Teens from Queenstown Secondary School were treated to a two-hour tech-tinkering session at PIXEL Labs@NLB.
By Suresh Nair
Some 22 teenagers from Queenstown Secondary School had a chance to get their hands on some nifty gadgets during the March school holidays.
The two-hour tech-tinkering session jointly organised by the Community Policing Unit at Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) and PIXEL Labs is part of a programme known as Discover@Labs. It was a rare chance for the teenagers, aged 13 to 16 years old who may otherwise not have the opportunity to regularly touch and learn about technology.
Among other activities, the students were able to play with maker kits such as Arduino, an open-source electronic prototyping platform to create and programme robots.
“(It was) fun, very fun,” said Mr Hafeezur Rahman, 15. “I got to check out a futuristic mobile classroom and see how virtual reality can transform education.”
Meanwhile, Leong Hoi Kay, 14, realised the “opportunity to try things and not be afraid…you're not going to break anything, you're not going to hurt anyone, and I think that's important for students.”
Located at the Jurong Regional Library’s second floor, PIXEL Labs@NLB allows library users to explore various technologies for free. It is equipped with three 3D printers and various types of tinkering kits including Arduino Uno, LilyPad Arduino, Spark Code, Makey Makey and Raspberry Pi. The programme also runs weekly workshops on robotics, drones and coding.
Labs@NLB is an initiative of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Library Board (NLB) and is dedicated to the pursuit of experimentation with technology among the community.
Senior Staff Sergeant Xie Zhirong, the Deputy Officer-in-Charge of the Community Policing Unit at Queenstown NPC, said the programme encourages teenagers to harness their creative capabilities.
“It opens up opportunities for teenagers who may otherwise stray. We have to find creative ways to offer meaningful quality-time activities such as hands-on IT projects which test their creativity and inventiveness,” he said.
Being situated in a library also has other advantages, as participants are able to easily source for guides and resources on computing and programming.
Spaces for Innovation
IMDA first launched its Labs programme in March 2014, opening the first two Labs at its Mapletree Business City headquarters and the National Design Centre. With the latest addition at Jurong Regional Library, its goal is to provide physical spaces for individuals, companies and Government agencies to collaborate and innovate, as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.
“It’s a wonderful learning journey for the younger generation where they start a long-term relationship with hands-on technology projects,” said Faith Teng, Manager of PIXEL Labs Programmes. She added,"Exploring new technologies is one of the many things teenagers and even senior citizens can do at public libraries these days other than reading and borrowing books. Just as libraries pass on knowledge through books, we hope that the PIXEL Labs@NLB can pass on the spirit of experimentation and innovation through the tools made available.”
PIXEL Labs@NLB is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, 12.00pm to 8.30pm.