Science Centre Singapore collaborated with The Kidz Parade to organise a two days long Make ‘n’ Speak camp which was all about design thinking, and of course Making. The theme of the camp was sustainability. The main objective was for the kids to Make a prototype which allows life to be more sustainable.
The kids understood what sustainability is all about through brief discussions and also through a guided tour around the climate change exhibition. I believe that after the exhibition they had a better idea of what the world is facing now and why thinking about sustainability is important. After that they were told to think of two things:
(i) The problem –> The solution
The solution should be in the form of a machine and not just “Don’t do it because it harms the Earth”
(ii) A problem which already has a solution —> Make the solution more effective
There were discussions about how there should be lunar panels instead of only solar panels. Some kids talked about how water is being wasted and automatic taps and motion sensor taps were invented to decrease water wastage. Another group discussed about the waste of toilet paper because people wash hand and waste a lot of toilet paper and that led to the invention of hand dryer. Thats when one kid asked “Isn’t that a waste of electricty?”.
Thats when the facilitators stepped in to explain to the kids that we compare which is more eco-friendly and cost-effective when we find solutions. We could tell that the children tried their best to think and also attempted to answer our questions instead of expecting answers from us. The usage of the Scratch software and Makey Makey was also taught to them so that they can incorporate that technology into their innovative inventions. They were also breifed on presentation skills such as acting confident even when one is nervous by not fidgiting and having eye contact with the audience rather than just looking in front. At the end of the day each kid had his or her own idea(a rough one at least) of the prototype they might want to make.
It started off with ideation where the kids thought and discussed more about their prototype and decided on a prototype their group will be taking up as their project. And then the Making started…
The children were so brilliant! Many of them had to try again and again to make their propeller rotate using a DC motor, solar-powered gadgets work, enable to the car wheels to rotate etc. Some worked in a team very well while others had issues working as team because they were not open to suggestions from their fellow team-mates. But eventually they had to come to a decision and one had to give in to the other. We were also glad to see children being able to learn from failures, pick themselves up and think of another alternative. One or two groups felt that they did not achieve what they wanted to but they did not pull a long face. Instead they explained what went wrong and what could have been better with utmost pride of their own creation. When we said dismantle certain parts of your prototype because we need the solar panels, DC motors etc back, they were so sportive. They immediately did so and brought the remaining back home.
Saying that the facilitators were impressed with the kids attitude and Making skills is definitely an understatement. They simply knocked us off our feet. And at the end of the day I thought “At their age, I was probably doodling on paper and watching cartoons. Look at them they talk about DC motors, LEDs, batteries, solar panels etc. I learnt them all in secondary school.”