Drones, apps and coding games show tech is fun

Tse Chung Man, 14, flying a mini-drone in the "Drone Zone" at the Infocomm Development Authority's Young Tech Fest. Other visitors were there to try out different technologies or take part in free workshops.
Tse Chung Man, 14, flying a mini-drone in the "Drone Zone" at the Infocomm Development Authority's Young Tech Fest. Other visitors were there to try out different technologies or take part in free workshops.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

IDA launches Young Tech Fest to spur curiosity and creativity in young people

Fourteen-year-old Tse Chung Man has always wanted a drone - and yesterday he got the chance to try his hand at flying one at the Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA) inaugural Young Tech Fest.

Spending time at the "drone zone" was the Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School student's favourite part of the event.

"I found that (drones are) quite easy (to use)," he said. "I didn't know that you could use your phone to control it."

The two-day Young Tech Fest, which ended yesterday at Suntec Convention Centre, brought together some 2,000 people aged seven to 24 to experience "smart nation" technology.

Some visitors were there to try out different technologies, while others took part in free workshops.

Among them was a coding workshop that allowed participants to try programming drones using a tablet.

But drones were not the only attraction at the festival.

Ten-year-old Rahul Ganesh experienced virtual reality by playing a video game through a headset.

The Fuhua Primary School student, who is keen on learning coding, said: "Instead of playing games, you can create your own. That's more fun."

Other booths allowed visitors to "draw" with 3D pens and experiment with an invention kit dubbed "Makey-Makey", which uses a mini electronic board to turn objects that conduct electricity, like bananas, into "keys" of a keyboard.

Besides showcasing the latest tech innovations, the event offered a platform for students' creations.

Among them was a home-automation application developed by a group of NUS High School students.

While it is still a prototype, it potentially enables users to remotely operate switches around the home.

The work of students from seven tertiary institutions also helped to raise money for charity during the event. Visitors who solved their simple coding challenges "unlocked" donation money for SG Enable, a government agency that provides services for people with disabilities.

Their efforts raised $160,000 - all donated by Singtel and the Singapore Computer Society .

"As we build Singapore into a Smart Nation, we need people of all ages to imagine and build new, creative ways to solve real-world challenges," said IDA executive deputy chairman Steve Leonard.

"The Young Tech Fest is aimed at encouraging young people to have both the curiosity and confidence to be part of creating cool things."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Drones, apps and coding games show tech is fun'. Print Edition | Subscribe