FabLearn Taiwan 2016 Answers Your Questions! Part II

FabLearn Taiwan 2016 Answers Your Questions! Part II

The FabLearn Conference originated from Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2011, and has been held in many countries like USA, Denmark, Australia, Brazil and Japan. It aims to provide school teachers, makers and anyone who is interested in maker education a place to meet and exchange ideas through various activities like workshops, seminars and forums. It also encourages maker educators to communicate with one another directly or indirectly, schools and maker spaces to share experiences in teaching, equipment operation and skills. There are also workshops and seminars where teachers and makers can discuss about any maker education topic and their future collaborations, and the introduction of maker culture to the people.

Maker activities are thriving day by day, so the government of Taiwan has made 2016 the first year of the Hacker. In order to help educators learn more about Maker education, FabLearn 2016 has invited many international and Taiwan’s local Maker education practitioners to give speeches. The local speakers focused on Maker education for high schools, discussed about how to introduce new content to keep up with the trends under the current education system and curriculum guidelines, and also showcased their achievements in Maker education.

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The way to become a Maker?

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To turn your students into Makers, you might need to be one first. 

Prefessor Jeen-Shing Wang of Department of Electrical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University is also in charge of the department’s EEi Makerspace. He believes that, only when you have Maker experience yourself, can you train other people into Makers, and together with a course platform development team and an educational tool development team, these are the three necessary things to make everything work. He also concluded several key abilities for Makers who take part in international contests with his own experience in leading his teams. Besides skills, you would also need abundant stamina, the storytelling ability to attract viewers, and the language ability to talk with people from all over the world. These are the things Maker education needs to improve.

Maker education? It has always been there

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You might have heard of Maker education for the first time, but you already knew it. 

“We should have known better” is what Mr. Weisheng Lin(林威昇), teacher of living technology and information management at National Tainan Girls’ Senior High School thinks of Maker education. He mentioned that Maker education is nothing new, the living technology class has been teaching crafting, technical drawing and machine operating since 15 years ago, but in order to keep up with time, Maker education has to go back to the aspects of “creativity” and “design.” National Tainan Girls’ Senior High School has done just that, they have 3D modeling in their fine arts classes, and robot sensory and control, self-driving vehicle, 3D modeling and digital logic circuit design in their elective courses. These are some of the required skills students need to become Makers. National Tainan Girls’ Senior High School sets an example for other schools that want to start Maker courses.

Exploring new things, what do you need?

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Mr. Shixun Hong(洪士薰) the homeroom teacher of the Math Classroom and gifted class at the National Tainan Girls’ Senior High School believes that, motivation is key when you explore new things. Despite being new to Maker education, he already has enough experience leading his students in international science fairs and won. He mentioned that as long as the students are motivated, they can do things well, and do them happily. As a mathematical modeling professional, he teaches his students to make mathematical indices on the incidence of cardiac arrhythmia based on the pacemaker mathematical model, and applies it on the research of wearable devices. During the research, he found out that the reason for slow reaction when doing research is “neglecting the question before the question.” Forgetting why you ask the question while focusing on the question itself. Many researches are less difficult when you ask the right questions.

Do you want it? Your teacher will make one for you

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As a technical drawing teacher of National Tainan Industrial High School, Mr. Yishun Wang(王義順) has been trying to bring Maker culture into his class. During the process, he found out that students who have interest perform the best, because you don’t need to tell them what to do, they are always eager to learn, and which is why it is crucial how teachers should cultivate a self-learning young generation. Meanwhile, Mr. Wang also realized there aren’t enough 3D printers in the school for each and every student during class, so together with his colleagues, they decided to make 3D printers by themselves. It is now the second generation, and an estimated amount of NT$ 100,000 is enough to manufacture 15 printers. Unlike some countries where 3D printers are sold at a million dollars each, they spent only 1% of the money to be able to provide the operating experience to all the students.

How does one approach Maker education?

Besides Taiwan’s local speakers, there were several foreign speakers with experiences we can learn from as well. For example, Japanese speaker Youka Watanabe from GLOBAL STEM LEARNING pointed out that Maker education in Japan has often been all talk and no action. Plan executors and students usually have poor understanding of the original plan; the Thai speaker Nalin Tutiyaphuengprasert Tukta, the host of the DSIL fablab@school, described that in Thailand, Maker education is supported by the Ministry of Technology, not the Ministry of Education. While in Taiwan, despite the endless supply of equipment, there aren’t enough qualified teachers to keep up with the hardware. How teachers should prepare themselves for the Maker generation, and create a more experimental and scientific environment for the students is a huge challenge. Besides reading the book “INVENT” the speakers recommend, seeking help from other teachers and educational activities will work as well. This is exactly what FabLearn 2016 hopes to change.

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After hearing from Taiwan’s speakers, it’s time for the international speakers. Read more about it here: FabLearn Taiwan 2016 Answers Your Questions! Part I

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