Teo Yuang Teck Brings NASA and Coding to Malaysia!
|Realfun Learning Centre|
|Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia|
Teo Yuang Teck, a Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator and director of Realfun Learning Center, has made it his personal mission to teach as many students as possible how to code. Since opening Realfun Learning Center last year in Miri, Malaysia, that number of students is close to 600! In addition to providing specialized computer science and programming education to schools, he also tutors students individually and coaches them through coding competitions. One of his students, Teng Wei Rui, recently won the Design a Mission Patch challenge, earning his classroom a video chat with NASA scientist Dr. Jitendra Joshi! We’re so excited for Yuang Teck and Wei Rui. We had the opportunity to interview Yuang Teck and learn more about why he thinks coding is important for his students and for the economic future of Miri and Malaysia!
Yuang Teck shared with us how computer science education is generally perceived in Malaysia: “Computer science for us is there, but still as an elective. The general thinking is, ‘Does it get you a good grade or into a good university? If not, let’s focus on the core subjects first.’” Parents also struggle to understand why their children need these skills. But economic facts in Miri may soon help to change this perspective: “Miri is an oil town. As the oil price drops, the economy here becomes not very good.” Learning skills like programming will help students thrive as the success of Miri’s traditional industries fluctuates: “Learning to code is very important for individuals. That’s why I moved back to Miri: to help prepare the next generation for a better future. What can I teach them, how can I help them? I can teach them to code. That’s why I started Realfun Learning Center, to help kids and to help schools implement computer science subjects, particularly in the coding area.” For his students, Yuang Teck explains, the economic future is bright: “The demand for software developers in Malaysia far exceeds the current supply.” Other careers that require programming, like data analysts, are also in high demand in Malaysia.
“Learning to code is very important for individuals. That’s why I moved back to Miri: to help prepare the next generation for a better future.”
While it’s vital that kids learn to code so they can have the necessary technical skills to succeed, Yuang Teck also wants them to develop character skills like resilience and problem-solving. He shared with us how students are building these abilities through coding: “They may face bugs and unknown causes of why something happened. They will pick up that way of thinking, how to break down problems and find the root cause.”
When the mission patch challenge was announced, Yuang Teck was very excited to learn about NASA and space exploration and share this knowledge with his students. In this way, the coding challenge has helped spread not only excitement about coding but also enthusiasm for human spaceflight. Once students understood the concepts they needed to include in their mission patches, such as the Moon, Mars, and rockets, they started designing their patches. Some students found the process tedious and wanted to give up, while others, like Wei Rui, were resilient. In fact, Wei Rui had to complete his mission patch 3 times due to technical issues before finally submitting it.
When Yuang Teck and Wei Rui found out Wei Rui had won the challenge, they were both so excited that they couldn’t sleep! “He’s very famous now,” said Yuang Teck. “It’s all over the newspapers in Malaysia.” Certainly being one of 5 winners (out of nearly 10,000 submissions) of the Design a Mission Patch contest is a great personal accomplishment for Wei Rui and his family. But it’s also an opportunity to generate excitement about coding and NASA in Miri and throughout Malaysia, as Yuang Teck explains: “People ask ‘What can you do with coding?’ Well, that’s what you can do. Even a simple animation, not necessarily a complex app or game, can get you somewhere.”
Thank you so much for interviewing with Tynker, Teo Yuang Teck! Congratulations to both you and Teng Wei Rui for winning the mission patch challenge. We hope you continue to help students in Malaysia achieve their dreams through programming!
Interview responses have been lightly edited for style and brevity.
Check out our previous Tynker Blue Ribbon post about Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator Justin Mattson, who uses Tynker Junior to help his pre-readers acquire academic skills, grow self-confidence, and build a positive relationship with technology!