SINGAPORE - Members of the public who want to pick up basic coding skills and learn how to make things like simple automated water sprinklers or step trackers can now do so at Singapore's first Digital Garage, which opened at Tanjong Pagar Community Club on Saturday (July 8).
The Digital Garage is the latest initiative under the Info-communications Media Development Authority's (IMDA) Digital Maker programme, which aims to teach basic coding and digital making to the public.
The garage will hold workshops teaching people of all ages how to program and use a device called a micro:bit, which can be used to form the brains of gadgets such as an automatic tea brewing set or a water sprinkler. It held its first workshop on Saturday.
Madam Sreelatha Menon, 68, who was the oldest participant at the workshop, coded for the first time, when she programmed her micro:bit to flash a greeting using LED lighting.
“I’ve heard a lot about the new digital future, so I wanted to learn something new to not get left behind,” the housewife said.
It is the first dedicated space in a community space put aside for workshops on digital making, as it is outfitted with equipment such as laptops, drills and a hot glue gun.
Workshops, which run from several hours to a few sessions depending on what participants are tasked to complete, cost between $10 and $18. Participants get to keep their $30 micro:bit microcontroller, which they can reuse and reprogram for future projects.
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah, who opened the garage, said: "This project is a step for Singapore on its journey towards a digital, creative and smart nation.
"So when IMDA first brought up the idea of the Digital Maker programme and bringing it to the community, I immediately put my hand up and asked if Tanjong Pagar could be the first location for the garage. We have lots of young families, as well as the elderly here, and this is something they will be interested in," she said.
The Digital Maker programme aims to distribute 100,000 micro:bits to school-going children and adults over the next two years to teach basic coding. Almost 80 schools have signed up for the initiative since it was launched this April.
The IMDA is currently in talks with about four other community centres on further digital maker collaborations, which may take the form of a similar digital garage or an entirely different initiative, said the authority’s senior director for digital readiness cluster Koh Li-Na.