For a child to bloom and reach their potential, their environment has to enable them to feel recognised and engaged, with room for expression through multiple avenues—physical, emotional, cognitive, social, aesthetic and spiritual.
Such opportunities and exposure to creative and sporting activities are limited for children who come from family situations which may put them at risk. Canossaville Children’s Home offers after-school care for primary school boys and girls, many of whom are from lower-income families. The Home’s programmes are aimed at developing each child’s learning potential to the fullest and moulding them to become confident, resilient and holistic individuals.
In consultation with the Home, Microsoft Singapore held two coding workshops to introduce the children to the fundamentals of coding and software development, through fun activities and offline games.
The first session for 16 children was held at the Home. The line-up that day was created by Microsoft employees, Student Partners, and interns, with the aim of honing critical and analytical skills. Among the activities was “My Robotic Friend”, where the children used plastic cups to build structures and learn the connection between symbols and actions in coding. The Microsoft volunteers then showed how this hands-on game mirrors actual coding logic and algorithms.
Cristal Toh, Social Work Associate of the Home, said, “Because teaching was done through games rather than the standard classroom fare, all the children – who have different learning styles – were fully engaged and motivated to learn coding!”
The real highlight was to come later, when 50 children were brought to the Microsoft Singapore office for the second coding session. Thrilled to watch the Microsoft employees at work, the children were able to connect the dots between the Microsoft Office software they are familiar with, their new mentors and the actual world of Microsoft.
This time around, both offline games and actual coding were conducted. In the offline game called ‘Swap Out’, the children formed two lines, standing in random order. They then rearranged their positions in the line based on variables such as height and hair length, but could only switch places with either of the people right next to them. This helped them get familiarised with the use and logic of sort functions in programming. The children also tried their hand at actual coding later on, using provided Microsoft Surface tablets and other touch-screen devices.
Kellynn Khor, an intern with the Microsoft Legal and Corporate Affairs Group, said, “Not only were they creative, they were dedicated and quick to pick up concepts. I have to say, their attention to detail was amazing! I am confident that given time and resources, they would be able to go on to a higher level of coding expertise should they be interested.”