Here at Coding Lab, we have welcomed a myriad of students from all walks of life – and today, we would like to introduce you to one of our bright students who loves water polo and gaming: Chen-Yi! 

Image of Chen-Yi playing water polo

The Secondary 1 student is studying in his dream school Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) after entering through Direct School Admission (DSA) with Water Polo. He has been acing InfoComm, a compulsory academic subject in HCI, and his friends even frequently seek him out for advice!

Chen-Yi’s passion for coding has also caught the eyes of his Coding Lab tutors who acknowledge his budding potential. 👀 Absolutely incredible! Keep on reading to learn more about this ambitious individual!

Hi Chen-Yi! Tell us how you got started with coding. What do you like most about it?

I started self-learning how to code when I was in Primary 3 because I felt that it would be interesting to write my own programs and watch them work. I began with the basic programming platform Scratch, but while learning Scratch, I discovered Python, which to me seemed much more interesting than Scratch. Thus after finishing a Scratch course, I started to learn Python on my own using a book my father had bought for me. 

I like programming because I get to make anything I want. I could remix a simple game like Flappy Bird, or test my programming knowledge by taking on a more ambitious project. Programming is also able to help me in my daily life – for example, I got to make a program that prime factorizes a number, and this has helped me speed up my productivity while doing homework!

“Programming is also able to help me in my daily life – for example, I got to make a program that prime factorizes a number, and this has helped me speed up my productivity while doing homework!”

Your tutor Evan informed us that you’ve been experimenting a lot with Django this term! You have even created a few side projects on your own, which is super impressive! What has made you so interested in Django?

Image of Chen-Yi casual

I think that making a dynamic webpage is more fun than just a simple HTML static webpage. Django has also helped me to understand the workings behind some big sites. I made my project so that I could experiment with login pages and chatrooms. 

“Chen-Yi is an independent learner that has displayed commitment in learning the concepts. He has demonstrated that he understands the concepts taught in class well to apply and customise them into his web application. Despite being new to Django and Web Development, he is able to understand most of the concepts covered and takes the initiative to find out the possible projects we can explore by researching it himself during his personal time.”
– Tutor Evan

What difficulties did you face while learning to code?

To be honest I didn’t really know what I was doing in the first few months of learning how to program, and I only really picked it up after a year. At the time, I did not have a laptop or computer to work on, hence I resorted to writing code on

Surprisingly, I was still able to write programs even though I had to constantly switch between the tutorial app and the browser. These first steps, though slightly inconvenient, have made me even more resilient and determined to continue learning how to program. You could even say that those first few months were the “appetizer” to my love for programming now!

What do you like about coding classes at Coding Lab?

I came for classes at Coding Lab as being in a class allows me to learn more in-depth, under the guidance of professional teachers. In a class, I can ask the teachers questions, rather than Googling the questions on the internet, as sometimes you don’t get a straight-cut answer from Google.

As Coding Lab is far from my house, I opted for online lessons so that I am able to learn without difficulties! I like coding classes at Coding Lab as I am able to ask the teachers for help whenever I need it, and the answers I receive help me a lot.

The things that are taught at Coding Lab are also interesting and useful in real life, for example creating websites with Django as the backend server to process the database and retrieve the designs of the websites that are created using HTML.

Tell us more about ‘ZeroNET’, the app you made during your hackathon. What inspired you to make it, and what were the challenges you faced?

ZeroNET has a simple login and sign up system, and you can join a chatroom using a room code. I made it because I thought that login and sign up systems would be interesting to play with, and it would be cool to see how chatrooms function. After attending classes, I was able to implement more things into my website!

As an independent learner, I’ve also been experimenting with Django and have even created side projects on my own after reading up on Google and watching YouTube tutorials.

One of Chen-Yi’s amazing side projects, titled Teleporter. The program is about a robot-boy who can shoot bullets which, on exploding, create “glowing” particles. There are also portals that he can create and teleport with when the right-click is utilised, hence the naming of “Teleporter”.

Teleporter is one of my projects that enabled me to practice adding more effects into my games made with Pygame. I had felt that my other games were pretty bland and did not really have good enough graphics, so you could say that this project was for me to feel better and see how much I have achieved so far with Python.

It is a pretty basic game that can still be improved, however I have decided to stop working on it at the moment.

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

Programmers are able to help the society by writing software for more advanced equipment, for example medical equipment, which would allow doctors to better assess a patient’s illness. Learning programming has helped me personally too as I’m able to write my own program to help me solve math sums. Another scenario where programming has helped me was when I wrote a virtual version of the board game that my project work group had come up with.

“Learning how to program is important as the world is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, so by learning about programming, one would have more job opportunities in the future, and would be able to do more in the future than others who do not know anything about programming.”

Image of Chen-Yi and his dog

Do you see yourself continuing your passion of coding in the future?

Yes, I would probably take up a job in programming in the future. My current goal is to be selected to join the Computing Talent Programme offered to the Sec 3s and 4s.

Any advice for anyone who is learning how to code?

A word of advice would be to start exploring the programming language that you want to learn by looking at online tutorials and YouTube videos. If they think that that language is what they want to learn, they can then attend a course to learn more about the language.

Thanks for sharing your programming journey with us, Chen-Yi! 😃 We hope that your story inspires many other youths like you to take up coding and discover the endless possibilities that await them once they’ve acquired the skill! 

Chen-Yi has been attending classes at Coding Lab since May 2020 – from passing a placement test to enter Python Perfect 2, and then afterwards advancing to Python 3, to Python Perfect 3 and now S207: Modelling & Simulations!

Learn more about Python, a global top 5 programming language, here. Once you’ve got the foundations, you can find yourself building practically anything from software, to apps, to websites. 😉

(Written by Zulaikha)

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