Meet 13-year-old Tan Jake Ian, who has always been passionate about technology. Like most boys his age, Jake loves playing computer games – but also creating them!
As one of Coding Lab’s first students back in 2016 who was personally mentored by our founder, Yong Ning Foo, we are proud to see the bubbly student grow into a teenager and achieve a place in his dream school. Hear what the confident and intelligent coder has to say about his DSA experience and coding journey (so far).
Hi Jake, tell us a bit about yourself!
I am Jake, and I am 13 this year. I currently study at NUS High School of Math and Science, and I first came to Coding Lab when I was 8 years old.
“Be prepared that coding will challenge some of your puzzle-solving skills.”
How did your coding journey begin?
I initially started coding because my father thought it was an important and useful skill. After I started, I found that I agreed with him. And not only that, I began to really enjoy coding and wanted to continue! At first, I have to admit I thought that coding was easy. I even thought that developers of games such as Minecraft only had to join a few blocks together to make their game, just like I did in Scratch. Of course, I realised that this was not the case later on, but I still had a lot of fun doing the debugging challenges and questions in class!
It sounds like you have been coding for a while! What’s your favourite program so far?
It would likely be the Tower of Hanoi solver. It is a solver where you have to move disks of different sizes from one tower to another with restrictions. I like the clever usage of it, and how I can modify my program to have different amusing outputs.
(Press play below to run Jake’s Tower of Hanoi solver!)
“Coding should be fun, and even homework can be enjoyable too!”
Congratulations on entering your dream school! How do you feel about getting into NUS High School of Math and Science?
I feel really happy that I got into my top choice! I’m very excited for their science and tech programmes, since they are unique and different from that of other schools. I’m also looking forward to making new friends and having a great time!
What was your Direct School Admissions (DSA) experience like? Do you have any advice for others? I’m sure many other hopeful students are keen to know about it!
DSA was a whole new experience for me, especially the interview portion! I had never done an interview for admission into a school before, so I was very nervous – but excited to fulfil my dream! My teachers really helped by giving me some advice on what to prepare for, and my ability to code enabled me to stand out from others. I personally recommend watching some interview guide videos for those taking DSA, such as how to answer commonly asked questions such as “Tell me about yourself” or “What are your weaknesses?”
Since you’ve been coding for some time now, what would you tell kids who are starting to code for the first time?
I would encourage them not to worry! Coding should be fun, and even homework can be enjoyable too! I like how my coding classes at Coding Lab are lighthearted and fun. The content is taught in a fun and engaging manner, but be prepared that coding will challenge some of your puzzle-solving skills.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to be a doctor! While coding may not seem related to the medical profession at the moment, I think that there are plenty of opportunities for integrating programming into hospitals in the future. For example, Artificial Intelligence and robots could help to distribute medicine or diagnose patients with less serious symptoms, which would allow doctors to treat critical patients. I really hope to be a part of this Medtech (medical technology) industry someday!
Tan Jake Ian, 13, is a Secondary One student at NUS High School of Math and Science. He was one of Coding Lab’s first students when he was 8 years old, where he started with Scratch. He excelled and showed great potential, and has been in our Gifted Coders class ever since. We celebrate his achievements and look forward to what he will accomplish in future! We’ll be supporting you every step of the way, Jake!
I turn 13 in July, and I have just started studying at NUS High School of Math and Science. I first got interested in coding when I came to Coding Lab in Primary 5. This led me to choose to attend NUS High as they have a module for computational thinking… and most of my friends are going there as well!
How was your initial coding experience?
When I first realised coding was a thing, I was slightly confused and didn’t really know what it was about. I only knew that you could code games. However, in Primary 2, when my friend said that he was reading a book about coding, I got interested in the topic and decided to find out more. Since then, I was fascinated by coding and after joining Coding Lab, I have deepened my understanding of programming immensely enough that I want it to be a part of my future career.
“Even if it seems hard now, in the future, it will get better and your hard work shall be rewarded!”
What is your favourite coding experience so far?
I really enjoyed participating in YCGH 2020. At the time, it was the largest project I had done, and I worked hard on it. In the end, my hard work paid off! I got a Merit award and got into the Top 5 finalists.
Is there a favourite project or program that you’ve done up?
My favourite project was probably a school administration system that I made using Python in my free time. The school administration program basically stores a list of students and teachers, and you can add students and teachers to the list and remove them as well. It could be used to manage teachers and students who have joined the school. This actually took a few weeks for me to code, which was quite a long time to me back then, as most projects I did back then didn’t really take too long to finish. It was quite fun to make and I really enjoyed it.
What would you say to other kids who are starting out coding for the first time now?
I would probably ask them to follow their dreams and to never give up. Even if it seems hard now, in the future, it will get better and your hard work shall be rewarded!
What do you like most about your coding classes?
I like that Coding Lab provides a great atmosphere to learn coding and even make new friends. The lessons are fun and immersive, and in case you need help, experienced coaches will always be by your side.
What do you want to do with coding in the future?
I might get a job that involves coding in some way, or enrol in a computational thinking course. I would definitely continue joining coding competitions, as I think they’re fun and can also help to improve my understanding of coding as a whole. They also teach me several important moral values such as resilience and perseverance.
Kieran Ho, 13, is a Secondary One student at NUS High School of Math and Science. He started out with App Inventor when he was 11 years old, and has since quickly breezed through Python. He is brimming with potential, already taking on the Advanced Electives under our S200 series (recommended for ages 13 to 18).
Our dearest Coding Lab students in Singapore and Japan submitted their best projects through our International Coding Showcase (ICS) for the whole world to see! Conducted 100% online, ICS showcases our students’ talent through projects that they have done independently or through Coding Lab’s exciting courses.
Our young coders aged 7 to 18 showed their tenacity and creativity in their Scratch and Python projects and we have no doubt that our bright participants will be going places in life! Learn more about our winning future leaders of technology and their awesome projects below.
Category: Scratch Ages 7-9
1st Place: Enea Testa
Hobbies: Playing with my brother, reading books and coding! In my free time, I like to build things (for example, I built a zip line made out of rope, magnets and toilet paper roll) and play with my iPad.
How did you start coding? When my parents asked me if I had wanted to join an after school club, I thought that coding sounded interesting and I ended up liking it and continued doing it the following year.
Why did you join ICS 2020? Brian, who is one of my coding teachers (at Coding Lab Japan), told me about the ICS competition and I thought it sounded fun so I picked my best project and used it.
What have you learnt? I have learnt how to make and edit videos. As a coder, I had to think that I was not coding for myself. For example, the original game Jump did not have any instructions and I had to think about how I could help other users understand how to use it. I added text to most levels to explain what the new parts do and how to use them. It was also nice to see other participants’ projects because they gave me ideas for future projects, like how to make videos and how to present them.
The contest inspired me to continue working on my own project that I presented and I was motivated to improve the game by making new levels and adding new features. Now, I am really glad I joined because my game is now much better and enjoyable.
Future coding aspirations: I would like to get better at Scratch and learn another programming language. I would also like to continue working on my game Jump and make new games on Scratch. I’m not sure about what I’ll do in the future but it will probably be coding-related because I really do enjoy coding!
Category: Scratch Ages 7-9
2nd Place: Itta Oba
Hobbies: Coding and gaming. I create games in my free time.
How did you start coding? I thought it was very interesting, so I made the effort to start coding.
Why did you join ICS 2020? I wanted to be able to showcase my own projects that I have worked hard on to everybody!
What have you learnt? I found out that there are so many other people who are creating projects on Scratch! The best part was being able to record the video of me showing what my game is about.
Future coding aspirations: I would like to try and program with Python!
Category: Scratch Ages 7-9
People’s Choice Award: Alicia Khong
Hobbies: I like to make Scratch games (I have 200+ games in my account!). My favourite activities include reading Harry Potter books, playing the piano, playing scooter and inline skating at the park.
How did you start coding? I started being curious about computers when I kept seeing my parents and older brother spending quite a lot of time on their laptops. I always wondered what they were doing and what a computer can do. Then, I started to pay more attention to my brother when he was learning Scratch. I got really interested in it and kept asking my brother many questions on how it works and how I could learn more.
Why did you join ICS 2020? I like to see the different Scratch projects that my friends and classmates create. It is interesting to play their Scratch games and learn from each other. It has also encouraged me to try my best to create a new game so as to share it with more people.
What have you learnt? I have learnt to source for more information like pictures, colours and ideas. I have also tried many ways to improve my Scratch projects by trial and error. The best part is learning how to present my project and speak confidently in front of the camera.
Future coding aspirations: I want to become an author who writes books that tell stories, make games and teach robotics. This year, I plan to create a Harry Potter game with as many characters as possible.
Category: Scratch Ages 10-12
1st Place: Nicolo Testa
Hobbies: I really enjoy reading. I normally read fictional books and in my free time, I like playing on my iPad. My favourite game is Roblox where I play in the available environments, but I also enjoy designing in the Roblox Studio with my brother Enea (who came in first in the 7-9 category).
How did you start coding? My mom informed me that there was a coding club at my school (Yoyogi International School) and I have always wanted to code, so I joined.
Why did you join ICS 2020? It seemed fun and because I really like coding, I really wanted to join ICS. It was also a good opportunity to make a video for a wide audience and I always wanted to try that. It was real fun!
What have you learnt? I learnt how to make videos and I can say that it is not an easy thing to do. As a coder, this competition has helped me to code differently. I had to think about other people playing the game so I had to design the game with some user interface. For example, I added different game-modes and I also made a version for my little cousins Ettore and Elia in Italy.
All ICS participants were very good and watching their videos and their projects gave me some ideas for my next game. In my opinion, the best part was making the video because I like recording and editing.
Future coding aspirations: I recently started to code with Python and I would really like to continue with it. I have also started using the turtle module and I can’t wait to make my first game with this. I also learnt a bit about making games with App Inventor.
On Scratch, I’m making a studio called Cat Series with my brother Enea, Itta (who came in second in the 7-9 category), and another friend named Noah.
I also study space and would like to be a space scientist!
Category: Scratch Ages 10-12
2nd Place: Wang Jun Min
Hobbies: My hobbies are playing computer games, coding, creating games, exploring Maths and cycling.
How did you start coding? I started when I was in Primary 1 by participating in a holiday programme (Scratch 1). From there, my interest was ignited and I started experimenting more on my own. I went on to join regular classes the following year!
Why did you join ICS 2020? My teacher encouraged me to participate, and I had already coded many projects. I had started coding a new clicker game just before the deadline and I wanted to give it a shot. I felt it was a good opportunity to practice my presentation skills as well.
What have you learnt? I saw a wide variety of games from the other participants and it inspired me to diversify the games that I code.
Future coding aspirations: I hope to be a game designer in future. I may even want to combine different genres of games to create a new type of game!
Jun Min previously won 3rd Place in our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020 (Junior Category). Read his feature here.
Category: Scratch Ages 10-12
People’s Choice Award: Andrew Goh
Andrew previously won Merit (Best Storyline) in our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020 (Junior Category). Read his feature here.
Category: Python Ages 10-12
1st Place: Kyran Tan
Hobbies: My hobbies are reading, coding and playing online games such as Roblox. I sometimes create my own Roblox game using Roblox Studio and Lua Programming. I will also occasionally create some Python projects for my own use.
How did you start coding? My mother introduced me to Scratch Junior when I was 6 years old. It is a program where I can drag and drop blocks to create a project. I was fascinated with what Scratch could do and was hooked on coding ever since.
Why did you join ICS 2020? I joined the International Coding Showcase as I wanted to make full use of my school holidays and challenge myself to create a project that is both practical and useful.
What have you learnt? As a coder, I learnt not to give up, even if I am faced with challenges. I have also learnt how and where to find the resources for my project, such as StackOverflow and YouTube. I got answers to my questions through these sources, and even learnt other new things along the way.
The best part of participating in ICS 2020 was not only the self-satisfaction I derived from solving problems, but also the enjoyment and fun that I got from video editing, something that was totally new to me at that time.
Future coding aspirations: I am planning to create another program for people who use Maths frequently in their lives.
I have a huge interest in coding, so my future occupation will definitely be coding-related. I hope to be a software application developer, where I can create, test and upgrade apps for others to use.
Category: Python Ages 10-12
2nd Place: Keian Teh
Category: Python Ages 10-12
People’s Choice Award: Dhanvin Mohan Ram
Hobbies: My hobbies are reading, watching Minecraft coding channels and experimenting with different apps.
How did you start coding? I started coding in my school CCA (Robotics Club) as I was keen to understand how coding works and to experiment with different robots and machines.
Why did you join ICS 2020? My parents encouraged me to join ICS 2020. Since I had a short time to meet the deadline, I submitted a Python project that I had coded earlier.
What have you learnt? By participating, I learnt to create a video presentation for a project. From the other participants, I learnt how to improve my presentation skills and also got to learn the Define, Listen For functions and new files for importing to Python.
Future coding aspirations: I would like to create Robots that can be used in the medical field. In my free time, I would like to be a Minecraft coder and post videos on YouTube about it.
Category: Python & Electives Ages 13-18
1st Place: Kieran Ho
Hobbies: I like reading, but mostly, coding.
How did you start coding? I started coding after being introduced to it by a friend when I was in primary school. Ever since then, I have fallen in love with coding.
Why did you join ICS 2020? I decided to join ICS as I was quite bored during the holidays and decided to try something fun. I also felt like I should try it out as I like coding, and I want to show my coding skills to more people.
What have you learnt? I liked ICS as there was enough time for me to complete the project, and it was fun seeing the other participants’ projects. I think this allows us to see more of others’ work, to gain inspiration after the competition for possible future projects. The best part was finally finishing the presentation and knowing that I had completed my project. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.
Future coding aspirations: I might consider participating in the next coding competition, and possibly pursuing a coding-related job in the future.
Kieran previously won Merit (Most Promising Young Coder) in our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020 (Senior Category). Read his feature here.
Category: Python & Electives Ages 13-18
2nd Place & People’s Choice Award: Kenneth Gunawan
Hobbies: My hobbies include playing table tennis with my dad, playing the saxophone, watching movies, playing video games, and of course, coding.
How did you start coding? I began learning how to code by myself when I was around 13. I was learning C+, but I didn’t really enjoy it as it was quite difficult to keep up with, so I took a break until I began learning again when I was in quarantine. I began learning Python with Coding Lab, and I’m super satisfied with where I am now and how much I’ve learnt.
Why did you join ICS 2020? My mom was the one who shared with me about ICS. By that time, I had already made the program that I wanted to share. I love being able to share my projects, and I’m happy that I won a prize for doing so.
What have you learnt? I used PyGame to code my program, so I had to learn how to use it. I actually taught myself PyGame before I went on to learn it again in Python Perfect 3. Besides that, I also had to learn how to create a video, things like recording the screen and my voice at the same time, which took me a while.
Future coding aspirations: I’m always looking forward to learning more Python, and I hope I’ll be able to use it to create a useful program that anyone can use in the future.
The Coding Lab team would like to extend our deepest appreciation to all of our participants. It was truly a joy to see them growing in abilities and confidence, and we hope that our students continue to nurture their talent and love for coding.
Sarah will be starting her first year as a Computer Engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) – which is ranked #18 globally for computer science subjects – on a 4-year scholarship! Read on to find out how she managed to achieve this incredible feat.
From our previous interview with Sarah Go in 2018, we got to know about how she clinched the Honourable mention at the National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) within just less than six months of learning how to code! Fuelled by her passion for coding, Sarah spent her winter holidays as a student tutor volunteer at Coding Lab to inspire the next generation of coders.
Q: Hey Sarah, it’s been a while since our last interview with you. Congratulations on getting a scholarship to UT Austin! What were your feelings when you first got to know about the scholarship?
Sarah: I was definitely very happy! Initially, I wasn’t expecting a scholarship because I was applying as an out-of-state student to UT’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) program. 90% of spots are reserved for in-state students, and UT’s ECE program is considered prestigious in the US. So even admission is very competitive – not to mention a scholarship! – and this knowledge makes me feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to my school as well.
Q: What did you do to ensure that you stood out from the rest of the other applicants?
Sarah: There were many other qualified applicants, and even the admissions committee can’t specify what ensures an applicant will receive a scholarship.
I didn’t have to go for any interviews or submit any additional materials as I was automatically considered for a scholarship with my application to UT. I can say that I put a lot of effort into maintaining a good academic record and producing quality work in school, especially in my research projects.
And outside of school, my extracurricular activities – particularly my experience in Coding Lab, which I wrote about in my college essays, certainly contributed as well.
Q: What were the Coding Lab classes that you took and how have they brought you to where you are now?
Sarah: I took the Python Meets Mathematics course and honestly if I didn’t take that course I wouldn’t even have chosen ECE as my major! I went into Coding Lab as a total coding newbie and honestly was feeling quite ambivalent towards coding when I went to my first lesson.
I found the course material accessible and easy to understand, and I got to use the programming knowledge I learned in fun mathematical applications right from the start.
At the end of my first lesson, after just a couple of hours, I was so enthralled with coding that both my parents and I were surprised! But beyond the course material, what truly sparked my interest in coding was my teacher Mr. Yong. He’s an incredibly dedicated teacher, and his guidance and enthusiasm towards coding not only made me look forward to every lesson but, three years later, has ultimately motivated me to go into computing in college and maybe even as a career.
Q: How do you plan on making the most out of your time, now that things have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Sarah: Well, like many other students around the world, I am pretty much stuck at home this summer due to Covid-19. Fortunately, there are so many readily available resources be it educational and recreational on the internet that I have hardly been bored! I’m reading ebook versions of classics that have always been on my reading list, and have also been self-studying Chinese. I have also stuck to my goal of learning at least one new computing-related thing every day, which has definitely helped keep me busy and productive. Today, for example, while doing some problems I encountered a neat algorithm called the Boyer-Moore Majority Vote Algorithm. While reading about the algorithm, I learned that it was a UT professor that co-invented it, which is super cool!
Q: What are you looking forward to the most when you start university?
Sarah: I really look forward to meeting other students at UT; not only ECE students who share the same interest in computers as me, but also other students in different majors, all of whom have very diverse cultures and backgrounds. I also look forward to meeting professors at UT, who have done amazing work in their fields! As for my classes, I’m quite excited about learning more about the hardware aspects of computing, because I’ve really immersed myself in programming these few years. I believe these aspects of my university experience will be a real eye-opener for me.
Q: Any words of advice for budding programmers out there?
Sarah: My first advice to budding programmers is, honestly, to keep coding! That may sound kind of silly, but coding is one of those things where the best way to learn is by doing, or in this case, programming. Every time you learn something new, grab some problems or projects off the internet – or maybe think up something yourself – and create a program to try it out! I also think it’s good to keep challenging yourself. Sometimes, easy programming problems can be tempting, but you learn the most from hard problems – problems that seem complex and maybe even beyond your abilities.
By continually pushing your boundaries, you’ll expand your knowledge and eventually problems that you once found difficult will become doable.
And also – it’s completely fine to encounter difficulties and spend hours debugging a program. Just keep in mind that coding is a lifelong journey, and like a rollercoaster ride, while there may be ups and downs, it’s a lot of fun as well!
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.
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.
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!
I started coding during a one-week holiday programme at Coding Lab. It was an activity to keep me occupied during the December school holidays since my family did not plan any vacation. Classes were fun, so I asked my mother to sign me up for more. My Coding Lab teachers are really helpful, especially when I don’t understand something or if there’s a bug in one of my codes. The lessons are really interesting because they are about the ever-changing world, like climate change and reducing pollution.
“The world has a big amount of coders making a difference in the world and I want to be a part of it.”
What inspires you to continue coding?
What I like most about coding is that I am able to make games and educate people about what is changing and how to deal with the changes around us. Many children like games, so they can have fun while learning.
Coding makes me feel like I am a part of the world, and that I’m not being left behind. The world has a big amount of coders making a difference in the world and I want to be a part of it.
Share more about a program you have created. What were some challenges faced when creating it?
I once created a Scratch project about cell division, but there were many challenges that I faced. I didn’t know how to start because I thought it was too complicated. Thankfully, I was able to complete it with some guidance from my teacher.
“Coding might seem complicated at first, it’s fine to make mistakes.”
How was your experience at the Code XtremeApps 2019 hackathon like?
This competition helped me to learn how to work in a group and it made me more competitive as this was my first real competition. I felt well prepared with the classes that I had taken at Coding Lab where my tutors would guide us like mentors by constantly giving us challenges to code and solve. They are very encouraging and supportive! This helped us to win. I felt very proud of myself and my teammates when we won first place.
What do you hope to accomplish next in programming?
I hope to make more cool games in the future for people of all ages to play. For example, Geometry Dash. I would code the looks of the obstacles, the colour and when the character jumps. I would want this game to be published on the App Store without any supporting website. I hope that my programming can help people with their needs and entertainment.
What advice would you give to young coders who are new to coding?
Coding might seem complicated at first, it’s fine to make mistakes. Just know that your teachers are there for you and will be happy to help you in any way possible!
After noticing her creativity in class, Leah was encouraged to compete in the CXA 2019 Hackathon. Her team emerged as the Champion, motivating her to take her coding to the next level. The outspoken young girl is always up for a challenge and we look forward to all her future coding projects!
Meet Christian. At only 12 years old, he has already breezed through our roadmap and attended our Python Perfect classes (which we recommend to 13-year-olds and above), where he coded an impressive Pokémon game on his own.
His story has been featured on the Tiny Thinkers blog before, which covered how the special needs child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and gradually found his passion for programming. We talk to the young boy, who is part of Eunos Primary School’s Robotics Club and aspires to be a professional coder, as he continues his coding journey with us.
Hi Christian! Could you tell us about your program?
Christian: I started it in class after I finished my Python assignment from the teacher. I would continue to work on it as a reward whenever I finished my in-class assignments early! The program is like playing the Pokémon game without the graphics, so it’s all text-based in Python.
What gave you the idea for the program?
Christian: Everyone else seemed to be coding something practical, I suppose maybe because they were older. I didn’t really know what practical stuff I could code, so I decided to do a simple Pokémon program because I was playing it quite a bit on my Nintendo Switch.
What were some difficulties you faced when developing this program?
Christian: I ran into a lot, of course. There was one when I asked to view the Pokémon in my party, and all the letters would split up. It took me a while to realise that I was missing a function. Generally, attending classes helped me to solve what I needed to know but the Coding Lab teachers also taught me what I didn’t know codes could do. They also gave me hints on what could have gone wrong with my codes, suggested more efficient ones, and even gave me ideas on how to improve my program.
“Start small, start with something you like. Keep going and don’t give up!”
Do you have any future plans for your program?
Christian: Currently, I am preparing for the dreaded PSLE. But I’m looking to add more features to my game, and to modify it to a more MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) style that I enjoy playing. It’s still not completed yet, so I just want to finish it and run it. Hopefully, after I finish my program, I can get some beta testers who can give me suggestions on how to improve.
What advice would you give to young coders who are new to coding?
Christian: Start small, start with something you like. Keep going and don’t give up!
He aspires to be a professional coder in the gaming industry and to work at Google someday. It is evident that Christian loves coding, and it is one of his many strengths. We’re sure that he will do great, and we look forward to seeing his future programs!
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.
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.
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!
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 I2R, ASTAR, where she regularly applies the MATLAB and Machine Learning techniques she has garnered.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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