Meet Alicia. At 16 years old and with just two years of coding, she came up with the novel idea of a program that would allow drivers to check the availability of public carparks – and breathed life into it in just two hours during her Data Analytics class. We finally got to catch up with our student, who took the time during her ski trip to Italy to respond to our questions.

Hi Alicia! Could you tell us about what your program does?

Alicia: It aims to help drivers check the availability of Singapore’s public carparks – all in real-time. The program allows the user to input the carpark number that they wish to park at. In response, the program will inform users of the number of lots available at the specified carpark. As such, the driver will be able to head to another carpark if that carpark was full, saving time and fuel.

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What gave you the idea for the program? 

Alicia: I remembered that there were several incidents where my parents encountered difficulties finding a carpark during peak hours and we wasted a lot of time driving around the area searching for an available carpark. It came to my mind that the data analysis program can be useful and convenient for carpark users to check real-time carpark availability beforehand. 

What were some considerations you had to factor in when making the program? 

Alicia: I considered my limited coding knowledge and decided to create a simple yet useful program. The program’s only function was to check for the carpark availability of the public carparks in Singapore which made it convenient and time-saving for the user. I hope to turn this simple program into an app that I can manage and upgrade in future, with more navigation functionalities.

“Don’t rush yourself to attain results and instead enjoy the process of learning!”

What were some challenges you faced when developing the program? 

Alicia: One of the challenges that I faced was processing the carpark availability data from the Singapore Government Data website. I had to manually go through the massive data and extract the carpark number and carpark availability by trial-and-error. Luckily, my Coding Lab mentor, Ms Mona Tan, was very patient and helpful. Whenever I faced problems in running the program, she will give me some pointers to guide me through my thought process.

Alicia, 16, a Nanyang Girls' High School student, picked up coding as she was inspired by the changes and solutions that arose from Artificial Intelligence and coding.
Alicia, 16, a Nanyang Girls’ High School student, picked up coding as she was inspired by the changes and solutions that arose from Artificial Intelligence and coding.

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

Alicia: Don’t be too ambitious when you have just started to code! It is important to have a final goal in mind when it comes to a project, however, it’s important to take it step by step to reach your final goal, instead of rushing towards your final aim. As you get more familiar with the programming language and more experienced in coding, you will be able to constantly upgrade your project, reaching your final goal eventually. Don’t rush yourself to attain results and instead enjoy the process of learning!

Alicia, 16, is a student at Nanyang Girls’ High School. She started off with our basic Python (S101) course in 2017 and has since progressed to S201 Data Analytics and C++ programming, where she participated in the National Olympiad in Informatics 2019.

She has also taken on various projects to simplify sales analysis and performance reports at her uncle’s organisation, and has plans to create an app to showcase his products. She is currently in the Nanyang Science Mentorship Programme with I2RASTAR, where she regularly applies the MATLAB and Machine Learning techniques she has garnered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coding Lab Student Feature: Josephine, 14, Raffles Girls’ School

Our team had the opportunity to catch up with our talented student, Josephine, 14. A member of her school’s Infocomm club, she started with Coding Lab in 2017, where she was first introduced to Python programming. She has since progressed upward and can now count programming in C++ as another skill under her belt. This humble and intelligent student shares with us her journey in programming and why she enjoys the challenge it poses for her.

Hi Josephine! Could you share with us how you got started on coding?

I started coding at the end of 2017, mostly due to school’s influence because I am in the Infocomm club. I like computers so I thought I might as well try coding and see if my interest lies there. So that is how I started researching on coding – lessons and which ones I can join. 

How was the learning experience and what did you like about it?

I started with Python and it was very fun! Honestly! It was new and it was fun. It was something other than school work so it was great. I guess afterward I became more and more interested so I kept continuing the lessons. And I think another part of Python that I really enjoyed was Python Perfect which was basically coding challenges. I would work on different challenges each week, to devise a solution to the problems.  I really enjoyed it and that kept my interest sustained. 

I started with Python and it was very fun! I really enjoyed Python Perfect which was basically coding challenges.

I know you are preparing for the NOI competition. How does it differ from your previous Python lessons?

NOI is a completely different language – which is C++. Initially, the first day was quite hard to convert over to C++ because the syntax is quite different. But right now I find it quite fun.

How does C++ compare to Python?

I think it’s the same. Both require logical thinking and designing algorithms. But C++, because it is an NOI lesson – the challenges are really hard. Harder than the Python ones. So they are quite hard to deal with and I feel like my brain is exploding sometimes (laughs) but it is still fun! 

How does it help you in school? Do you think it is an essential skill to learn? 

When I code in school, I do see some of my friends getting interested in it.  They will ask me about it. I told my CCA teacher that I am taking Python lessons outside of infocomm because Infocomm doesn’t do any Python lessons. I enjoy thinking – especially the application of school mathematics to Python. I get really excited when I see lines and lines of code (yes, really!).

I enjoy thinking – especially the application of school mathematics to Python.

What career would you like to pursue in the future?

I cannot very confidently say I would like to code for the rest of my life (laughs). But definitely more towards the area of Science. I think it is an extremely important skill to have because society is fast-paced now.

Technology is getting more and more advanced so in the future, it will be hard to survive in the world when you have absolutely no idea what is happening behind the computers, the AI, and the robots. 

Josephine, 14, is a student at Raffles Girls’ School. She started off with our basic Python course and recently attended our NOI preparation class this summer. The National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) is organized by NUS School of Computing annually to spur interest within the school community and to create more awareness among the students and teachers on the finer points of programming, which involves useful algorithmic techniques and problem-solving skills.