Computing Workshops @ Kuala Lumpur High School

This year, I once again travelled to Kuala Lumpur. Same as two years ago, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to join the computing workshops organized by NUS School of Computing (SoC) and Chong Hwa Chinese Independent High School at Kuala Lumpur (CHKL).

Again, thanks to my boss, he happily allowed me to take leave to join the 4-day SoC computing workshops.

Introduction
The workshops were organized for the students from Malaysia Chinese independent high schools. During the event, the students got the opportunity to listen to the talks given by SoC lecturers on several interesting topics, such as PHP programming, E-commerce, Android app development, Arduino and so on. Before the event, when I read through the list of talks, I was so surprised that students nowadays were so fortunate to learn about all these exciting technology when they were still studying in high school.

There were other several interesting topics about algorithm, Facebook and iPad app development modules, and so on. I won’t talk about them here since I will be sharing more about the app development workshops in the 4-day event.

Learning Android App Development
I like how they chose MIT App Inventor as the tool for the students to learn building an Android app. App Inventor uses a graphical interface. Thus, instead of writing codes in text, students could just drag-and-drop the blocks to “write” their program. The blocks are actually those statements and expressions like if…else, assignment, for loop and so on. It is similar to Alice, a 3D  programming environment, that we used in last year workshop. So now programming becomes easier because the students can just build their Android apps without writing single line of code and the whole experience is just like playing Tetris.

Students Showing Their Android App to Dr Chia
Students were showing their Android app to Dr Chia
A simple counting program written and designed by Nan Wei (Keat Hwa High School)
A simple counting program written and designed by Nan Wei (Keat Hwa High School)

Having Fun with Arduino
In order to let the students have a little idea about the world of Computer Engineering, we had Arduino for the students to play. Arduino is a prototyping platform. It comes with an IDE which allows the user to compile their code and then upload it to the Arduino Board. So with the tools, students could easily write their simple C++ program to control the LED on the board. Some of the students learnt quite fast and they were able to do some amazing stuff like playing music and controlling LED brightness with the help of sensors. It’s amazing to see how the students nowadays get so much learning opportunity. When I was a student in SoC, I didn’t even know what Arduino was. Haiz.


Arduino demo proudly brought to you by Nan Wei and Yek Xian (Foon Yew High School)

Arduino Programming Exercises Done by Students
Arduino programming exercises done by the students

Not Just Coding, But Also Thinking
During the 4-day workshops, students also got to learn building a simple E-commerce website. Many of the students didn’t have PHP background. Due to the time constraint, the lecturer didn’t manage to cover everything in details. Luckily there was two lab sessions for the students to ask questions. Interestingly, some of their questions were actually quite good because from their questions, we could tell that the students really think a lot. One of the students even went further to learn JavaScript and came up with a beautiful website.

Cheng En and His PHP Web App (The one with extra features done in JS)
Cheng En (CHKL) and his PHP web app (The one with extra features done in JS)

Fun
Before the end of the workshops, one of the student helpers asked me whether I would join the workshops again as student helper next year. Well… I do hope that I will be invited by the school again. Frankly speaking, event or workshop like this is very tiring, especially for those who have to go back to work on next day of the event. However, it’s still fun to talk to the high school students and share our campus life experience with them. It’s also glad to see that most of them actually liked learning very much (Note: The students actually travelled from different cities across Malaysia just to participate in the workshops. Also that was during their school holiday).

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