Visitors at the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire would probably remember a booth with a digital ‘Like’ counter tied to poles as well as the adjacent booth with electronic kits for kids.
The digital counter was controlled by an Arduino, an open-source platform that allows people to build their own gadgets while the electronic kits are for younger children to start tinkering with electronics as they are less intimidating. The booths belong to friends Adrian and Wai Him, both makers and hobbyists.
Many visitors to their booths discovered that the electronic kits and Arduino are fantastic platforms for their children to pick-up electronics in an interesting way through experiential learning. Adrian and Wai Him shared with me something once said by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, that a person may forget if he was simply being told. Hence, this explains the title of this blogpost. Adrian and Wai Him are guided by the belief that a person may remember if being taught (such as using additional visual aids like powerpoint), but the real learning occurs when the person is involved through experimentation and play.
Adrian and Wai Him have joined forces this year in returning to the second Singapore Mini Maker Faire. On top of their maker booth, they will have a presentation to share on how families can have fun, learn together and build interactive projects for the home making use of the Arduino platform. Let’s hear from them more as returning makers.
What makes you return to the Mini Maker Faire?
A & WH : This event is a good opportunity for the general public to have a better understanding of the Maker Culture. By soaking in the atmosphere of Makers, Dreamers, Creators and Builders at the Maker Faire, people would be inspired to start making their own creations and hopefully in turn enrich their lives.
What was your experience like during the last Maker Faire? Did you notice any trend among the people interested in your booth and your gadgets? Were they people who are already into electronics or novices? What did it feel like sharing your experience with electronic gadgets?
A & WH : Some visitors had never heard about the ‘Arduino’ & the maker movement. After sharing, they seems motivated enough to go explore further. Some had heard a little about ‘Arduino’ but don’t know how to take the first step. We’re heartened to have interacted with many parents at our booths who wished their child can learn electronics and have fun along the way.
(Personally, I think it is encouraging when you get visitors who have no prior knowledge of your stuffs. It is a possible sign that people are keen to find out more about something beyond their comfort zone, and that is a good thing! At the point of the interview, Adrian and Wai Him were still contemplating how to better help those interested to find out more about Arduino. It is great to learn of their subsequent decision to share more via a presentation. )
Did you think the Maker Faire was useful to the maker movement here? Did you see any changes since then?
A & WH : Yes to both. There has been impact especially to those who are already aware and searching around for the community of makers locally. One of your Science Centre colleague William Hooi has been very active in the maker community and generating interest in the maker scene. More should be done to raise awareness in the maker movement. This is a good platform for science centre to reach-out to the public and schools and make learning science and technology fun by leveraging on the diversity of ideas of the maker community.
(Kudos to William and his relentless efforts!)
What are you intending to showcase this time?
A & WH : Like last year, our concept is still to bring across the message ‘Start your Maker journey one small step at a time. In time to come, you’ll look back and find you’ve taken a giant leap’. We will extend our showcase based on last year. So we’ll still show the ‘Like’ counter. To show what it was last year and how it has evolved this year. We’re also planning an interactive light or sound display that is controlled by participants at the booth (eg using distance sensors).
In addition to introducing and selling electronics/hobbyist parts and kits, we’re planning to conduct experiential learning workshops in electronics, Arduino and Arduino robotics.
What are your expectations from the second Mini Maker Faire held in Singapore, and what would you like to achieve out of it?
A & WH : We hope that the second Mini Maker Faire brings more people together (compared to last year) and raise more people’s awareness on the maker movement.
Hope that Science Centre can do more on publicity so that the event can be made known to people who are NOT aware of the maker movement. Is there a better way (or more fund) to reach out to more schools such as with resources from MOE? How about asking last year’s participants (including makers, vendors, sponsors) to publicise on their website or during their events etc
(A & WH provided us very honest feedback about his expectations from the second Singapore Mini Maker Faire. Indeed, we are also looking at extending our reach beyond those who are already fans of the maker movement, so that more can benefit from the goodness of this movement. The importance of the call for more publicity is very real, and we will not be able to do it alone. Throughout the past year, since the last Faire, it is heartening that our following (at seen from our Facebook page) had nearly doubled, and more importantly, we have seen a growth in the variety of the makers that have got to know about the Faire. *beam* Hence, as suggested by A & WH, we hope to garner all your support to help us spread the words as much as possible, by linking to our blog, liking our Facebook page, following our Twitter account and sharing our posts. We knew that many of you have already done that. Our heartfelt gratitude for all your efforts! )
Would you have any advice or words of encouragement to give to newcomers at this year’s Maker Faire? How about advice to people who are new to electronic gadgets?
A & WH : For newcomers, do not worry that what you have to share is simple or easy. The simplicity could be the motivating factor for some people to start their Maker journey.
For people new to electronic gadgets, take a look at our website (3egadgets.com) and come over to our booth. Meanwhile, they can look up the internet to see gadgets that people can make themselves and go to the library to borrow some good books on basic electronics and Arduino.