These days, programming forms an integral part of all aspects of our lives, from education to social media, banking and information. As Singapore works towards becoming a “smart nation”, the Ministry of Communications and Information has announced that an additional 30,000 ICT jobs need to be filled by 2020. While not every child wants a career as a programmer, learning programming is a valuable life skill for everyone. We have the experts Mr Deddy Setiadi and Mr Himmy Cheng, the co-founders of Tink Tank, talking to us about the benefits of learning programming. Tink tank is a local coding institution that aims to equip every child with programming knowledge and the power to create change. So, why should you get your kids started on their coding journeys now?
1. Programming build up problem solving and computational thinking skills
Coding is very sequential – you need to know what to write and why one code comes after another. Students will be able to make logical connections that can help them learn to analyse different situations and look at the big picture before drilling down to the smaller steps to reach the goal. Whenever they do hands on coding activities and face errors, students will learn to identify the problem and debug the programme. Mr Deddy says, “When children learn to code, they are also learning to think. These days, Facebook, handphones and programmable toys are embedded in children’s lives. They should also learn to understand the logic behind these technologies and move beyond being passive consumers to creators of technology.”
“I found the workshop very educational and interesting as it taught us about technology, computer programming and how to use our ideas in building up our own games!” – 10-year-old Saamiya Khan, who has benefitted from Tink Tank‘s workshop and regular classes.
2. Programming empowers children with confidence and creativity
Learning with the right tools is essential to creating a strong programming foundation. There are many excellent tools available in the market, such as Scratch, which is developed by MIT and can be used to create computer games and animated stories, to robotics tools like Dot & Dash and mBot. Mr. Himmy lights up when he recalls how his students felt so accomplished when they were able to see the games that they had brainstormed and planned on paper materialised as online games with the instructors’ guidance using Scratch. Mr. Himmy says, “That is why the students are constantly encouraged to express their creativity and challenge boundaries at Tink Tank,” For instance, a perennial kids favourite is the fruit piano segment where they code a virtual piano and play on the fruits by connecting it to Makey Makey, a tool that allows for indirect control of the keyboard. Now, who says a piano must be black and white?
“If your child has even a slight interest in computer, gaming, technology – Tink Tank’s program will open up a fun new world of coding through a series of games and using kid-friendly coding platform, like Scratch. The small class size is a plus, and compared to workshops my 8-year-old had done in the past, the instructors are stellar. My son is already looking forward to the next Tink Tank class!” – Parent of 8-year-old Cai Penn
3. Programming is fun and it develops important life skills
Though coding may seem very technical and possibly daunting, it is a myth that the skills gained are confined to the realms of the computer lab. Participants of Tink Tank’s programs are also developing important life skills, such as presentation skills, as they are encouraged to actively ask and answer questions in class, and will get the opportunity to present their final creations to their parents. Also, students are put through collaborative exercises that gives them the opportunity to work together, solve problems and learn from each other. To Mr Deddy and Mr Himmy, the growth of the students is more important than school size itself. They promise a 1:4 teacher-student ratio to ensure an intimate, hands-on learning experience, compared to the 1:8 ratio in the market currently. “We get really excited when we see our students grow, and we regularly communicate the student’s individual progress to parents. We want to go the extra mile for our students, “they concluded.
“The Tink Tank workshop has been an extremely engaging program for my daughter. The staff have made the “lesson” super interesting and more importantly, making learning fun! Kudos to the team!” – Parent of 12 year old Ivory.
Just as how Maths and Science shape our world now, our children’s world will be shaped by computers and connected devices. Computer programming has been increasingly incorporated into the Singapore education system, with a new O-level subject called computing introduced this year. As kids have an easier time picking up skills than adults, it’s important to get them started on their coding journey early. If your children have not learnt how to program, now’s the time to start.
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