The Maker movement has been prevalent over the past few years, so the K-12 Education Administration of the Ministry of Education has held their first “3D Printing Ubiquity Incubation Truck Racing” this January to improve the Maker spirit started by Fab Lab and Fab Truck, to bring the Maker culture into schools. Six vocational schools, New Taipei Vocational Industrial High School, Tao-Yuan Agricultural & Industrial Senior High School, National Taichung Industrial High School, National Tainan Second Senior High School, National Fong Shan Senior Commercial & Industrial Vocational School and National Hualien Industrial High School, all participated in the 3 races of Creative Trucks, Sumo Trucks and Cross-country Trucks.
January 24, the day Taipei had its first graupel in 120 years, and the 3D Printing Ubiquity Incubation Sumo Truck and Cross-country Truck Races were being held at the TAF innovation base. It was cold but the young contestants from all 6 schools still woke up early and were full of burning desires to win the races with their own unique trucks.
Each team’s Sumo Truck was predesigned before the competition, and made on-site for the competition, testing the young Makers’ time management skills. The competition took place on a circular platform, with a hiding place in the middle, with 2 trucks going against each other in a match. To win, the contestants would have to force their oppoents’ truck to leave the platform and touch the ground with any way possible. If neither side wins within 4 minutes, the 5 referees would vote for a winner. The preliminary was a single-elimination tournament, and after a series of tough fights, National Fong Shan Senior Commercial & Industrial Vocational School, New Taipei Vocational Industrial High School and National Taichung Industrial High School made it to top 3, and were to fight in the round-robin tournament.
Put your ideas into actions like a true Maker
We have interviewed the champion team National Fong Shan Senior Commercial & Industrial Vocational School, whose design concept for their Sumo Truck was to flip the enemy over, so they put slant boards on the front and back of the truck, and used high-density foam, the material they sought for some time, for the tires, to increase friction and prevent skidding. Both of their Sumo Trucks are of the same design, and the team was very confident throughout the entire competition. They believe the key to victory is timing, only when the positioning is right, and with enough strength, can you beat the opponent with one single blow. Their leader also shared with us: “As long as you have ideas, you can take part in the competition. Making something with your own hands, putting your ideas into actions, and finish the competition, is such a rewarding thing to do.”
For the Cross-country Truck Race, each team had to make a truck and a checkpoint before the race, which would be 6 checkpoints in total, making up a race track with the shape of Taiwan; each team started from their own checkpoint and went around Taiwan anti-clockwise in 8 minutes. The team that made through the most checkpoints won. They could skip through any checkpoint they found difficult, to the next one. Many teams skipped difficult checkpoints without hesitation to save time for the rest of the race, which was also a great strategy. The Cross-country Truck Race had all kinds of challenging terrains and dynamic traps on the checkpoints testing the contestants’ reflexes and resistance. The race ended up with National Fong Shan Senior Commercial & Industrial Vocational School, Tao-Yuan Agricultural & Industrial Senior High School and National Hualien Industrial High School on top 3.
Fight till the last moment with true Maker spirit
During the race, a minor setback happened to the Cross-country Truck of National Tainan Second Senior High School. Their truck would not run due to the weather of that day, despite their greatest efforts to repair it, and hence they could not take part in the race. They apologized for it, and the host of the race felt sorry for them as well. Even though they could not show everybody what they had worked so hard on, the team of National Tainan Second Senior High School still won the crowd’s applause for their efforts that could not be ignored.
Go for the best attitude
As two-timed champion, the team of National Fong Shan Senior shared with us the design ideas for their Cross-country Truck. It has a semicircular body, which is highly stable, will flip itself back when flipped over. The tires are made of soft material with rubber bands to improve grip, after they had tested over 50 other shapes of tires. The checkpoint they designed was also called by other teams as the “Devil’s Checkpoint,” which is some kind of tightrope walking design so they just skipped it right away, and when it was National Fong Shan Senior’s turn to challenge it, people were looking forward to it. However, it was so cold that day that their batteries kept dying and dying. After several failed attempts they had to skip their own checkpoint as well. When the race was over they tried again with new batteries and successfully passed it! The contestants told us that before the race they tried it ten times and all passed, but in the actual race they failed and so they were extremely nervous, but they still overcame the odds and won the championship. One of the young contestants, Mr. Wu, also told us that his most memorable moment in the entire race was working with his partners and going for the best spirit and attitude possible.
Learn from experiences, the truck race goes on
For Creative Trucks, the National Tainan Second Senior High School won Best Design, aka the Decepticon Award, and Tao-Yuan Agricultural & Industrial Senior High School won Best Funtionality, aka the Autobot Award. All 6 schools did exceptionally well in different areas. Because this was the first Truck Race they have held, one of the instructors told us that the rules were still a little fuzzy, and they can hopefully be improved in the next race. In the process of making these trucks, schools from all over the nation were able to interact with one another, and inspired one another to be more creative and do even better. This was something they could never learn from textbooks, the significance of Maker education in action.