning Festival

A firm believer that every child should have access to education – specifically, computational education – regardless of their background, Shravya is on a journey to make her life more meaningful. “I want to create a positive difference and to spark joy in the lives of others and myself,” the second-year Life Sciences student said. This led to her joining the Tiny Thinkers team. “I had chances to converse with parents at the Tiny Thinkers booth during the Smart Nation & U event, and they seemed impressed and appreciated what Tiny Thinkers was doing.” 

Just like Thinzar, this motivated Shravya to continue her work with Tiny Thinkers, knowing that it benefits others. She also spent her December holidays as an intern educator with Coding Lab, gaining more experience in teaching children while also interacting with parents. When asked about what she’s anticipating for in 2020, the avid volunteer said: “I am excited for more Tiny Thinkers events to come!”

Head of Training and Development: Jeffrey Tan

“I have been looking out for an avenue to give back through mentoring for a while now, so this came at the right time … I feel that I can make a difference in someone’s life here.”

Head of Training and Development, Jeffrey
Jeffrey giving a talk about computational thinking at the Smart Nation & U event

During one of his volunteer stints, Jeffrey was observed to have been working excellently with kids and was approached by Shravya to be a part of Tiny Thinkers. “I have been looking out for an avenue to give back through mentoring for a while now, so this came at the right time,” the third-year Computational Biology student enthused, citing the aims of Tiny Thinkers as the inspiration for joining. “They are very clear, achievable and most importantly, meaningful. I feel that I can make a difference in someone’s life here. I am able to multiply my value through training volunteers and subsequently gather feedback to improve the materials.” 

On Tiny Thinkers activities, Jeffrey mentions that it is heartwarming how parents are also involved. “It’s always nice to witness the parent-child physical connection especially in today’s increasingly digitalised society,” he remarked. “While the background of a family often plays a part in a child’s education, we strive to put everyone on the same starting line as we welcome the digital age.” 

Head of Marketing: Lakshmi Suresh

“I believe in devoting myself to a greater purpose, which involves helping others.”

Lakshmi giving a talk at the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Conference
Lakshmi giving a talk at the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) Conference

The bubbly second-year Business student was a former intern educator at Coding Lab, where she also helped out with marketing activities. Lakshmi’s interest in entrepreneurship and social service was what led her to be a part of the team. “I believe in devoting myself to a greater purpose, which involves helping others,” she said. “Once I heard about Tiny Thinkers and their vision, I felt immediately drawn to helping the team out by tapping on my personal strengths.” 

In managing media channels and disseminating messages, her dedication is further spurred on by the effects of what she does. “I really love it when the publicity successfully attracts people to attend our events and to see parents and children have fun warms my heart,” she gushed. “I hope that Tiny Thinkers can be understood as an organisation that is out to make a difference, and that we can get more volunteers and participants to make our vision a reality!”

Head of Logistics: Senthamaraiselvan Pooja

“Being involved in something as meaningful as Tiny Thinkers has really made my university life more exciting as there are many exciting events going on to help spread computational thinking to young children.”

Pooja (on the right) at the ECDA Conference
Pooja (on the right) at the ECDA Conference

The second-year Biomedical Engineering student is in charge of ensuring that the materials and kits are delivered to the right place and at the right time. “I wish that I received more exposure to computational thinking at a young age,” Pooja confessed. “But by joining the Tiny Thinkers team, I find great delight in being part of a team that equips today’s children with this skill. This is especially critical now as Singapore is moving towards becoming a Smart Nation, so computational thinking would definitely be highly relevant in many future jobs.” 

When asked how she manages to juggle school and studies, Pooja mentioned that just being focused on studying can make life dull. “Being involved in something as meaningful as Tiny Thinkers has really made my university life more exciting as there are many exciting events going on to help spread computational thinking to young children,” she said.

 

The Tiny Thinkers team. Back row (from left): Jeffrey and Shravya Front row (from left): Lakshmi, Thinzar and Pooja
The Tiny Thinkers team. Back row (from left): Jeffrey and Shravya
Front row (from left): Lakshmi, Thinzar and Pooja

What’s next for Tiny Thinkers?

  • Conducting sessions for various preschools about the Tiny Thinkers Junior Computational Thinking kit
  • Working with National Library Board’s kidsREAD programme to distribute 3,500 computational thinking kits to beneficiaries
  • More workshops to empower more kids and achieve the target of 7000 kits to be given out!

The recent Tiny Thinkers training of around 100 NLB Volunteers with guests Ms Low Tze Hui from IMDA and NLB KidsRead Manager Ms Pearle Chua.
The recent Tiny Thinkers training with close to 100 NLB Volunteers. Ms Low Tze Hui from IMDA and NLB KidsRead Manager Ms Pearle Chua and her NLB team posing with the Tiny Thinkers Team.

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. Tiny Thinkers is also featured on IMDA’s website here.

You can also join the Tiny Thinkers team as a volunteer or work with them as a corporate volunteer by filling up this form: https://forms.gle/ezNGx38Q6EYnZgWR6. You can also keep up to date with them on Facebook or Instagram.

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

 

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

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

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

 

IMG_0441 (2)Putting on their thinking caps

 

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

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

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

 

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

S.M. Computational Engineering, MIT
B.Eng. Elec. Engineering (First-Class), NUS
Director (Asia-Pacific), Danaher
Six-Sigma Black Belt, Caterpillar
R2 Technologies (Hologic), Silicon Valley


Yong Ning graduated with a Masters in Computation for Design and Optimisation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under a full scholarship and spent a year working in a technology startup in Silicon Valley prior to returning to Singapore, where he was born and grew up in.

Rapidly rising through the ranks and previously a Regional (Asia-Pacific) Director with a US multinational, he realised how big a part his coding knowledge helped in advancing his career. He continues to do programming in his free time as a hobby and founded Coding Lab®.

He is a highly sought-after expert and is on the expert panel of several educational publications in Singapore. His work on coding with children has been featured in various National media, including The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao. He has also been called upon as a consultant with various parenting magazines and is regularly invited to share his views at parenting talks and seminars.

M.A. Fine Arts in Creative Writing and English, University of Massachusetts
B.S. Computer Science, University of Massachusetts
Microsoft (Japan)


Brian was a software engineer at Microsoft for 10 years. He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a minor in Mathematics, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and English from the University of Massachusetts.

He taught for 3 years at the University of Massachusetts and has shipped numerous software projects at Microsoft ranging from operating systems, desktop applications, and mobile applications.

He now combines his passion for coding, technology, and teaching to help young kids discover the joys of coding.

M.S. Computational Finance, Carnegie Mellon
B.Sc. Computer Science (First-Class), NUS
VP, Credit Suisse, New York (USA)
Developer, EllieMae (Silicon Valley)


Li Jia had his first encounter with coding on an Apple II at the age of 5 and the rest, as they say, is History.

Moving on to Secondary school where he had loads of fun writing programs to solve various math problems, he credits his early brush with coding to having led him to where he is today, as a VP with one of the world’s leading investment banks, with more than 10 years of experience in the development of stocks and options trading software.

His hobbies revolve around coding and hardware, many of which are adapted into our coding classes for kids. His latest coding hobby (on top of his intensely game-changing work projects) involves building his home surveillance system – using Raspberry Pi.

Currently based in New York, Li Jia holds a Master of Science in Computational Finance from Carnegie Mellon University.