Meet 11-year-old Leah. As champion at the code::XtremeApps:: (CXA) 2019 Hackathon (Junior Category) by IMDA, the Methodist Girls’ School student shares with us her coding journey so far – and how she intends to take it further.

Photo of Leah at the CXA 2019 Hackathon Presentation
Leah at the CXA 2019 Hackathon Presentation Ceremony. Photo from CodeXtremeApps.
Leah's ballet performance
The 11-year-old’s hobbies include dancing, where she participates in ballet performances. Photo courtesy of Leah.

Hi Leah, how did you get started on coding?

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.”

Leah's team, Eagle Eye, receiving their award
Leah’s team, Eagle Eye, receiving their award. Photo from CodeXtremeApps.

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!

Leah, 11, is a Primary Five student at Methodist Girls’ School. She started off with our Scratch holiday camp in 2019 and has since completed our ScratchYoung Computer Scientists and MIT App Inventor classes.

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!

(Written by Cheryl Tang)