BANGKOK MINI MAKER FAIRE AND YOUNG MAKER CONTEST
Following its success in 2015, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Technology's National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and other partners, Chevron Enjoy Science launched the second Bangkok Mini Maker Faire and Young Maker Contest during January 21-22, 2017 at The Street Ratchada in Bangkok. The Faire and Contest, proved to be Thailand’s largest maker event to date. The faire attracted over 5,000 makers, do-it-yourself hobbyists, engineers, teachers and students from all over Thailand. More than 345 Thais and international makers showcasing 122 works and inventions across more than 60 booths. Notable highlights were the Young Maker Contest themed on “innovations for the elderly and disabled,” workshops on 3D printers and drone-making, a Hebocon robot contest, and electric parades. The activities engaged younger members of the crowd and sparked their interest in STEM-oriented maker culture. During the Faire, the winners of the Enjoy
Science: Young Makers Contest were also announced. The King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang’s BME Innovation KMITL Team 2 won in the general education category for delivering a fall surveillance system using 3D non-contact sensor, while Songkhla Polytechnic College’s Team A earned the vocational education category award, for producing a cane equipped with a fall surveillance sensor.
The winning team received THB 400,000 scholarships and the opportunity to visit the Maker Faire in the United Kingdom, the second place team received THB 300,000 and travelled to Japan for their study tour.
The ultimate goal of this contest is to strengthen the maker culture to youth and the community, enabling the country to prepare for the Thailand 4.0 era, a governmental strategy to transform Thailand into a country driven by technology, creativity and innovation. In addition, supporting a strong maker culture in Thailand will stably enhance its national competitiveness.
CHEVRON ENJOY SCIENCE LAUNCHES THIRD TVET HUB IN SONGKHLA
Improving the country’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is an important means of upgrading Thailand’s workforce, and, in turn, enhancing the economic competitiveness of the country. Recognizing the importance of TVET, the Chevron Enjoy Science Project is working with government, academic, and private sector partners to establish TVET hubs that connect vocational education directly to industry-specific jobs.
In January 2017, the Chevron Enjoy Science Project launched its third TVET Hub in Songkhla in collaboration with Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya (RMUTSV). The TVET Hub at RMUTSV will work with 10 technical colleges in the southern region, including Hatyai Technical College, Krabi Technical College, Trang Technical College, Suratthani Technical College, and Nakorn Sri Thammaraj Technical College, to embed a research-based, internationally-proven STEM for TVET curriculum into the schools and provide professional development training to vocational teachers and administrators. In addition, the hub will establish a private sector engagement platform to link vocational institutions and students directly with employers. This helps to streamline vocational training to occupations, by connecting skilled students with well-paying jobs in partner companies.
MAKER SPACES CAN HELP TRANSFORM THAILAND’S EDUCATION SYSTEM
The maker movement refers broadly to the growing number of people who engage in the creative production of objects in their daily lives and who find physical and digital forums to share their processes and products with others. Though the idea of maker spaces is not a new one, it is only in recent years that participation in the “Maker Movement” has grown dramatically, with 2.3 million attending maker events around the world. The maker movement has also been promoted at the policy level, for example with the first ever White House Maker in 2014, as officials have learned the education benefits of the movement, especially on improving creative thinking and STEM skills. Along with this, they help improve curiosity, self-expression, invention, collaboration and in turn, confidence. Learning by leveraging the students ‘natural curiosity, also removes motivation as an issue. Maker spaces embed students in the creative process, giving them a platform to make and innovate. Importantly, students have the chance to build their personal identity by taking ownership of what they have made.
As the Chevron Enjoy Science project launches a maker space program with the National Science Museum in Bangkok, it is important to note that maker spaces are a new approach for Thailand and one that is being recognized to address some of the weaknesses of the country’s education system. Improvements related to creativity and innovation are of utmost significance to Thailand, as traditionally education has focused on memorizing and regurgitating information. This is as the country moves towards Thailand 4.0, a long-term national strategy to transform Thailand into a value-based economy, with an emphasis on research and development, science and technology, creative thinking, and innovation. Furthermore, the maker space philosophy is participatory, and therefore not limited to students at Thailand’s elite institutions, as learning through making reaches across the divide between formal and informal learning.
“The real power of this revolution is its democratizing effects. Now, almost anyone can innovate. Now almost anyone can make. Now, with the tools available at a maker space, anyone can change the world”
(Hatch, The Maker Movement Manifesto, 2014, p. 10).
Maker spaces have the power to inspire students in Thailand to excel in STEM subjects, by connecting their learning to everyday life scenarios, and therefore improve student engagement.
Learning through making, particularly with digital technologies, has the potential to reach institutional and policy goals for STEM learning for a range of students. The Enjoy Science maker space program allows students in Thailand to participate in creating, rather than purchasing the necessary equipment, which helps open the activity to all makers, not just those with the money to buy materials. Moreover, the range of what can be made is much wider than traditional maker spaces, expanding the reach of the program and stimulating innovation.
TEACHING AND LEARNING: STEM FOR TVET
Dr. Arthur Eisenkraft, Distinguished Professor of Science Education at the University of Massachusetts - Boston, led a 3-week hands-on workshop in Bangkok that provided training to 20 master trainers about maximizing the impact of Active Physics, a curriculum from the United States that the Chevron Enjoy Science Project has localized to strengthen the Thai vocational education system for grades 10-12. Active Physics students are motivated to learn science in the context of highly engaging and authentic “real-world” projects that guide instruction and serve to organize their learning. The workshop elevated the STEM content and pedagogical knowledge of master trainers, who will now serve as mentors to science teachers at vocational colleges across Thailand. Mr. Damrongsak Wongsranoi, recognized as an outstanding science educator at Pakthongchai Technical College in Nakhon Ratchasima province—and one of the master trainers and mentors for Active Physics— shared his thoughts on the program: “By participating in the Active Physics training, I have gained many insights. First, I now have a new teaching technique to engage students, and, second, the creation of a master trainer network allows us to share and discuss teaching methodologies with peers and trainers from It’s About Time. I am confident that this new teaching technique will benefit Thai vocational students and they will have more fun learning about science. If they enjoy classes more, they will learn more and the likelihood of them pursuing a STEM-related career in the future will also increase.”