SINGAPORE: Kaeden Chan may only be 13 years old, but he is already an app developer.
A Secondary 1 student at Pathlight School, Kaeden has been hard at work building a game which can be played on an iPad. The game, which he developed with the help of his teacher, involves a tapping competition between two players.
The players are required to race their characters to the finish line and the speed of the character is determined by how fast the players can tap a button.
“I like the satisfaction I get after finishing a programme and watching the end result,” he said. “I want to become an app developer and build games.”
Kaeden’s work was showcased at a launch event on Wednesday (Mar 13), where Apple announced that it will work with three schools to develop coding literacy in students.
Two of them – the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and RMIT Online – have launched courses using Apple’s App Development with Swift curriculum. Their courses are created with adult learners in mind, and are supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).
Pathlight School will offer an adaptation of Apple’s existing Swift Accelerator programme for students at the secondary level, who will be selected based on their aptitude and interest in coding.
The programme, which involves 144 hours of training with an Apple-certified trainer, was previously rolled out in March and November last year to 12 local schools.
Welcoming the collaboration, Jalan Besar Member of Parliament and supervisor of Pathlight School Denise Phua highlighted the importance of coding for everyone.
“I believe that everyone can code, or at least be exposed to simple coding in a fun way , regardless of ability. They may not end up as a coder or a programmer, but it is part of the new literacy,” she said.
“Persons with autism have that natural inclination and we want to build (on that) as much as possible.”
She added that there are teaching strategies to bring out the best in students regardless of their learning condition.
"Students who are hearing-impaired or deaf, you will need pedagogies that are more visual," she said. "And others ... for example the more visually-impaired would need more auditory (strategies).
“The ultimate objective is not to leave them behind, to maximise the potential given to them."
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Information technology has always been a core part of Pathlight's curriculum as they know many of their students have a natural inclination and aptitude for it, explained Wilfred Tay, head of Pathlight's IT and Design Academy.
He said that through the academy, all Pathlight students are exposed to infocomm technology (ICT).
"From as young as Primary 1, we develop their ICT skills in various domains, such as the use of productivity tools, coding, digital graphics, robotics and website development as they progress through their education years with Pathlight," he said.
“This exposure develops our students’ problem-solving skills, such as their ability to think logically and algorithmically and to break complex issues into smaller components."
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He added that the school's partnership with Apple will deepen Pathlight students' coding literacy and bring them "to the next level".
There is potential for this, as the Swift Accelerator programme has seen a measure of success in its previous run, with three apps already being published to Apple’s App Store.
Dalton Prescott, who attended a previous iteration of the programme while he was a student at the School of Science and Technology, has plans to have an app he developed launched on the App Store.
The 17-year-old's app, called Master, combines psychology and machine learning to make learning more effective for students.
"Learning how to build apps allowed me to turn problems I faced from obstacles into solutions," he said. "I was one of the very first people to take part in the programme, and it (was a springboard for) my career."