events, events 2018

SPROUT – A Learning Journey

[Photo Above] Alumnus Javier Chai (Class of 2015) mid-workshop through ‘An Introduction to Indo-European Languages’ 

By Oviya

Ready, Set, Sprout!’ proclaims the header of an e-mail informing students of the sign up dates for SPROUT.

Held this year on 26th and 28th June for the fourth time since its inception, SPROUT is a series of annual workshops conducted by our very own NUS High alumni.

What started off in 2015 with only 2 workshops on architecture and dance has now grown to encompass 9 workshops covering a diverse array of topics. This year, topics ranged from puzzle solving and basic hacking to languages and beatboxing.

Some of the topics were words that we are accustomed to, such as the Fourier series. In the workshop ‘Heat, noise and…image compression’, participants were introduced to the Fourier series and its uses in everyday life. So is the term ‘puzzle solving’, but this workshop proved itself to be more exciting than what many students had signed up for. Students learnt about the concept of puzzle hunts and gained insight into the thinking process behind solving puzzles and meta-puzzles.

Certainly, all of us are familiar with probability riddles (e.g. Monty Hall Problem), escape rooms, and matchstick puzzles. But what about REX, THE RAM, MEDS, STRAIT, TROOP [1]”? This is an example of a meta-puzzle, for which the 5 words would have been deciphered from previous puzzles. There being no explicitly defined goal or method to attack the puzzle leads to this presenting itself as a conundrum to the layperson. But to the experienced eye, clues can be gleaned, and this workshop attempted to bring across the thinking process in doing so.

What should one do in a crisis? The SGSecure workshop saw two army medics answering this and more. Beatboxing, basic hacking and hand lettering were other workshops in which students picked up skills not taught in school.

Directed towards the chess enthusiasts among us was the ‘1972: The chess match that shook the world’ workshop, which focused on a select few of the 21 matches between renowned chess player Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky for the title of world champion in 1972. The aftermath of the championship was also discussed, a significant aspect considering that this took place during the height of the cold war.

Two of the workshops were language-centric. Both workshops, one entitled the ‘Languages of Africa’ and the other ‘An Introduction to Indo-European languages’ , were instructed by NUS High school graduate Javier Chai. The latter was a quick crash-course on the major subfamilies of the Indo-European language family. It was an amalgamation of learning some history and distinctive features of the different languages, light humor and interesting questions from the audience.

“Dutch… I’d say it’s like drunk German”
Pronouncing ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’ and other impossible names
Different numbering conventions (French and Danish systems)
The bane of language learners: subjunctive mood
Why does Portuguese sounds so much like Russian?
Is Tamil Indo-Aryan?
Difference between Italic and Romantic languages

This workshop was a fun and enriching experience for all attendees as they learnt about the various languages beyond the borders of conventional, commonly spoken languages.

At its core, SPROUT is about trying out new activities beyond the boundaries of school curriculum and pursuing passion with childlike enthusiasm, just like our seniors who have conducted these workshops. The best of wishes in your learning endeavors!

[1] Radio