The 2018 Maker Manufacturing Festival (創客智造節) took place on December 8 at the National Taiwan Science Education Center. The festival was organized by the Workforce Development Agency Taipei-Keelung-Yilan-Hualien-Kinmen-Matsu Regional Branch with the goal of promoting maker culture, and consisted of three parts: the Maker Manufacturing Pavilion (創客製造主題館), Maker Assembly (創客大會師), and Fighting Robots (格鬥機器人). Many of Taiwan’s maker teams took part iEn forums and workshops where they talked about their experiences.
Creativity on display
In the Maker Assembly section, makers set up booths displaying products developed by schools, companies and other maker organizations. The products included augmented reality and virtual reality devices, interactive multimedia products, smart devices, smart services, robots, 3D paper models, and 3D printed Strandbeests.
The winning products of the I’m a Maker—Creative Design Contest at the Maker Manufacturing Pavilion included the Smart Home Bridge, Smart Agricultural Protection Drone, Smart Puzzles, Interactive Robot Patch, 3D printed Strandbeest robots, Beehive Shield—Electronic Wasp Repellent, and the DO Guitar. The winning products were on display for visitors to try out.
The Fighting Robot Arena was the most popular area of the entire event because, apart from the actual robot war that took place in the morning, experts were also on hand to explain robot designs, principles of programming, and fighting techniques. In the afternoon, there was also a Family Time Activity where children could play with the robots.
Learning through play
The topic for the Maker Forum in the afternoon was The Era of Artificial Intelligence and Maker Development. The invited speakers were Fablab Taipei founder Ted Hung and MIT Media Lab visiting scholar David Tseng.
Ted Hung talked about setting up Fablab and its current global business operations. “The core values of Fablab are manufacturing, learning and sharing,” said Hung, and these originated in the MIT creative course “How to Make (almost) Anything,” in which students have to make something crazy at the end of the semester. To spread the idea of open-source resources, they have started building Fablabs in places like Egypt and Afghanistan, to help solve local problems and spread ideas across other countries through online networking.
Inside every Fablab today, you always find a digital paper cutter, a CNC machine, and a webcam setup that shows you what other Fablabs are doing. A yearly international Fablab meetup brings makers from all over the world to interact.
“The smartphone has only been around for ten years,” said David Tseng, “and already it has had a huge impact on our lives. Computer science is less than a hundred years old and is a lot younger than traditional subjects. Parents have to help their children figure out what they want to do.” Tseng stressed the importance of having different programming teaching tools for children of different ages. He also used the example of Scratch, a programming software targeted at children, as a new programming tool for children.
“Children have to be happy while they learn because then they want to interact with others, which makes them think and become creative.” Tseng laid out what he calls “the four Ps” in education: project, peer, passion, and play. “Besides being interested in what they learn, peers and the learning environment are also important.”
The importance of being curious. Example over precept.
During the Q&A, someone asked what kind of children should learn about artificial intelligence. Tseng and Hung agreed that if a child shows interest in the topic, the parents should be supportive.
As for how to help your child find passion for programming, Tseng said that the opposite of programming education is vision care, which leads to the key point: the child has to learn something he is interested in. “It’s okay if they’re not interested. Don’t force your child to learn something just because everybody else is learning it.”
Hung argued that “Example is better than precept. Your child is always learning from you. You should encourage them to do things they like.”
Live smart and use IoT to solve problems
In addition to the speeches, there was also a Paper Arm Handicraft Trial Workshop where you could make stretchable, controllable arms out of paper boxes. Many different paper arm fixtures were available for different objects, and visitors could design their own paper arms, and even take part in the contest and test their designs.
At the IoT Workshop Presentation, participants worked for more than ten hours to solve several potential real-life problems centering on traffic, the economy, the environment, and energy using AI image recognition and other IoT elements. The IoT Workshop closed out a very successful festival.”