Easy STEAM Education for Young Makers! The Top Teams of Maker Faire Taipei 2018

First image by Fabrice Florin @flickr, for demonstration purposes only

  • Written by Minyu (旻諭)

The Sixth Annual Maker Faire Taipei ended in early November. Since everybody is talking about STEAM education, why don’t we take a look at how well makers have brought STEAM education into everyday life.

  • Here is a sneak peek at the participants in Maker Faire Taipei 2018: Event Documentary

Now, let me introduce the teams: Inventor Daddy (發明家爸爸) and Wanfu Elementary School of Wenshan, Taipei.

Thematic teaching helps children become great makers

Inventor Daddy Yue Lin (林岳) teaches toy-making to children from kindergarten to second grade using thematic and open teaching, which trains them to become better at observing, thinking about, and solving problems.

Inventor Daddy teaching children how to make toys. Image from Inventor Daddy Facebook page

Most of the toys Yue Lin invented for the children are made of readily available materials. Let’s take a look.

Superalloy Pullback Car—Don’t just assemble: observe, think, and solve problems!

In his class, Lin always tries to teach children how to observe actively, and he never gives them a fixed set of materials. “There are different toy samples on the desk, and the children choose the toys and find out for themselves what materials they need to make them.”

The Superalloy Pullback Car, one of Inventor Daddy’s educational toys. Image by Peggy

Whenever a student wants to make a Superalloy Pullback Car, for example, Lin gives guidance in thinking about how to go about making it. The child will then realize that the necessary materials are bottle caps, a box, straws, and chopsticks, and begin to find these materials around the classroom.

“If I just handed them the materials, they would all make the same thing,” Lin said. “Once a child has made a functioning motor toy from scratch by themself, the next time they see a retail toy car, they’ll know it’s not just a box, that it has a motor, a battery, and a reduction drive inside.”

Infinite Bubble Creator: create bubbles with materials on hand

One day Lin was preparing a bubble bath for his daughter, but there weren’t enough bubbles, so they tried to solve the problem together: “Let’s see if we can make some huge bubbles!”

Lin connected an air pump motor to the showerhead and told his daughter to hold it, wait for air to come out, then put it in the water. The bathtub was immediately filled with bubbles like a volcanic eruption, and they had a great time together.

Lin also told us that he made the Infinite Bubble Creator to let the children have fun and at the same time make them feel like they have accomplished something. Using materials you can find around your home to make a device that creates bubbles is a good example of solving problems with your child.

Parents have to be part of it

As father to an adorable daughter, Yue Lin talked about what he has seen in his teaching booth: “If the parents are good at this, it helps their children a lot.” Lin only has about two hours a week with his students, unlike their own parents, who can spend time with them every day. If parents can work with children to solve problems in their daily life, it is very helpful for the children. Lin encourages parents to spend time with their children on weekends, doing things like making cakes, or changing light bulbs, and letting the children assist them with the tools, so they can learn that solving problems is not difficult at all.

Interdisciplinary teaching, with local stories and lights

Not far from Inventor Daddy’s booth, a huge piece of art was on display: the Story Lights by Wanfu Elementary School of Wenshan District, Taipei City.

  • Let’s zoom in on each of these boxes:

Inside each box is a rotating disc driven by a reduction gear attached to three story slides. “The idea of the Story Lights was inspired by vintage film reels,” said the art teacher at Wanfu Elementary School.

For many years, Wanfu Elementary School has been trying to integrate social science, natural science, art and humanities to help students acquire interdisciplinary knowledge. For instance, when the teacher explains the light source for the slides inside a Story Light, and they see it reflected on the tracing paper, the children can learn about the interplay between light and shadow.

The stories featured in the Story Lights are based on real-life events that the children of Wanfu Elementary collected from their families and neighbors. Making Story Lights not only helped the children learn about the history of their neighborhood, but also brought them closer to their grandparents.

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