Preface Hackathon Student Stories

Nomad Hackathon — May 2019

Students’ apps to keep out tropical rain

Nomad Hackathon is a monthly event where all our young coding students meet and build projects that serve the community around them. Being notorious for its tropical weather, it’s rather tricky to stay dry in Hong Kong in the rain season. What’s the hack from Preface coding students to keep the moist away?

App Inventor team who created the best umbrella rental app in May Hackathon.

Umbrella rentals on demand

What’s the one essential to have when you need to be on the move under the rain? A trusty umbrella, of course. The trouble of carrying one around though is a big put off. At the same time, our App Inventor students saw it as an unnecessary problem in nowaday’s sharing economy — we share everything from videos to bicycles and even homes. Why not umbrellas, too? It should be there when you need it, and gone when you don’t.

There born the idea of Preface Coffee’s “Umbrella-To-Go” app. The cafe is launching an umbrella rental service this summer — for $50 anyone can rent an umbrella from Preface Coffee. Upon returning, guests can redeem a drink for free. Our baristas will be using this app to keep track of the rental record and send reminders to guests who are yet to return the umbrellas.

We will first soft launch this service at Preface Coffee, and slowly add more collection points around the district of Tin Hau, Hong Kong. Expect to see a troop of Tin-Hau dwellers crossing the zebra lines holding up black umbrellas (or the blue cups from Preface Coffee) later this summer!

T-Rex Runner Game in Preface Coffee

For the younger students from the Scratch class, they created a mini game for people to play while waiting for the sulky rain to stop. It’s a mini game called Baby T-Rex Runner. You may have encountered this game from Preface Coffee already, but this one is new, you know, with a cute baby T-Rex. The winning version from Alvin features a gigantic, earth-piercing rainbow in the background. It’s his ultimate tribute to anyone who’s patient enough to wait for the rain to stop, for the rainbow to show its true glory.

With these creations from our students we are all set for the summer rain to hit. Now we’re just waiting for the rain to come. Time to play a round of Baby T-Rex Runner, maybe…?

Student Stories

Words from Our Designers

Creating NOMAD for you

The builders behind NOMAD — Jason, Sam and Carmen

Remember the excitement you had when learning something new when you were young? We gradually lose this feeling when we learn through traditional methods, which either exert heavy pressure on how we absorb knowledge, or come with high barriers that deter us from learning something new. Learning should be fun, inspiring, exciting and accessible for everyone, and we hope Nomad can help every learner to bring that feeling back.

This is why we hold empathising real users’ needs to such high regard throughout the design and discussion process. We want them to embrace the idea that they can learn anything in the best possible experience through Nomad, regardless of their education background or learning style. Therefore, in between balancing how to adequately showcase Nomad’s exceptional features, we also had to make sure we were not neglecting the needs of our end users, ensuring that they are supported by an easily navigable user flow in their journey of stepping outside their comfort zone.

Latest News

Preface’s Big Win in F8

Team Effort Attracted Huge Interests in Facebook’s Annual Tech Conference

Preface Team

Earlier in May, the product team of Preface was invited to join the F8 Conference in California, one of the biggest annual tech conferences that gathers top-notch engineers and entrepreneurs to learn about the up-and-coming technology that Facebook will put in the hands of consumers. The Preface team took the chance to meet with many talented engineers, professors and tech experts coming to this event.

Preface team received valuable feedback for Nomad, our teacher-student matching system that makes personalised learning truly effective and possible. Through this event, the team has gained useful insight about how to improve the product beyond the alpha test period. We are getting closer and closer to our beta launch scheduled to be in July. Stay tuned for more product updates in this space!

Scratch Japan Student Stories

Students’ Game Earned Recognition in Japan

Paving Way for Bigger Stage in MIT Boston App Inventor 2019

Young coder is making a final touch before “Show & Tell” at Scratch Day 2019 in Tokyo

Preface Nomad was honored to be invited to Scratch Day Japan, the biggest coding event in Asia to present our students’ work to an international crowd. Coding teachers, Scratch coders and technology enthusiasts all gathered around the high stage while we presented “Let Snorlax Sleep, a game coded by our 6-year-old student. Is it just another game using a keyboard to play? 100% not. “Awesome” is the word to describe this game, as it cleverly uses the camera sensor to detect the gamer’s movement as the main control. Gamers can sweep the bugs off by swiping their hands in front of the camera, immersing in a 3D gaming experience. The applause and positive feedback from the audience reassured us the impact that Preface Nomad is making — we are not only showing our students how to make a game. We are empowering them to do something great, and become someone who owns the stage.

Let Snorlax Sleep” game

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is hosting App Inventor Summit in Boston this year to celebrate their 10th year anniversary. It will be the biggest App Inventor conference to date.

Yet another proud announcement from us — Preface is invited by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to participate in App Inventor Summit in Boston, one of the world’s largest coding conferences to date. In this August, we will join the event as a Premium Educator to host a 3-hour workshop demonstrating how to make the best use of App Inventor to create highly engaging projects. We will also introduce and exhibit the best works of our students to the top educators and developers coming from all over the world. To prepare for this big event, we are recruiting our brightest students and alumni to build a community-based project together. Talk to the Preface Nomad team if you are interested to know more!

In the coming Sunday (May 26), Preface Nomad is hosting a FREE trial workshop for anyone who wants to learn more about our upcoming Summer Bootcamps as well as the projects we are bringing to the MIT App Inventor Summit. In the 1-hour workshop you and your kids will get to try working on a simple project and get a taste of building something fun on their computers.

Reserve your seat now and prepare for the great summer ahead!

Summer Trial Class Student Stories

Taste of Quality at Bootcamp Trial Workshop

A sneak peek at Preface Summer Bootcamps, for free!

Since the beginning of May we’ve been offering free trial workshops for kids and parents to get a taste of our Summer Bootcamps at Preface. The responses have been wildly positive and encouraging. For those of you who haven’t been to one of our workshops yet, here’re some unbeatable reasons to sign yourself up for our popular workshops with limited seats!

Our workshops are really, really fun.

During our 45-min workshop there’s no chance for anyone to cross their arms or scroll insatiably through their phones. Not even you — parents. While the kids will be highly engaged in our exciting (but safe) science experiments and code lab for simple fun game, the parents will get to know what Preface is all about from our lightning talk, demo stations and personal consultation with our education advisors, all in our spacious classroom set against the view of Victoria Harbour. Definitely something worth your time.

Our workshops are very, very open.

While there are schools that tend to keep the important stuff behind the scene, you will know exactly what’s going on at Preface. You get to see what your kids are learning in the classrooms and how they are taught; you will be invited into the classrooms and see what your kids have accomplished. You get to see the entire process, and the end results.

A chance to talk to our MIT Master Trainers.

If you ask what is the one thing that sets Preface apart from all other coding academies in town, it’s definitely our teachers. All of our teachers are MIT Master Trainers, meaning that they are not just another coding hobbyist who happens to be teaching your kid. Our teachers are professionally trained and experienced in their fields. If you’re unsure about anything regarding our courses, talk to our teachers. We encourage you to take the chance to understand as much as you can.

Want to sign up for our free trial classes? Sign up here.

Preface @MIT

Combining Coding and Psychology to Create Societal Impact

Originally published on MIT App Inventor official blog on April 22, 2019.

This is a guest blog by MIT Master Trainer Queena Ling.

Like many budding psychology students, Suki has a strong desire to aid those with special needs or suffering from mental health problems. Unlike her fellow psychology students however, Suki has taken her aspirations to the next level with her new mobile application – a mental health application built through App Inventor that aims at helping people combat depression.

Aided by a fundamentally sound coding skillset learnt through Preface NOMAD, the pioneer coding school in Hong Kong powered by A.I. technology in teaching, Suki has created a fully functional health application complete with an impressive range of features, including music to calm users and use of the web browser component to host web articles to motivate users, and educate them on how to overcome depression. A high school student with ambitions to study psychology at UCLA, Suki wishes to she can positively impact the mental health community in spite of her young age.

Suki hopes that adults and teenagers alike can find the perfect tool that they can draw strength from through her application, and hopefully empower them in their fight against depression.

Preface @MIT

Hacking School System with App Inventor at Preface

Originally published at MIT App Inventor Official Blog on April 22, 2019

This is a guest blog by MIT Master Trainer Anna Yu

Recently we sat down with the February Winners of Nomad Hackathon and interviewed them about the experience of learning how to code at Preface using App Inventor and Scratch.

Nomad Hackathon is a monthly coding event in which the young coding students in Preface create useful apps for the local community. In February, we witnessed two groups of coding students transforming into product makers. Brandon, Sik Kin and Macarius teamed up and created a loyalty app using App Inventor, while Jacqueline created an interactive translation app with Scratch.

The Beginning

(From left to right) Brandon Chan, Sik-kin Chan and Macarius Chan — the brains behind the Preface Coffee Loyalty App

Brandon, Sik Kin and Macarius have been coding for years now. None of them were older than 10 years old when they first started coding.

“I was five when I started learning Scratch”, smiled Brandon. At the age of 10, he has already coded up more apps than an average adult in Hong Kong. Both Brandon and Macarius started coding because they wanted to have their own creations. “I liked to play video games a lot, and I was very curious about how to make one myself. But then my day school doesn’t really teach us that.”

“I was five when I started learning Scratch”, smiled Brandon. At the age of 10, he has already coded up more apps than an average adult in Hong Kong.

The First Challenge

It’s a big problem that the local school system sees as non-existent. While there is some form of computer classes at school, it hardly matches the learning needs of school kids.

“My school doesn’t provide any coding classes until I get older.”

Jacqueline explained why she started coding at Preface.

Even when there’s a class, it still doesn’t guarantee a chance to learn. “The coding projects at school are sometimes too easy. By the time the teacher finished explaining what the project is, I have already done most of the codes for it”, shrugged Macarius.

Tackling the Challenge

The average class size of a day school in Hong Kong is 32 kids, all with different personal experiences, interests and needs in learning. The challenge for a teacher to ensure the teaching quality and class engagement is monstrous and, as a matter of fact, unrealistic.

Brandon compared his experience at school with Preface and revealed the fundamental difference in learning experience owing to the class size.

“The class is too big and the teacher cannot answer every question we have. However, at Preface, every group class has only two to three kids. Our teacher never fails to answer our questions. They also teach us how to find the answer ourselves instead of telling us the answer straight away. And the projects are so fun to work on.”

“At Preface, every group class has only two to three kids. Our teacher never fails to answer our questions. And the projects are so fun to work on.”

— Brandon Chan, App Inventor student at Preface Nomad

Sik-kin put his shyness away with excitement when he talked about the games he built with App Inventor, such as Space Shooting Fun or Farming RP.

“We learn really fast while making these fun games”, Sik-kin continued, “we like the challenges”.

— Sik-kin Chan, App Inventor student at Preface Nomad

Hacking Education with Hackathon

While they learn how to work independently in regular classes, our coding students learn to collaborate and leverage the strength of each other during Nomad Hackathon.

“I’ve never missed a single Hackathon after I started having coding classes here. I want to see what other kids are doing and learn from them”, said Brandon.

The high relevance of the Hackathon projects to real-life problems is proved very effective in motivating students to practise what they’ve learnt.

Hackathon is much more valuable for their learning than a simple exercise or exam that only challenges their short-term memory. Coding is a brand new subject for young kids; it requires a brand new approach in delivering the know-how. The century-old setup of an overcrowded classroom is failing hard as our new generation of learners has told us. Getting the approach right is half the battle done; at Preface, we place a strong focus on the approach. We keep our classes small, our projects relevant, and our students highly engaged.

Coding is a brand new subject for young kids; it requires a brand new approach in delivering the know-how.

At the end of the day, we give them a stage — Preface Hackathon is not just another coding class; it is a platform for the young students to prove to themselves — and the community — that they have learnt something exciting.

Sik-kin concluded our conversation with a big picture of himself in the future.

“I want to be a professional coder when I grow up, and teach young kids about coding with what I know from my years.”

Although Sik-kin is only 10 years old now, his vision doesn’t seem too wild for us. We are confident that our young students will give back to the community in their own ways in a not-so-distant future.

Congratulations to our February Winners again!

Student Stories

Envisioning a World Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Image credit: Engadget

Over the past century, fiendish sci-fi plots like The Terminator or The Matrix have always portrayed scenarios where sophisticated AIs end up manipulating the human race. Coupled with the idea of robots and computers taking over a multitude of our jobs, incremental AI developments have widely been perceived as menaces that bring future sufferings.

However, instead of worrying about job replacements, Preface celebrates the impending displacements of tasks with the impact of new technologies. The automation of repetitive tasks is a key advantage of implementing such technologies, leaving humans with greater capacity to deal with higher-level tasks, resulting in the facilitation of efficiency and innovations.

One pick for innovative concept is Toyota’s e-Palette, an on-demand city platform with autonomous and multipurpose driverless shuttles serving across the city. These shuttles have an open interior design layout that enables companies of all kinds to use them in accordance with users’ needs, whether it be mobile meeting rooms, retail outlets, restaurants, emergency medical clinics, on-the-road e-commerce or more. Imagine being able to call up a mobile fitting room before placing an order on online shopping sites — no longer will you buy goods that do not match your expectations and have so much hassle returning them. Its flexible framework empowers businesses with mobility and resource optimization, while supporting their customers’ lifestyles with better convenience, productivity and efficiency. Yet, other potential benefits are there to be explored in the real world.

Statistically, 47% of digitally mature organisations have a defined A.I. strategy. — Adobe

In 2019, we are going through a significant transition from an information-driven era to an AI-powered age. The problem of information overload has been forcing us to change our behaviour, from receiving information passively to having quality learning experience. With the advancement of AI, machines can assist us by handling vast amount of behavioural data and suggest us personalised recommendations accordingly. Just as the case of Toyota’s e-Palette, the Education field deserves to undergo the same intensity of revolution for more efficient and effective outcomes.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.” — Albert Einstein

Educators need to know what theories or explanations in textbooks cause most frustrations to learners, and what pedagogical methods work for diverse groups of learners. An education based AI machine is best to provide us with objective recommendations of the learning method and pace for each individual learner. In this way, the collaboration of human teachers and AI machine would help to educate the next generation of humans to be smarter than ever.

Student Stories

The Idea Behind the NYR Campaign

There was an idea. That emerging knowledge did not need to be hard to learn. That Preface, as an education and tech company, could be the ideal educator to deliver this knowledge. Hence, since its inception in late June 2018, Preface Coffee has served as a platform for workshops that aim to create conversations on emerging knowledge essential for the technological era. Held by Preface educators and guest speakers, Preface Workshops remained a staple event through the months, slowly building the reputation as a hub for new knowledge in Tin Hau.

As we approached the turn of the New Year, there was a thought. Why stop at emerging knowledge? Many people have various skills and particular topics that they’d love to learn about, but have no clue on where to start their journey — none more so than individuals who are looking to learn something new in the upcoming year. Fuelled with the idea of motivating people to not only make, but complete New Year Resolutions in learning, we set up the New Year’s Resolutions Campaign.

As a channel that provides participants with greater access to learning their topics of interest, the NYR Campaign incentivises individuals to place learning as a priority in their lives. The result was instantaneous, with Preface Workshops reaching record attendances in the first month of the campaign, and effectively ignited public interest in new knowledge.

Student Stories

Preface Workshops Revisit: Month of Blockchain

Blockchain Technology: Hitchhiker’s Guide to Blockchain

Preface Coffee had the honour of hosting Mr. Michael Yung, Head of Digital Products and Technology at Asia Miles on the night of 21st January. An experienced figure in the world of Blockchain as a result of his impressive work on refining Asia Miles’ very own loyalty programme, Mr. Yung captivated the audience with his talk on Blockchain and its usage in cryptocurrency.

Through the workshop, Mr. Yung allowed participants to understand Blockchain by breaking its concepts down into visualizable, easy-to-follow procedures, before delving into its application in Bitcoin — the most popular cryptocurrency in the world to date. The talk gradually built on to real use cases of Blockchain, in which an eager audience was introduced to how blockchain could be implemented into numerous industries. A plethora of questions were raised, stimulating an interactive discussion and exchange of ideas that transcended beyond a common workshop.

Preface would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Yung for his inspiring and eye-opening talk, and will aspire to continue attracting high calibre speakers to future Preface Workshops!

Blockchain Technology 101

Blockchain 101 recorded Preface Workshop’s highest attendance in its short history, as participants from many different backgrounds gathered to learn about a technological phenomenon predicted to deliver an impact similar to that of the internet two decades ago. Fresh from his studies in Oxford’s Blockchain Course, Preface Founder and CEO Tommie Lo guided participants through intricate concepts of Blockchain, and introduced their possible use in a wide range of business scenarios through Hyperledger, a global collaborative effort facilitating blockchain technology across different industries, and backed by numerous conglomerates.

Preface Coffee is re-running this popular workshop in March 2019.

Why Do We Teach Blockchain

We have been adhering to the vision of bringing emerging knowledge to the Preface Coffee space since the first day of launch; liberalising proprietary knowledge pieces from graduate schools to a community we love, believing that there’s nothing cannot be learnt, and we then apply the knowledge to make a difference in the world.

We therefore teach Blockchain Technology as we believe in its power to become a revolutionary enterprise application. Our Blockchain workshops aim to deliver a deeper public understanding through diving into Blockchain Technology with cryptography and delving into its relationship with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.