A zine by
Keeping kids curious since 2012 PLAY FOR THE FUTURE
THE LOWDOWN ON PLAY-BASED LEARNING by Soon Jia Wei Perhaps you've been hearing about play-based learning as an alternative to ‘traditional’ learning methods like rote learning, or how play helps kids develop life skills like communication, collaboration, and leadership. We all know what play feels like, and know it when we see it. But what do we actually mean when we talk about play? In this article, we explore these questions and take a closer look at play as a basis for learning. Play has been a significant part of human life throughout history. Critical theorists like Montessori, Rousseau, Froebel, and Dewey believed in the importance of play for young children’s learning and development, advocating child-centered education, a secure environment for play, and hands-on experiences for children. What exactly is play-based learning? According to the Early Years Learning Framework, play-based learning is ‘a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects and representations’. In other words, play-based learning is process-oriented, and a natural pathway to exploration and learning. Types of play-based learning Play-based learning can be classified into two broad-based categories: free play and guided play. Both are important and valuable for kids, to somewhat different ends. Free play is unstructured, child-directed and internally motivated, making it especially beneficial for the development of social competence and self-regulation. It could include drawing, playing make-believe, climbing a tree or playing at a playground. It's unstructured, and typically excludes the use of electronic toys, into which structure and objectives are embedded by design. On the other hand, guided play is typically supported by adults, and geared towards a specific learning goal. That said, it's important to ensure that kids retain a degree of control even as adults prepare the environment or guide the process. From the outside, this can look a lot like free play as children retain autonomy, facilitated on the sidelines by adults.
In This Issue... STORIES, PUZZLES, COMICS, PROMOS & MORE
So why does play-based learning matter?
"Play is the work of a child." - Maria Montessori
1. Play develops kids' cognitive development. Play-based learning promotes cognitive development as children use their brains more effectively when they are engaged, as they are when they play. For instance, children can develop language skills by interacting with their peers and adults during play. This is especially so if adults facilitate play, asking questions, encouraging conversations and introducing unfamiliar words to
Welcome to Issue 2 of The Curiosity Chronicles - our analog love letter to all things curious at the intersection of childhood, education, tech and impact. Our small team at Saturday Kids put this together so that it might spark meaningful conversations about how kids learn, the purpose of education, and the exciting potential of technology. As a social enterprise, our mission is to inspire kids to use code to create a better future, for themselves and for others. This zine is our way of making the case for that, and of inviting people like you to join us. Have a read, share this with a friend, and let us know what you think. Stay curious, The Big Kids of Saturday Kids
The Lowdown on Play-based Learning
MEET THE ROCKET LAUNCHERS
BEHIND THE SCENES
CODING FOR PRESCHOOLERS
BEYOND LEARNING TO CODE
JUST FOR FUN
CURIOSIT Y CHRONICLES
PLAY FOR THE FUTURE
Damar and Pichamon from Saturday Kids Japan
Introducing Code Meets World: Applied Coding for Big Ideas
A Peek into Bubs and Bees: Buzz with Beebot and Scratch Jr
What Aspiring Software Engineers Should Know
Crossword For big and little kids FRIENDS OF SATURDAY KIDS: ABHISHEK BAJAJ
Breaking Bread, Building Community, and Enabling Strengths
THE KIDS OF CITCx
SATURDAY KIDS AT 8
What They Learn through an Interdisciplinary Approach to Coding
Access and Opportunity through Digital Literacy
What Play is
What Play isn't
Child-led: A child voluntarily chooses to play, how they’ll play, and for how long
Directed or prescribed by an adult
Process-oriented: There is no end or learning goal. Instead, the process of learning is emphasised
Unstructured: A child has ample time to explore and discover during play. Kids are directed by their own interests, not by prescribed rules or fixed plans
A quest for the "right" answer
Voluntary and enjoyable: This emotional aspect is important, as such emotional connections make for long-lasting learning
A focus on typical academics like letters, numbers or other skills
children. Children can also learn about academic subjects like Math or Science through play. This could look like an accidental mix of Cola and milk, or a field trip to the garden. Experiences like these expose children to the phenomena of the world, providing opportunities for organic inquiry-based learning. 2. Play in developing socio-emotional skills Through play, kids can learn and practise managing their emotions, connecting with others and building healthy relationships. Play teaches children to navigate and overcome difficult situations. An example is a role-play game of “hospital”: Beginning with the premise of a toy puppy who didn’t wash her hands and got the rest of her friends sick, a series of events in the “hospital” ensues. Games like this can help children process events in their lives, preparing them socially and emotionally for the future.
Play can also instill in children useful competencies like conflict management. It's common for squabbles to break out during play disagreements about who goes first, who gets which toys and who plays with whom. These present organic opportunities for children to learn to resolve conflicts, an essential skill in life. Another important aspect of play is risk-taking. Riding a bicycle for the first time is frightening - risky, even but the experience teaches children to overcome their fears to reach their goals, building character in turn. Similarly, climbing monkey bars incurs the risk of falling, yet risky play has been proven to make children safer, calmer, and more attentive in the long run.
At Saturday Kids, our curriculum centers around guided play as a medium for kids to test out and apply the concepts they've learned. In doing so, they own their own 'a-ha' moments, and play an active role in their own learning. We do this not because play is the latest buzzword, but because it comes naturally to kids, and is one of the best ways to learn not just about a topic, but about how to learn.
3. Play develops physical well-being Outdoor exposure and physical activity improves children’s physical wellbeing, enabling the development of fine and gross motor skills such as balance, dexterity, energy, stamina and flexibility, among others.
Scan the code to find out more about our play-based approach to learning!
MEET THE ROCKET LAUNCHERS
DAMAR AND PICHAMON OF SATURDAY KIDS JAPAN by Chloe Chew
Here at Saturday Kids, we’ve somehow lucked out with instructors who think beyond the box and inspire us with their passion for kids, learning, and tech. Like Damar Masato Hadisumarto and Pichamon Lertsakuncharoen, rocket launchers (i.e. instructors) at Saturday Kids Japan, and all-round multi-hyphenates. Based in Tokyo by way of Indonesia and Thailand respectively, here they share how and why they’re passionate about redefining learning in the classroom and the importance of learning beyond it. By way of an introduction, what are both of you passionate about?
hands of young children, the new generation.”
Damar: “Wow, that is a big question! I am passionate about programming and education – especially together. I’m passionate about reinventing the way of learning – one that is in the
Pichamon: “Like Damar, I also enjoy teaching kids – when I see kids learning and growing, it motivates me and makes me happy. I also enjoy business research and marketing.”
What led you to teach at Saturday Kids?
do whatever they want, using their creativity.
P: “I learned about Saturday Kids from Damar and believed in the curriculum.
I support what Saturday Kids does, so I really like working here.”
For example, rather than simply learning from the textbook and following what the instructor tells them to do, Saturday Kids teaches kids to use design thinking through hands-on activities. And the kids can
D : “I agree! Saturday Kids doesn’t suppress kids' curiosity, but instead embraces it. In other schools, I’ve seen children’s test scores on the wall – that’s SATURDAY KIDS
incredibly stressful for the kids. I don’t feel that learning should be like that. Here, kids learn to develop a growth mindset, and that’s why I enjoy teaching at Saturday Kids.” Beyond school and teaching at Saturday Kids, what do you two get up to? P + D : “We recently participated in two hackathons. Our first – the Infinity Blockathon – was held online and hosted in Vietnam. The challenge was centered around the medical supply chain in developing countries, and we came up with a block-chain based solution. Ultimately we managed to win the challenge! Our second hackathon was launched by Mitsubishi Fuso – a truck company aiming for zero carbon emissions by 2030. They were seeking ideas to achieve that goal, and fortunately, we were able to win again.” That’s amazing. What made you want to take part in these hackathons, despite your already busy schedules? P: “I thought, this is my last year in university – why not do something memorable with my friends, have some fun together, and learn something new along the way?”
D : “I knew that we could do something really great with this graduating fourth-year university team, that’s why I felt that it was a great opportunity to participate in something together. Although we were quite busy at times, I felt that it’s a really good chance to experience something we are all passionate about, and have a last big adventure together.” P: “Yes, because the chance to participate in big events like these are rarer after you graduate.”
from my mistakes.” What inspires and motivates both of you to do so much outside school and work? P: “I feel that there’s a lot more to learn
There's a lot more to learn than what schools can teach you. You can always learn new things through different experiences.
able to receive once you graduate. And, no, I’m not just talking about student discounts. If people know that you are a student, they are more likely to help you out. Once you become a working adult, I think that sort of privilege slowly runs out. You should really take advantage of this as much as you can, for as long as you can.”
What did you learn in the process of participating in these experiences beyond school? P: “I learned how to manage time better. Because we had a time limit to work with, we needed to do everything quickly. Moreover, I learned to trust my friends – that they would do their part while I did mine, so we can make something great together!” D : “Teamwork is very important. And my most memorable takeaway wasn’t just thinking of new ideas, but actually about implementing and doing them.” P: “I learned a lot through my work teaching at Saturday Kids, too. Other instructors here always motivated me, and showed me that there’s always room for improvement and to learn
than what schools can teach you. Not everything is confined to what you’ve learnt in school – participating in all these events and activities gives you a lot of experience. Mentorship, the real world knowledge you gain from working adults, the advice they give you – schools don’t teach you these things, you can always learn new things through different experiences.” D : “Other than gaining new skills – students should make use of their privileges as students as much as they can!
We call our instructors Rocket Launchers because they point out the stars and provide kids rockets. Keen to join our crew? There’s always room for more room onboard our rocket ship - meet the rest of our team and learn about career opportunities here.
As a student, there are so many different privileges that you won’t be
INTRODUCING CODE MEETS WORLD
APPLIED CODING FOR BIG IDEAS by Tan Yee Hui
humans, then every engineer will need to learn more about the liberal arts and every liberal arts major will need to learn more about engineering.”
This programme – like all our others – won’t improve kids’ grades overnight. But if we’ve done our job, it will make kids more curious about the world around them, and empower them to apply their coding skills to address problems they’re passionate about solving.
In other words, there’s a need for learning to be interdisciplinary. That’s because most urgent or wicked problems are not one dimensional; if they were, they wouldn’t be so difficult to solve!
Engaging kids across the board with multiple entry points.
To take on the world’s biggest problems, problem-solvers need to learn and think widely, from a diversity of perspectives.
All kids should have a fair shot at creating their future (it belongs to them, after all!), and we believe that a powerful interdisciplinary tech education will play a large part in shaping their opportunities to do so.
As Brad Smith and Harry Shum of Microsoft wrote in The Future Computed, “If AI is to reach its potential in serving
While planning Code Meets World, we defined our target students broadly. We wanted to teach kids inclined towards
Interdisciplinary learning makes for better problem-solvers.
CURIOSIT Y CHRONICLES
the humanities, arts, and design; kids who want to be programmers; kids who are just a little bit curious about code and its applications; and kids in less-developed countries who are hungry for a brighter future for themselves and their communities. These profiles are wide and diverse, but we built Code Meets World for each and every one of these kids to realise and apply the positive possibilities of code, and to provide the tools and environment for them to discover the fullness of their own potential. Built for impact. With this pilot, we’re doing a few things differently: • Rigorously collecting data and feedback to evaluate outcomes for students across dimensions, so we can iterate where necessary to meet the programme’s objectives. • Designing remote-friendly curriculum, opening up the possibility of delivering the programme to curious kids anywhere in the world.
• For the first time, donations to our Pay it Forward fund allowed us to kickstart classes with an equal mix of fee-paying students and graduates from Code in the Community, which provides free coding classes to kids from lower-income families. The journalist Angus Hervey describes the current situation the world is in as a ‘great turning’, where we’re concurrently standing at the cusp of impending collapse and immense possibility. Whether we’ll be able to pull through to solve the world’s wicked problems – like climate change and income inequality, just to name a few – will hinge on whether the power of tech is channeled to the right places. At this point, we can’t afford for tech to work in silo from the rest of the world. And if you agree, we’ll see you where Code Meets World.
Scan to find out more about Code Meets World.
BEHIND THE SCENES
CODING FOR PRESCHOOLERS by Sandra Yim Fun fact: Did you know that preschoolers (and anyone, for that matter) can learn about coding without screen time? Read on to find out more with a sneak peek into our introductory course for preschoolers - Bubs and Bees: Buzz with Beebot and Scratch Jr, which mixes tangible programming with onscreen coding.
characters come to life. They can even create their very own original games that they can play together with friends.
Preschoolers are naturally curious, creative, and full of energy. Instead of mitigating those characteristics and propensity towards play, why not channel them to tap on kids’ innate learning potential?
Make friends with your first robot. BeeBot is an award-winning little robot designed for use by young children. Colourful and easy to operate, it teaches young kids programming concepts, directional skills, math and more, in a fun-filled way. Kids build their critical thinking and literacy abilities by programming BeeBot to dance and draw cool geometrical shapes. Collaborating with classmates, they’ll get creative designing an obstacle course that they’ll then programme Beebot to complete. Get creative coding stories and games with Scratch Junior. In the next part of the course, kids translate the tangible programming concepts they’ve learned to an onscreen program called ScratchJr, an introductory programming language that enables young children to create interactive stories and games. Kids learn how to code on an iPad by snapping together programming blocks to create interactive animations where
At Saturday Kids, we’ve designed Bubs & Bees for preschoolers ages 5-6 years old in a way that combines hands-on, screen-free activities with on-screen programming - wrapped up in a playful package. Preschoolers are naturally curious, creative, and full of energy. Instead of mitigating those characteristics and propensity towards play, why not channel them to tap on kids’ innate learning potential? It’s on that premise that we develop our courses. Childhood is precious, and there’s no rush for kids to grow up. At Saturday Kids, we believe in playing for the future, and Bubs & Bees: Buzz with Beebot & ScratchJr is the place to start.
Learn more and discover our courses for preschoolers here!
BEYOND LEARNING TO CODE
WHAT ASPIRING SOFTWARE ENGINEERS SHOULD KNOW by Tan Yee Hui Across industries, companies are clamouring to hire software engineers, and correspondingly, hungry individuals are clamouring to fill those roles. Naturally, there’s an influx of kids and adults wanting to learn how to code so as to leverage that prospect. And while it’s true that the ability to code opens many doors, it’s a common misconception that all you need to be a software engineer is programming skills. Our friends Yan Fan and Kani Munidasa from Code Chrysalis – a software engineering bootcamp – should know, having trained and placed numerous fresh software engineers in Tokyo, Japan. At a recent webinar, they shared their insights about the tech industry and what people eager to pursue a career in software engineering should know. Here’s the the lowdown. Beyond learning how to code, here’s what you might not know about becoming a software engineer. Mindset is key. Being a software engineer is a constant battle of learning new things. Aside from the need to pick up new technologies, libraries, and frameworks, software engineering is all about learning what you need to know to solve new problems and build solutions. As such, a growth mindset is key, and is what enables anyone to stand out in a sea of technically competent people. While a computer science degree or a coding bootcamp can help you develop mastery of programming theories or languages, the industry is constantly changing. Technical chops aside, perhaps the most important quality a prospective software engineer should develop is that of being an autonomous learner, i.e. the ability to learn how to learn. Soft skills like empathy and communication matter (much) more than you think. A large part of being a software engineer is being a part of a larger team driving the product that you’re building. Beyond programming, the role involves receiving and leveraging feedback, being able to see things from different perspectives, and collaborating with various stakeholders – from designers, product managers, marketeers, to other engineers. To navigate this smoothly requires interpersonal skills that have traditionally been under-valued in the tech industry. Moreover, in a time of remote work,
communication and empathy are more important than ever. It's now not unusual for new hires to have never met their teammates in person, or for meetings to be held remotely. And so knowing how to communicate and relate to a remote team – and remote customers – goes a long way. The world needs more software engineers from non-traditional backgrounds!
Leverage free learning resources before making a big commitment. There’s an abundance of educational content out there for people who are curious about learning how to programme, and a lot of it is available for free. Signing up for a coding bootcamp is a significant investment of time, money, and energy. With all the free resources available online, there’s
The need to value soft skills and diversity in tech is more important than ever.
There’s a lot that we could say about this, but in a nutshell: Product teams need to be as diverse as the users they’re building for. Having diverse perspectives at the table enables a product to grow to its full potential. That’s an issue and a need in the tech industry that schools like Code Chrysalis (for adults) and Saturday Kids (for, well, kids) are addressing. The reason for this is simple – that you don’t know what you don’t know, and bringing more diverse experiences, knowledge, and perspectives to the table can only serve to help a product cover more bases. That’s not to say that more boys shouldn’t learn to code, but rather that having someone from an under-represented group that wouldn’t typically be exposed to programming (for example, an underprivileged female or a non-binary person) has a ripple effect that positively shakes up the status quo. As you can tell, we’re here for it.
no reason why an adult eager to explore a career switch should start from zero before committing to a paid programme.
So now that you know what you need to be a software engineer, what’s next?
Do your homework and know what you want.
Here are a few suggestions from Kani and Yan, the co-founders of Code Chrysalis.
Learning to code opens lots of doors; and while choosing a vocational bootcamp or course, it’s important to educate yourself about the outcomes they’re preparing you for. For example, the ability to code is necessary for both data scientists and software developers. But coding aside, the two roles require very different skillsets. While the former is research-oriented and data-driven, the latter centers around building and problem-solving. Perhaps it goes without saying, but knowing your inclinations and strengths and doing your due diligence will enable you to make decisions about your learning and career with more clarity. With great power comes great responsibility.
CURIOSIT Y CHRONICLES
Tech has a more pervasive role in our lives than ever before, and this influential power seems only likely to grow in the future. With the ability to code comes the privilege to play an important role in inventing and building the future, and that’s not something to take lightly.
That’s why Code Chrysalis aims for (at least) 50% female representation in each cohort, and why Saturday Kids is dedicated to creating more access and opportunity for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, infrastructure-poor communities, and women and girls in tech. So, what do aspiring software engineers need to know beyond learning to code? In short: being an all-rounded, empathetic, independent and collaborative human being. Coding is a superpower but it only goes as far as the person wielding it. Use it well!
Learn more about Yan, Kani, and Code Chrysalis by scanning the code.
JUST FOR FUN
Did you manage to complete the puzzle? Snap a picture and email or tag us on Instagram and we'll send you a prize! Deets on page 11.
Ziggy ________ (8), David Bowie's alter ego.
A turntable technique employed by DJs, and the name of an block-based programming language for kids. (7)
The name of a region associated with coffee-growing; also the name of an object-oriented coding language. (4)
A language commonly used for beautification and styling that kids learn in Code Meets World: Applied Coding for Big Ideas. (3) Hint: The answer is on page 4.
A non-screen approach to learning programming for kids through physical tinkering. (8) Hint: Check out page 5 for a clue.
Every child's intrinsic superpower. (9)
The subject of a Pink Floyd anthem and the emphasis of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4. (9)
10. 'Saturday' in Japanese; also the name of our sister ed-tech company. (6) 11.
One of our favourite toys for building prototypes, used in our design thinking coding camp. (4)
The absence of this makes Jack a dull boy; also the subject of our cover story in this issue of the Curiosity Chronicles. (4)
12. _______ (7) is not a dirty word, but a steppin' stone.
Where seedlings are incubated within a controlled environment. (10)
13. Nakameguro, the Tokyo neighbourhood our Japan office is based in, is known for the seasonal blooming of these flowers. (6)
very safe when I’m with them. Going deeper into these relationships helped me find my kids’ different gifts and skills. They are competitive and very present in their daily interactions, with the desire to have as much fun as possible now. They are not as concerned about the future as they are focussed on what the present holds. As community workers, we’re trying to equip them to survive in a larger economy and environment that’s different from what they’re growing up in.” What role does education play for the kids you work with in rental blocks?
FRIENDS OF SATURDAY KIDS
We need to respect kids, honour their opinions and not take away their dignity. Even if their opinions and values don’t align with your objectives, it shouldn’t stop you from creating an environment where they can succeed – that’s our duty as adults.”
Sometimes doing good and making an impact is really not as straightforward or as simple as it may seem. While we’ve been running Code in the Community and working with corporates to run programmes for under-privileged kids for years, we’re continually learning about ensuring the impact we make is sustainable and meaningful for all involved, especially the kids.
Hey Abhi - could you tell us about your role as a community worker? “I’d call myself an enabler who plays the role of facilitating relationships between different groups of people.” You come from a technical background in data science. How did you end up doing the community work that you do now?
Sense.” What does community work mean to you? “Community work is definitely a two-way relationship. You’re not just giving to someone. I’m learning from the community as well about how to live, and how to have an impact on someone else.
“My journey began when I was growing up in India when I was younger – I lived in a community of families where we all knew each other. At 5.30pm, without fail, we’d all go out and play, and we’d all be well-fed and cared for wherever we were. I missed that when we moved to Singapore.
I wanted to understand the lived realities of communities and learn about what it’s really like on the ground, which led me to join Beyond Social Services as a community worker. That set me on the journey I’m on now, where I work with a community of families living in rental blocks at Kebun Baru through an organisation called 6th
CURIOSIT Y CHRONICLES
“In school, their learning focuses on theoretical academic skills, and isn’t always aligned with their lived realities. I believe they would blossom in a system that’s more child-led – where they can set their own objectives, and express their emotions and needs clearly. My wish for my kids at the age of 7-12 is to have a huge range of free play activities. To be able to practise their imagination, and never feel that there’s nothing they can do. I wish for them a sense of possibility to be and do whatever they set their minds to. Not just in the future, but in the present. What would benefit them is a child-safe area in rental blocks; currently, there’s no psychological safety there. It’s nearly impossible to learn and play in that environment.” What advice do you have for wellintentioned students or corporates who are eager to volunteer to help disadvantaged kids and families? “There are a lot of well-intentioned people who want to help. What I would advise them to do is: Break bread with the families. Sit and eat with them. Suspend your own value systems. Try and see things from the family’s point of view.
While studying, I worked on a carbon credit project in Sumatra and started volunteering with a non-profit organisation called Ground-Up Initiative. These experiences helped me connect with something I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Later, I did research projects investigating the effects of play on kids and the lived experience of people living in rental blocks.
People generally want to help and see Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a pathway to reaching communities perceived as vulnerable. I think there are some important questions to ask before planning a project: Who defines what is good? Who owns it at the end of the day? What, really, is your agenda?
When I meet the kids I work with, time goes by in a blur. Their raw and pure emotions help me reconnect with my childhood identity – it means so much to me. I feel
Start with where communities are, instead of where you are. Explore from the lens of a child, for example, and then try and understand where your programme or activity fits in.
Underprivileged kids should not be seen differently from privileged kids – all kids have so much potential.
by Tan Yee Hui
Here, Abhishek – who spends his time enabling the strengths of families in this neighbourhood and being abang (brother) Abhi to the kids in this community – shares what he’s learned from his experience, and suggests where those of us who want to support kids in high-need communities should start.
Leaders need to create the right container for these conversations.
It really all starts from the conversation you have with a child.
ABHISHEK BAJAJ ON BREAKING BREAD, BUILDING COMMUNITY, AND ENABLING OTHERS
Thankfully, we get to befriend and learn from change-makers who dedicate themselves to working with kids in high-need communities day in day out. Like Abhishek Bajaj, a community worker who runs 6th Sense, a ground-up movement to respond to community needs in Kebun Baru, a rental flat neighbourhood in Singapore.
It really all starts from the conversation you have with a child.
Many corporates do CSR from an accountability perspective; that’s not wrong, but it’s not always the most impactful way to approach social impact work.
Whether you’re an individual, corporate or student volunteer looking to do good – we hope Abhishek's story offers a thoughtful starting point to approaching social impact programming for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. If you’ve got further thoughts, comments, or insights, we’d love to hear from you. Scan the code to learn more about 6th Sense.
THE KIDS OF CITCx
WHAT KIDS LEARN THROUGH AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO CODING by Ashley Ong CITCx is our take on an interdisciplinary approach to coding with an impact. Via donor-funded scholarships for kids who've graduated from Code in the Community - Singapore’s biggest free programme offering coding classes to kids in Singapore from disadvantaged backgrounds - the CITCx curriculum departs from traditional subject-based learning by synergising different disciplines, like science, with code, and bridging theory and real-world applications.
CODE IN THE COMMUNITY
For many kids, the CITCx holiday bootcamp provided an introduction to an interdisciplinary approach to coding and STEM. Here’s what this cohort of kids shared about what they learned in their first experience of an interdisciplinary tech education.
(aka CITC) in a nutshell.
Synergising disciplines opens up possibilities for imagination, curiosity, and application.
CITC is Singapore's largest free coding programme for disadvantaged kids, sponsored by Google.org and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
It could be argued that trying to teach kids about two things at once encourages breadth at the expense of depth. But what we’ve seen is that it widens kids’ sense of possibility, stirs up their interest, and encourages them to synergise information and connect the dots from a young age.
Since 2017, we've taught
> 3000 kids > 1000 volunteers from all walks of life.
GET INVOLVED We've got a big goal to close the digital literacy gap, and could always use your help to rally... from disadvantaged backgrounds,
Volunteers who love kids and tech, and
Partners passionate about tech-driven impact for kids. Follow us at Facebook at @CodeintheCommunity, or scan this code to learn more!
Learning life skills through code is more important than learning to code. Not every child dreams of being an engineer, and the world has no need for an entire generation of software engineers. But what every child – whether from a place of privilege or disadvantage – does need, is a set of soft skills that’ll help them thrive and navigate the complexities of the world. Beyond code, we emphasise life skills like managing failure, teamwork and creativity - skills that’ll enable kids to solve problems, whether they arise in the workplace, in their personal lives, or for other people. For example, anyone who’s tried to code will know that debugging is an inevitable part of the process, and that perseverance is a key quality that any coder who hopes for their project to see the light of day needs to have. It’s no different for our kid coders. While trying to build a game in Scratch, David had envisioned characters against a changing backdrop. There wasn’t enough time for him to make this work during class, but he’s resolute about not giving up. “I didn’t manage to solve it but I’m still trying to solve it at home!” he told us at the end of the camp.
with the help of
pretty fun. I added an extra feature to my project so that after it grows into a rose, it starts to wither.”
In this case, as kids learn to code, science concepts and their real world applications are integrated into the curriculum – something that excited kids like Kelly and David, who are both 8 years old. “We learnt 2 things at one time! I was very excited to get to learn science,” exclaimed David. Because Science is only introduced to the mainstream school curriculum for older kids, the camp exposed them to concepts like photosynthesis and gravity, piquing their curiosity and interest in the subject through accessible entry points like videos and games.
Another student who took to the challenges in class exceptionally quickly took it upon himself to help his classmates out – going between tables to help his friends troubleshoot their projects. It’s not the most complicated coding projects that make us the proudest, but instances like this that make us hopeful about the kids who are shaping the future.
12, wanted to make a website. Moshe, also 11 years old, wanted to create a material that could change shape. “I would use it to help the economy by constructing buildings and reaching high places to build tall buildings,” he said. Ethan, Kelly and David wanted to make more of their own games. “I also wish to make a platform game, because it’s very hard,” said David. “How in the world can you make a person stand on the platform?” he wondered aloud. That curiosity is the perfect place to start.
We launched CITCx as an extension of Code in the Community, so disadvantaged kids have more avenues to continue their tech education and learn in ways that enable them to lean into the future. Companies and individuals have stepped up to lend their support, and we tell these stories so as to reach anyone with an eye on the future of work and learning, who wants to ensure that no kid gets left behind. If that’s you, we’d love for you to join our movement. Scan the code below to find out how you can get involved.
Curiosity in the classroom is just the start. One of our favourite questions to ask kids is what they want to do with a mastery of coding. Kaelyn, age 11, wanted to make a model of the Eiffel Tower, while Luke, age
For example, they worked on a game about space – Kelly and David’s favourite project from the camp. “I have never been to space before and I want to know what it looks like,” David said. Combining that knowledge with code, Kelly programmed a game with rockets. Leveraging basic coding skills, they could apply what they learned by creating projects to visualise and apply their learnings via block-based platform Scratch, connecting the dots with their own interests and experiences. Like Ethan, age 9, who created a garden-themed animation. “I have plants at home, and it’s
SATURDAY KIDS AT 8
CREATING ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITY THROUGH DIGITAL LITERACY by John Tan
In 2020, Saturday Kids turned 8 years old. At this juncture, I thought it’d be timely to catch you up on where we’ve been in the last few years, where we hope to go (with your help), and why. Saturday Kids opened in 2012 when I first started dabbling in tech investing. Meeting tech entrepreneurs all day made me realise how useful it is to know how to code, so I started a coding school for kids because there weren’t any back then. These days, I call Saturday Kids a curiosity school rather than a coding school because the goal isn’t to churn out software engineers. The goal is to inspire every child to become a curious, self-directed learner using tech to create a better future. Inspiring curiosity is at the heart of everything we do at Saturday Kids. We like to think we are making a stand against tuition and parents’ obsession with grades. The world is facing unprecedented challenges, and we need to raise more mavericks to take them on. It scares me that parents are telling their kids the same thing my parents told me many years ago — study hard, get a good job, and life will be taken care of. I worry kids in Singapore grow up with a sense of entitlement, thinking that someone owes them a well-paying job just because they did well in school. I worry kids are so busy cramming for tests and exams they haven’t heard of Greta Thunberg and climate change. Most of all, I worry kids from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t get the same opportunities in life and therefore are trapped in that narrative of study hard, go to college on a scholarship, get a good job. I have nothing against ‘good’ jobs. But the fact is technology is disrupting so many industries that very few people can predict what sort of jobs kids will have in the future, or what will constitute a ‘good’ job. In Singapore for example, our city’s success is built on a professional class of bankers, lawyers, accountants. But for Singapore to continue to thrive, we cannot just be providers of professional services. Many white-collar jobs in finance, law, even medicine will be automated into obsolescence. CURIOSIT Y CHRONICLES
The world is facing unprecedented challenges — environmental, social, and political. Our generation is not going to solve all of these problems. It is up to our kids and the generations after them to come up with the solutions that will ensure humanity continues to thrive. To thrive and to remain relevant, more kids need to think like entrepreneurs and makers, with the curiosity, enterprise and imagination to take on humanity’s challenges.
As we grow beyond our 8 years, the keyword we're focussing on is 'opportunity'.
After 8 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about teaching kids how to learn. We’ve also learned a lot about inequality – whether arising from gender, urban poverty, or infrastructure poverty.
President Obama once said, “Life isn’t always fair. It distributes opportunities in different ways.” As we grow beyond our 8 years, the keyword we’re focussing on is opportunity. Creating opportunities for those on the ‘wrong’ side of the divide, and putting in the groundwork to ensure that opportunities are distributed more fairly in the years to come. That’s what our social impact programmes like Code in the Community, Coding Cats, and Project Empower, and initiatives like Pay it Forward are all about. As we continue building on these programmes, it’s also our hope that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are afforded the same opportunities to tackle problems like climate change. We’ve seen from the tech industry that diversity makes for richer, more comprehensive products and solutions. By investing in bringing a diversity of voices and experiences to the table, we’re investing in a future that’s not only more inclusive, but better for everyone. That’s why after focussing on creative coding for 8 years, we’re now expanding our ambition to get kids excited about applied coding: applying code to projects
grounded in the context of the real world. We’ve gotten started with Code Meets World, a year-long programme for kids ages 11-14 to use code to explore, analyse and communicate the big questions and ideas shaping the world. In the first phase of the programme, we’ve seen kids still in primary school code websites and wiki pages about issues they’re concerned about, like plastic pollution and COVID-19. We’re excited about where their curiosity will take them as they venture into data visualisation, animations, and other web-based projects. Beyond building more products like Code Meets World, we are committed to access and developing sustainable channels to ensure that it’s not just privileged kids who get access to opportunities to change the world with tech, but kids living in rural areas, disaster zones, low-income communities, and more. The future is here, and our goal is to leave no kid behind. President Obama also said to “rejoice in the opportunity to change the world”. As we enter our 9th year, we’re embracing this opportunity as an organisation, and we do what we do so that the kids we reach can embrace it too. We’re excited. And if you feel the same way, we’d love to connect and explore how we might work together to make sure no child gets left behind. We never know what we can achieve if we put our heads together.
Scan the code to download our very first Impact Report!
WHAT’S ON! Our holiday camps and weekly classes are designed to inspire kids ages 5-14 to create a better future with technology.
Listen to Saturday Kids on Spotify! In an alternate universe, we spin records that get people in the zone to create and celebrate possibilities. Instead, we decided to run a play-based coding school for kids it's kind of the same thing. Scan to listen our favourite jams.
Saturday Kids Greenhouse Introducing Saturday Kids Greenhouse - our structured year-long programmes designed to inspire kids to create a better future with technology. Built for gentle progression; high-touch, personalised learning; and meaningful learning outcomes. For kids ages 5-14, with or without prior coding experience.
Promos Just for you, apply the promo code CURIOSITYCHRONICLES to save $60 off our weekly classes and holiday camps. Valid throughout 2021.
Terms & Conditions apply. Comic by Fong Yee, @afwhye
Comic by Fong Yee, @afwhye
Editor’s Note: How'd you find Issue 2 of the Curiosity Chronicles? If you enjoyed this, we’d love for you to pass this copy along to a friend once you’re done.
Scan the QR code to read Issue 1 if you missed it!
We’d love to hear any comments or feedback you have - follow our adventures on our blog and social media, or get in touch. Deets below. ‘Til the next issue, stay curious!
Don’t be a stranger firstname.lastname@example.org www.saturdaykids.com +65 3159 0980 SaturdayKidsSG Saturday_Kids
HEY KIDS! The more you ask, the more you learn, You'd be surprised what you get in return. Our golden rule: Don't be a fool, Continue to learn, even outside school. Don't fear the new, try what scares you, Gotta make the climb to enjoy the view. It’s ﬁne to fail but just don’t bail, The 2nd time’s easier for you to prevail. Listen to your parents but not too much, Break rules a little and add your own touch. Who cares what others think about, Why ﬁt in when you're born to stand out. Don't grow up too fast, make childhood last, Because this part's seriously the blast!
Stay Curious, Inventive & Resourceful
The big kids
CURIOSIT Y CHRONICLES