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).

Photo of Jake, 13 years old, at his birthday celebration cutting his cake
Jake celebrates his 13th birthday!

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!

Read and Watch Lianhe Zaobao Feature: Our Student, Jake, 9 Years Old shows his chops in <<A Little Somebody>> feature

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?”

Jake when he was 8 years old, talking about his love for coding

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 Year 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!

(Written by Nicole Loo)

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