For today’s student feature, we’ve invited two curious coders. Meet Isaac (aged 11) and Alicia Khong (aged 9), who won the Social Impact Award and People’s Choice Award respectively during the International Coding Showcase 2020, and also Judges’ Choice (Most Innovative) and Judges’ Choice (Best Design) respectively during the International Coding Showcase 2021! These clever and articulate siblings began their coding journey one after another, here at Coding Lab. Don’t miss this first-ever double-bill student feature!

Watch the video version of the Khong siblings’ interview here.

Tell us how you first got started with coding. What do you like most about it?

Isaac: When I was young, I often saw my father using the computer in his room. I was curious about what he was doing and asked him. When I found out that he was coding, I asked if I could start it as I was always fascinated by the computer.

I got my first Windows computer when I was in Primary One, and I started learning basic Scratch on my own with a book that my father had bought me. I was fascinated that you could do so many different things with the computer and I wanted to do more. My favourite part about coding is that you can ask the computer to do whatever you want to get a result.

Alicia: My brother started coding, and I felt that it would be interesting, so I followed him and started coding too. I like how it works – if you type something, and if the code is right, then something happens.

Meet the Khong siblings – Alicia (aged 10) and Isaac (aged 12)!

It’s awesome to hear that you were both inspired by family members! How did you decide to begin your coding journey with Coding Lab?

Photo of Alicia coding
Alicia started coding at the age of 7 and gets inspiration for her latest coding projects from her family.

Isaac: I was researching about coding schools when I found Coding Lab. Although I looked through many schools, Coding Lab caught my attention as it offered a huge variety of programming languages and had a structured curriculum.

Alicia: I saw my brother going to Coding Lab, and he said it was fun, so I tried Coding Lab.


How has coding made a difference in your life since?

Isaac: I have been coding almost every day and I have started to learn how computers work. Additionally, I have also started to teach coding to my sister. So instead of being just a user of technology, I have learned how to create new technology.

Alicia: It helps me develop a new interest, I can use my free time to make a new animation or platformer on Scratch.

Could you share with us why you think learning to code is so important?

Photo of Isaac coding
Isaac is passionate about harnessing tech to better our future – as can be seen from the projects that he codes!

Alicia: I believe learning to code can help me to organise my thinking.

Isaac: I think coding is important as the world is continuously moving and changing to a more urbanised and high-tech world. In the future, many things would be controlled with computers and computer chips. Learning to code allows me to create technology to contribute to society next time.


What are the difficulties you faced while learning to code and how did you overcome them?

Photo of Alicia by the pond
Aside from coding, Alicia is passionate about reading and writing, with a journal collection of her very own stories.

Alicia: While I was learning Scratch, I sometimes had difficulties trying to think of new and interesting project ideas, so I would ask my family members what animations they want to see.

Isaac: Some of the challenges I have faced are syntax errors, methods and functions. When I face these issues, I try my best to look for solutions and voice out for help when needed.

Do you have any advice for young people like you who are beginning their coding journey?

Alicia: When you start to learn coding, it may be quite difficult and challenging, but if you keep trying and learning, you will succeed. You will then have a new way of creating your own projects and ideas.

“Alicia is a studious and brilliant learner who is able to adapt to new areas of knowledge swiftly and effectively. Her ability to do this led to her picking up advanced Scratch skills and even the intricacies of the Micro:Bit hardware in no time. She is always able to understand the concepts taught in class, and is a helpful girl who takes part in class discussions to promote the learning of fellow classmates.”
Educator Hovan

Screenshot of Isaac Khong presenting his FIFA Python program for International Coding Showcase 2021
Isaac is an avid coder and FIFA fanatic (this screenshot shows a snippet of his impressive FIFA Python program!) who enjoys reading books and watching documentaries in his free time.

Isaac: I would encourage young people to learn coding as technology is forming the future like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain. Start by learning simple programming with blocks and Graphical User Interface (GUI). Some websites and tools you can use to begin your coding journey include Scratch, Lego Mindstorms or Micro:Bit. This enables you to have a strong foundation in coding. You can then continue with App Inventor and Python to enhance your skills. This way, you can learn coding more productively just like how I progressed through the Coding Lab syllabus.

“Isaac is a very responsible and independent student who has shown great understanding in programming. He displays great interest in programming and is very attentive to detail. With a strong and stable foundation in coding, Isaac displays self discipline and great concentration. He shows great enthusiasm towards learning and on many occasions, I have seen him attempting the challenges before the rest and he is helpful and willing to share his knowledge with his classmates.”
Educator Edmund

Click to watch Alicia’s International Coding Showcase 2020’s Scratch project, “Catch the Balloon”, which won her the People’s Choice Award!

View Isaac’s entrepreneurial budgeting Python project (which draws graphs for you) that he submitted for the International Coding Showcase 2020 here!

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Alicia and Isaac. Hearing about your growing passion for coding certainly warms our Educators’ hearts – and our readers’ too!

Until next time – we look forward to your future achievements, Isaac and Alicia!

The Khong siblings’ coding journey is an example of how childhood interest, when nurtured, can blossom into a useful new skill. Through the shared learning experience of coding, their bond has become stronger than ever!

Isaac Khong began his journey at Coding Lab with our App Inventor and Python Junior courses in 2020 – and progressed through our S200 Advanced Electives (for ages 13 to 18) by the time he was 12. Isaac was awarded the Social Impact Award in our International Coding Showcase 2020 and Judges’ Choice (Most Innovative) in our International Coding Showcase 2021.

Alicia Khong’s first coding class was Scratch One in 2020, and she got to hone her coding capabilities in our Young Computer Scientists. She’s now delving into App Inventor! Alicia, 10, was awarded the People’s Choice Award in our International Coding Showcase 2020 and Judges’ Choice (Best Design) in our International Coding Showcase 2021.

Our #CodingLabStudents series features our ambitious students and their ongoing coding journeys – be it the budding coder or advanced Python Pro, we appreciate each and every single one’s efforts as they progress to greater heights. 🌱

Coding Lab offers an award-winning curriculum specially for ages 5 to 18 – check out our courses to begin your own coding journey today!

(Written by Zulaikha and Lixin)

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