Look around you. It’s everywhere. It determines how we live, how we communicate, how we function. It has changed our lives. Our Prime Minister has it, Bill Gates has it, Mark Zukerberg has it and a whole list of iconic people have learnt it, used it and virtually changed the world with it. Best of all, we – you, me and our kids, can all learn it, master it and change the world with it. It’s like learning an instrument, a new language, a new skill. Once you master it, the world is truly your oyster.
Yes, I’m talking about the latest buzzword in 2016: Coding.
Everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think!” – Steve Jobs
The future that we know:
As parents, sometimes we lament about how we can prepare for our kids for a future that we ourselves do not know of. Well, we can be certain that technology and computer programming skills will be increasingly indispensable in the new world our kids are growing up in.
In a recent report by Straits Times, it was highlighted that there is currently a high demand for jobs that need coding skills. That demand is expected to rise as the future closes in on us with more of our daily lives and work requiring the use of ICT (Info-Comm Technology) as a solution. Pause and think about it: We are already typing more than we physically write…including authors and publishers themselves. THAT’s how prevalent technology has been and it will continue to be. Computer programming and coding will become THE backbone of modern living as we know it.
In September 2014, England was the first country in the world to make computer programming a compulsory school subject at all levels. In 2015, the Australian government has endorsed a new school curriculum that makes coding and programming classes compulsory for children as young as eight. In Finland, starting fall 2016, coding is a mandatory, cross curricular activity that starts from first year of school. Other European countries have also introduced coding classes to their compulsory educational curriculum as computer skills are increasingly viewed as essential to developing key “21st century competences”.
Watch this powerful video which shares why is Coding important:
What is Coding:
In short, it is computer programming using computer language.
But more than just typing strings of codes, the real skills our children will learn include:
- Critical thinking: How do we improve our lives? Others’ lives? How do we improve what we have now? How can we critically assess and make our world a better place?
- Logical thinking: How to predict an action or thought and its consequences.
- Prediction skills: From basic (e.g. the ‘Whats’ ) to Intermediate (e.g. the “What ifs’) to the advanced (e.g. the ‘How to’ or to analyze and evaluate)
- Problem solving skills: how to evaluate and provide solutions creatively to meet changing needs.
- Team Building skills: To provide solutions, one has to work with others and leverage on each others’ experience and perspectives.
How young can children start?
As long as a child is able to do the following:
- Understand simple instructions in English and is able to follow them
- Able to do simple maths (additions and subtractions)
- Familiar with simple typing and the use of the laptop or computer
A good age to start learning coding (in our opinion) will be 7 and up because a certain amount of focus and processing of information is required.
Where can my child learn coding?
Certain schools are already introducing coding as CCAs but if you like to give your children that added experience or a head-start, consider the coding classes offered by the good and knowledgeable folks at Tink Tank Sg. Tink Tank SG is set up by a group of youthful and inspirational young people who have a passion and diverse backgrounds in coding.
When Dana was invited to attend Tink Tank’s First Line of Code’ workshop on Labour Day, we were a tad apprehensive not knowing what to expect (will it be too difficult for her? will it be too technical and boring?). The workshop was such an eye-opener. When we joined in (yes, parents are encouraged to join in mid-way), we were very pleased to see her so excited and motivated to code her own game right, evaluate the game, play it, problem solve to eliminate ‘bugs’ then refine it further…all through coding.
It was pretty impressive that the trainers at Tink Tank Sg managed to expose the kids to a wide range of computer programming activities in that short span of time. If you think coding is all about sitting in front of the screen typing a string of funny characters, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s a brief of what Dana and her friends learnt at the ‘First Line of Code’ workshop:
- Using Lightbot to understand sequential logical thinking and the basic concept of procedures and debugging
- Playing with Coding Board Games such as Coding Farmers and Code Monkey Island to learn basic Java script, basic concepts of Boolean (true/false) and concept of variables.
- Use Makey Makey invention kit to turn everyday objects into touch pads and combine them with the internet. The kids had fun playing tunes with bananas!
- Introduced to basics of Robotics and the programming language Blockly with mBot and Dot&Dash
- Use of Scratch software to write their very own first line of codes and apply programming concepts to create their own games
Well, if all these sound ‘alien’ to you, don’t fret. The Tink Tank SG team was very kind to invite parents to witness the games which our kids have created (within half a day!). We also participated in the Coding Farmer Board Game – a snake and ladder-like game which requires players to apply their knowledge of simple coding conventions. We ended the day with a ‘musical showcase’ of sorts where music was played via bananas…yes, bananas hooked to the laptop and programmed to play music! Surreal and impressive.
What was truly commendable were the trainers. As with learning anything new, it is very important that children experience small successes and have fun in order to encourage and enthuse them further. The Tink Tank team did an excellent job. They were able to relate to the kids, engage them effectively and have the ability to simply the coding concepts to levels which the children can understand. They were patient in answering the children’s questions and facilitated the sessions in small teacher to student ratio (1:4). When the kids encountered a problem, they challenged the kids to come up with alternative solutions by applying the coding knowledge without ‘spoon-feeding’ them.
What we truly like about this coding school is that they have a noble vision in mind – To equip every child with programming knowledge so that they will have the power to create change (to provide real world solutions to real world problems through coding). In today’s digital world, programming language is the new literacy. Rather than showing children how a computer works, Tink Tank SG will teach them how to make a computer work for them. It is their desire for every child they teach to have fun with coding and learn to be creators and change makers, rather than passive consumers of technology. How awesome!
Tink Tank SG’s broad range of coding courses that cater to basic, intermediate and advanced level learners. Their structured lessons are planned with a tried and tested syllabus with tools designed to appeal to young learners. Their layered curriculum builds up technical competencies as our children go through their Scratch Coder, App Inventor and Web Creator classes.
SPECIAL READER PROMO
FIRST LINE OF CODE WORKSHOP!
To give all kids a flavour of what Tink Tank offers, Tink Tank will be offering all our readers a special promotion to the May 29, 2016 ‘First Line of Code’ Workshop! You can choose from two time-slots available, a) 8.30am-12.30pm OR b) 1.30pm-5.30pm. Parents will be invited to sit in from 12pm or 5pm respectively for the kids presentation.
To register for the workshop, go to this Event Brite Page, key in the promo code: ANGELINEDISCOUNT and you get to enjoy a special rate of only S$25 (instead of U.P. S$150) for this special 4-hours workshop! Seats are limited, on a first-come-first-served basis.
3 DAYS JUNE CODING CAMP
Date: 14, 15 and 16 June 2016
Time: 1.30-4.30pm (3 hrs each day, 9 hrs in total)
Venue: Park Mall, 9 Penang Road, #13-05 Singapore 238459
- Creativity Exercies (used in Harvard Graduate School of Education)
- Board Games
- Makey Makey
- Scratch Programming
*Each child will be required to bring their own laptop, if you do not have one, please let the Tink Tank team know early. Parents will be invited for a parent presentation at 4.30pm on the last day (16 June 2016).
UPDATED: NOV/DECEMBER CODING WORKSHOPS!
Tink Tank’s year end coding workshops have just been launched! Your kids will learn to create their own computer games with Scratch in our First Line Of Code workshop, and their own mobile apps with our My First App workshop. Let your kids be exposed to the world of coding today.
Date: 3 Dec and 17 Dec 2016 (Sat)
Time: 08.30am to 12.30pm (First Line of Code Workshop); 1.30pm to 5.30pm (My First App Workshop)
Venue: 190 Clemenceau Avenue, Singapore Shopping Centre, #02-31 Singapore 239924
Fee: S$150 per child
Suitable for kids 6years and above
Sign up links:
Teach kids how to code and you give them a skill for life” – Forbes Education.
Thanks to our sponsor, we have two Nov/Dec Tink Tank Coding Workshops on 17 Dec 2016 (worth SGD150 per child) to be given away to 2 loyal readers. To participate, simply do the following:
1. Like Tink Tank’s Facebook Page
3. Complete the final steps in this Rafflecopter widget:
The giveaway ends 09 December 2016, 11.59pm and is open to readers in Singapore. The winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. No requests for change in workshop date/time will be entertained.
All entries will be verified before the winner is announced, incomplete and unverified entries will be disqualified. Please note that all Facebook and Instagram accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no authentic posts or very few real friends) will be disqualified. All the best!
Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the ‘First Line of Code Workshop’ in June for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and photos are, as usual ours.