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Enhancing Background in IGCSE Oxbridge Summer School

Language/语言:   English   简体中文
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By: Ken Deng   Published on 18 Jul. 2021

Approx. 1150 words, 5 mins

Hello there! My name is Ken and I am a Chinese senior high A Level student in Guangdong Country Garden School. Welcome to Ken's Study Journey website and blog! Today, I am going to talk about my study journey in the Oxbridge Summer School for enhancing my background.

I have been enrolled in the Oxbridge Plus program in my school, so I attended the Oxbridge Summer School to enhance my background for university application.

We learned some knowledge about compilers inside a computer. It let me know how does a compiler work actually, which motivate my interests in Computer Science.

It is similar as the summer camp I participated in in the United States in 2018 and United Kingdom in 2019. So, I got a chance to study in the summer vacation during the pandemic.


According to my routine, I usually study overseas during the summer vacation and have fun in the winter vacation in the past.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I didn’t go to any other countries last year (2020).

This year, I got a chance to study in the summer vacation, but it was held in my school GCGS. Even all courses in the summer camps are related to Computer Science and programming.

In the summer school, I sudden realised that this is similar to the summer camps I attended overseas in the past 3 years.

My Course Schedule

We have EPQ courses in the morning and background enhancement courses in the afternoon.

Different people have different directions and majors that they will apply for. So, we attend background enhancement courses with different subjects.

Building we Use

We use American High School (AP) building in my school.

It may be the smallest building in the school and it may be newer than the normal high school building that we usually attend lessons. So, I can enjoy a comfortable studying environment.

GCGS American High School Building

Communicating with Classmates

I usually talk about some ideas, including knowledge we learned today, with my classmates in my school along the way between the academic building, canteen and dormitory.

This can exchange ideas and gain knowledge with each other.

Day 1: Regular Expressions and Installing Apps

We used some apps to write and run codes. We are all using Apple's macOS.

Note: Because my computer system is very new (using macOS Monterey Beta), VirtualBox and Vagrant are not compatible on my laptop. So, I changed them into VMWare Fusion.

Regular expressions is used for format check for the text entered, such as email addresses, passwords and names.

We made a format checker according to this knowledge.

Day 2: Grammar

We also learned grammar in the compiler, which is used to check for syntax errors.

The project we made is a simple calculator. We just need to type the expressions and it will calculate automatically, like a student calculator.

Day 3: Computer Architecture and Low-level Language

Computers have 3 architectures, x86, x86-64 and ARM.

Windows computers use x86(-64), but smartphone chips and the new Apple M1 chip use ARM later on.

We also learned to translate a code written in a high-level programming language (e.g. Python) into a low-level language (assembly code) that can be run directly on computers. This can also be seen in AS and A Level Computer Science.

Day 4: Making a Programming Language

A high-level language program is written in a plain text format. The only thing we need to run it is to use a compiler or an interpreter.

So, it is possible to make a new programming language by making a compiler using regular expressions and grammar.

We learned to make a Codegen language and it was successful.

My EPQ Project: Apple's M1 Chip

Note: Some content of my EPQ project, including my full topic and questions, are not shown to strengthen academic honesty and prevent plagiarism.

Recently, Microsoft released Windows 11 and Apple released its own M1 chip.

In fact, M1 chip cannot run Windows OS and apps and Intel chip cannot run apps designed for M1 chip. So, they do not support each other.

This means we will not able to use macOS and Windows on the same computer in the future. That's the problem which stuck in my mind.

So, I am going to use computer science knowledge I learned to make a further research about some reasons behind.

For more information, please see this article.

Comparison to my Previous Summer Camps

In fact, I attended some summer camps in the United States in 2018 and United Kingdom in 2019.

I studies during the summer vacation about computer science, except for 2020 when I had full of IELTS lessons.

I am going to compare with 3 summer camps I have attended.

Year 2018 2019 2021
City Chicago, United States London, United Kingdom Foshan, China
Place Elmhurst University (previously college) Imperial College London Guangdong Country Garden School
Course Provider Midwest Torrance Centre Firetech Mirror Education
Organiser Bright Scholar TCTM Programming Guangdong Country Garden School
Number of Lessons a Day 4 1 2
Projects 4 1 3
School Starts at 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 9:00 AM
School Ends at 3:00 PM 4:00 PM 4:50 PM
Time of Lesson Intervals (mins) 6 10 10
Lesson Duration 1 hour 17 mins 1 hour 50 mins
Lesson Topics Making and Recording Songs,
Just like Photoshop,
Board Carving,
Science Experiments
Minecraft Game with Python EPQ,
Inside the Compiler
Apps Used LMMS
Inventables Easel
Visual Studio Code
macOS Terminal
Operating System Windows 10 Windows 10 macOS
Lesson Days 10 5 6*
Place for Accommodation School dorm Homestay School dorm
Collecting Phones? Only in the evening No From Monday to Friday

* Note: We had a 4-day course of background enhancement (Jul. 13 to Jul. 16) and a 6-day course of EPQ (Jul. 12 to Jul. 17). Thanks for my teacher for discovering this error.

We usually live in the school dorm in the summer camps in 2018 and 2021, but we lived in a homestay family in the 2019 camp. So, we just need to walk between the classroom and the dormitory within the campus, but we need to ride the coach and car between Imperial College and the homestay family in London.

My website was established in Feb. 2019. I didn't have any public resources, such as a website, YouTube channel, WeChat public account before, so I don't have an article about my 2018 summer camp.

In the 2019 and 2021 summer camps, we have all lessons in the same building. However, in the 2018 summer camp, I need to go to another building between lessons and there are only 6 minutes in the interval.

You can find my articles about my 2019 summer camp on my website.

Alright! This is the end of the article. Thanks for reading.

If you like this post, please click the thumb up button below and share this article. Also, you can write down your comment below if you have any ideas.

Still have questions or cannot understand my articles? Don't be hesitant to contact me and I am here to help you. I speak English and Chinese.

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