#sgcoding

Meet Lucas Loh! – His Learning Journey with The Lab Singapore

Meet Lucas!

Lucas is not your typical 11 year old. Like many boys his age, he loves his computer games  – but he is also passionate in programming.

His mom quoted, “He loves playing coding games (particularly Clash of Code)”.

“Coding is sometimes fun and sometimes difficult. If you can solve the question, you feel good.” says Lucas.

Early Beginnings

Lucas’s journey began at an early age with a robotics school in the East.

“I love Lego and my parents enrolled me into a robotics school while walking in a shopping mall one day!”

Unfortunately, as much as Lucas loved Lego/robotics, his journey was cut short as the learning environment did not suit him.

Months later, Lucas’s mum came across The Lab Singapore and enrolled him. Since then, his skills and enthusiasm have gone from strength to strength.

Lucas has been a student of The Lab since 2019. His humble beginnings of programming begun with The Lab Junior Program for ages 7-9 years old. Lucas did not start out as a star. He was a normal student like anyone else. He was not the fastest or smartest in class. Yet, it was The Lab’s learning style that allowed him to thrive in the class. 

The Lab strongly believes in learning without boundaries. What that means is that we give students the required amount of time for them to learn and understand, especially when programming can be quite complex. Each student are given their individual tasks and leaning journey. Through this way of learning. Lucas blossomed.

To date, he has completed The Lab Coder Program and is now in The Lab X Competitive Programming Course. 

Last August, Lucas competed in one of the largest coding competitions in Singapore, the Coding Olympics Singapore 2022, held by the Singapore Science Centre.

More than 100 primary schools in Singapore with thousands of students participated in this single event and Lucas emerged as one of the winners under Category B. 

Days before the competition, he said nonchalantly “The practice questions are so easy!”.

The Lab is highly fortunate to have aspiring programmers like Lucas who enjoy coding and appreciate The Labs unique teaching style.

We hope that Lucas’s story will inspire more young coders to take up programming and one day be as passionate as Lucas!

What does Lucas wants to say to you, aspiring coders?

“You must have interest to do coding because it takes a lot of patience. MOST IMPORTANTLY, never give up! “

What does Lucas’s mom has to say about us?

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Coding Olympics Singapore 2022 – The Lab Singapore Winners

Congratulations to our Coding Olympics Participants!
 

On 6 August, 42 of our students set out to compete in one of the biggest coding competition in Singapore, the Coding Olympics Singapore 2022*, held by the Singapore Science Centre. All of our students have fought very hard and we are proud of those who have participated. <Remember, it is the experience that counts!>

We have emerged victorious with 3 of our winners bagging the Category A and B of the competition among the thousands of participants across Singapore.

Congratulations to them for a job well done! It is an incredible milestone for these young coders and an inspiration for our students. We hope to see more of our students participate in the competition next year.

Once again, congratulations to all!

* The Coding Olympics Singapore is prized as Singapore’s largest National Coding competition for kids (ages 8-12 years old).

 

Create DSA Portfolios by joining competitions:

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DSA Process

One of the common questions Parents usually ask us is DSA. DSA stands for Direct School Admission. It is an entry into secondary schools before taking the PSLE. Because it is an admission without PSLE grades, competition is highly stiff to vie for the few precious spots specially in prestigious schools. Students are meant to showcase their talents in sports, CCAs and specific academic areas, depending on the schools they are applying for.

Below is the road map on the DSA process:

For more details, you can visit the MOE website at https://www.moe.gov.sg/secondary/dsa

Also, here are some links you may wish to read on how The Lab Singapore can help your child in his/her DSA process:

https://www.thelab.sg/how-can-the-lab-singapore-help-in-my-childs-dsa-application/

https://www.thelab.sg/a-guide-to-dsa-direct-school-admission/

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Lego Mindstorms EV3 vs Spike Prime

Spike vs Mindstorm

Should I buy the new SPIKE Prime or get a second hand Mindstorms for my child?

Did you know that the infamous Lego Mindstorms EV3 has been officially retired as of 31 June 2021? It has been with the Lego Robotics family for 8 years! SPIKE Prime is the latest lego education robotic kit ready to replace the Lego Mindstorms EV3.

Let’s compare the difference between Mindstorms and SPIKE Prime.

Mindstorms

SPIKE Prime

Hardware

Odd Shape

 

Have a more rectangular shape

Improvement
Overall easier to build with SPIKE Prime Lego.

Gyro Sensor
A sensor that detect movement.

A stand alone sensor with drift and lag issues

Built-in gyro sensor with no drift and minimal lag

Improvement with SPIKE Prime
– The built in gyro sensor for SPIKE Prime is more reliable than Mindstorms gyro sensor.
– Do not need to plug in the gyro sensor so 1 more port available.

Touch Sensor
Touch Sensor is an electronic sensor that can detect touch

There are three modes of a touch sensor in Mindstorms. They are Released (default), Pressed and Bumped (i.e. pressed, then released).

SPIKE Prime’s touch sensor has the function of Mindstorm’s touch sensor and also act as a force sensor. It can measure pressure of up to 10 Newtons.

Improvement with SPIKE Prime
– SPIKE Prime’s touch sensor also act as a force sensor.

User Interface

Diagram based coding interface

Scratch-like block coding and Python available

Improvement
There is no clear winner as both are not perfect. Nevertheless, if we must choose, we prefer SPIKE Prime as it prepare Kids for programming in text-based programming languages.

Charging and Download Cable

Stand alone charging and downloading cable

2 in 1 cable for both charging and downloading

Improvement with SPIKE Prime
– 1 cable for both charging and downloading

Cable for Motors and Sensors

Stand alone thicker black cable with different length

The white cable that connects both the sensors and motors are non-detachable and thinner.

Improvement with SPIKE Prime
– Wires are easier to manage when attached to the motors and sensors.

Port

4 inputs (sensor) port
4 output (motor) port

6 universal ports that can be used as both sensors or motors

Improvement with SPIKE Prime
– Can plug in the sensors or motors on either side of the SPIKE Hub is an improvement

SD Card Port

The SD Card Port increases the available memory for Mindstorms Brick by maximum of 32 GB

Not available on SPIKE Hub

Tradeoff
– Code fails to download with very large programs
– The latest version of the software provides a warning when the limit is reached and does not allow you to download the code to your robot

Batteries

Can use the special rechargeable battery that comes with the brick or six AA batteries.

You can only use the special Rechargeable Battery that comes with the Hub and the SPIKE Prime Set. The battery is charged using the micro USB cable that’s included in the set. The Rechargeable Battery is also available to buy as a separate item (45610 – LEGO Technic™ Large Hub Battery).

Tradeoff
– Battery must be connected to the hub to charge. As a result, you cannot have extra batteries on the side charging (i.e. you must own another hub to charge the extra battery)

Resources

Many available for Mindstorms

Few resources for SPIKE Prime as it is a new.

Tradeoff
There are few resources or SPIKE Prime now but many available for Mindstorms. However, new resources for SPIKE Prime are coming out every week.

Bugs
A software bug is an error, flaw or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways

Mindstorms had bugs but mostly addressed throughout the years

SPIKE Prime is new. There are constant updates coming in all the time to fix bugs. Need to constantly install the updates

Tradeoff
SPIKE Prime will have bugs and it needs to be constantly updated

Mindstorms Brick vs SPIKE Hub

With menu navigation and allow you to change some settings.

With light matrix technology that doesn’t offer any high resolution display and limited menu navigation.

Tradeoff
Although the Mindstorms brick is a bit old school, we prefer to have a brick that have more control

If you have the Lego Mindstorms EV3, you can continue to use this great product to learn Robotics and Programming. There are several online resources available for self learning at home. Nonetheless, we won’t advise you to buy a new Mindstorms as Lego has stopped production. This means that replacement parts would be hard to find. Though Lego SPIKE has its flaws, it is generally a new product and in time to come, it would be as wholesome as the Mindstorms in terms of its online resources and also software bug issues.

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Developing your child’s fine motor skills

Every baby has an innate curiosity to explore the physical limits of their body when they’re born. Generally, they are able to roll over by the age of four months and hold items by eight months. During these early stages of their life, your child develops motor skills.

What are motor skills? Motor skills are movements and actions of the bone structures. There are generally two groups of motor skills — gross motor skills and fine motor skills. As your child learns to walk, run, jump and play ball games, they’re developing gross motor skills, which engage the large muscles in their arms and legs, as well as improve the coordination of their entire body. On the other hand, when your child writes or zips clothes, they’re developing fine motor skills which make use of the small muscles in their fingers and toes.

Importance of fine motor skills

When your child is able to coordinate their fingers and toes, they are able to complete simple everyday tasks on their own as well as use tools like scissors and pencils. Furthermore, your child’s handwriting and cognitive learning abilities will improve.

Developing fine motor skills

As your child starts to develop fine motor skills, they need your unending support and patience in guiding them along the way. Here are some possible activities you can do with your child:

Quick and easy tools found at most homes: Tweezers, clothes pins or chopsticks. Use tweezers, clothes pins or chopsticks to pick up and sort objects like beads, cereal, cotton balls, pompoms or other small objects (watch closely for choking hazards).
Provide them with a variety of art supplies like chalks, crayons and finger paints when they are drawing and unleashing their creativity.
Encourage them to use utensils when eating. It is normal for children to mess up when they are initially learning about using utensils, so do be patient towards them.
Let them play with small objects like beads, marbles and Lego pieces. Since Lego pieces come in all forms and proportions, attaching Lego pieces together require fine control of the strength of the smaller muscles. Hence, playing with Lego pieces will improve your child’s dexterity.

The more your child practices using their smaller muscles, the better their dexterity and strength. Hence, introducing some fun activities and games involving the use of small items will go a long way in building their fine motor skills.

So, why don’t we start ‘training’ our fingers with our children, starting from today?

In The Lab, students age 5-9 years old learn coding with the use of Lego robotics. Connecting the bricks with precision and detail strengthens fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination. Picking up LEGO pieces with their fingers builds muscles and skill your child may need when holding and controlling a pencil to write or draw. Curious to understand or learn more about our programs?

Sign up for a complimentary trial class now!

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