3D Printing Holiday Workshop with MAKE

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

This is our second visit to MAKE's studio. The first round where Big K was introduced to the concept of density, left a deep impression on the kids. Their walls were interestingly plastered with a material which one can sprawl all over, this was probably a way of letting us know that creativity is boundless and should not be inhibited. The place is also thoughtfully decorated with an aquarium and a little corner where various greens were planted! The kids were mesmerised and when I told them we were going back for a 3D printing workshop, they were ecstatic! ok, technically only Big K as Small K was too young for this. I have always been interested in a 3D printing machine. Bringing our imagination to life is such a dream! 

The class of ten started with Coach Chee Wee doing some ice-breaker activities. That didn't go very well with Big K who was perhaps a little overwhelmed that morning. She didn't want to participate or speak up. Thankfully Coach Chee Wee had his ways. Being a father himself, he definitely understood children. 

With patience, Big K slowly got into momentum and was speaking up and became her jolly self.

See what's printing?

Next came the introduction of the different parts of the 3D printing machine -- Extruder, Plastic Filament, Print nozzle and Heater block. Say what? You might think that a child as young as Big K (6.5yo) will not remember or even understand, but she did! She even won a prize for remembering where the filament was! It did help that I previously exposed her to a 3D doodler pen but that was a different level altogether. This 3D printer is way cooler! 

After the children were introduced to how a 3D printer works, then came the computer modelling bit. Using an online software, the children were able to learn how to add shapes, resize objects, zoom and rotate views. This was never taught to Big K and I guess it was great exposure. 

Being one of the youngest, she paired up with another 6yo for the project. Through it, they learned how to work as a team. Not rushing for a go at the laptop and not screaming bloody murder when her partner didn't like the colour she chose. Don't underestimate these little subtle moves. It moulds their character. I'm hoping that through such exposure, it will extend to things at home. She will learn to share and give in to her little brother. She does, but just not all the time. We want to cultivate greater empathy here.

So they clicked and they dragged and sliced their creation into layers before sending it to print. She was mighty proud of her bookmark. 

Another creation of hers. She said it was a snowflake which transformed into a dandelion. 

Next came the modelling exercise. They went on to design a house. As 3D printing takes a long while, such a project would probably need hours, hence they were only allowed to design the house. To be able to see a shape in it's 3D form is an excellent exercise for visualisation. Many Math (area and circle) questions these days involve rotational skills and seeing objects from different angles. As you move further down the road, during secondary school, there are even concepts of 3D being applied to topics on Trigonometry. If a child has poor 3D visualising skills, it would be tough to rectify when the time comes. 

The last step of the workshop is the Problem-Solving stage. During this segment, the children are split into teams. The older children get to be in the same team while the younger ones are in a team. The problem faced is the same. It really doesn't matter that you are older. Being older doesn't make you any more creative. A problem was presented to the children. in this case, the children were given a straw, a rubber band and a bottle with a marble in it. Their task was to create something with the 3D printing machine, to help in scooping the marble out. It was more straight-forward for the older kids who decided on making a scoop, shaped like a spoon. Interestingly, the younger children came up with a squarish shaped scoop with a hole at the end, for the straw to be poked through. How creative! Whether it works or not isn't the key. What is paramount is the thought process. They were taught to build a prototype and test it under different conditions. When things didn't go the way that it should, they had to think about how to make the solution even better. Slowly but surely, they team made small adjustments and tested frequently until finally, they succeeded in getting the marble out! This is a real like situation as with us adults who are out at work. Often, we have meetings to brainstorm for ideas. We don't always get the perfect solution, but no idea is too silly or crazy and one should not judge. Teamwork is an essential skill during this stage as it involved more than 2 children. I was expecting these children to be rushing for a go at scooping and probably someone would start snatching. But nooooo, none of these happened! I was appalled as if this were the situation at home, I'm pretty sure Big and Small K would be killing each other and screaming their heads off. Hence, environment and peer pressure does help in moulding a person's character!

At the end of the workshop, there was a simple ceremony where the certificates were presented. It wasn't just a piece of paper with her name written on it. It was an acknowledgement that she has done a good job. No matter whether a child is successful or not, over at MAKE, they praise. The important takeaway is that it is the process and not the product.

Big K has always enjoyed creating things. Creativity is not a competition. Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. I believe we are all born creative and curious, but our environment and sometimes parenting styles, stifles and throws everything out of the window. Undeniably, academics is important but I feel there is a need to marry play and learning. At least at a tender young age.That's when MAKE come into play. MAKE knows that the little ones' future will demand beyond academic excellence, a deep sense of creativity and problem-solving competencies. We want out kids to not only achieve in grades, but equally in character and life skills. How often is it that you see a child, incapable of even pouring water from a pitcher into a cup? I have seen it myself! Yet at the same time, we also hope to see our little ones do well in school. Such ironies right? And sounds really tough to achieve? Well,  it is tough if you don't provide the right environment for your child and continue to spoonfeed him/ her. At MAKE, they have created a program to help nurture the little ones. Children are very impressionable at a young age and between the ages of 7-12, they start developing lifelong mindsets and attitudes. If we do not provide the right assistance and environment, they may end up being textbook smart but not street smart.

After class, we hung around to admire some of the 3D printed objects created by the coaches. They are so cool don't your think?

These days, the exam questions have evolved. No longer do we have tons of questions which require you to regurgitate the paragraphs from the textbooks. Rote learning is passe. Students who learn purely by memory will not be able to visualise as soon as a twist is incorporated into the question. Many students there days are very one-track minded. In Math especially, there may be more than one method, but students often fail to discover them. They simply wait for someone to give them the model answers. Self-discovery is a more fulfilling path which will deepen their concepts.

Aligned with MOE's curriculum for Maths and Science, their program is divided into three sections: REFRESH, where children's understanding of key concepts are reinforced
MAKE. A core component where the child see theories come to life with their creations
SOLVE. Children will put their knowledge to the test in higher-order problem solving.

I'm really glad that there is now an enrichment centre which doesn't focus wholly on textbook knowledge, but has a more holistic approach.
For more details on their program, drop them a note today at contact@makelearning.co or check out their facebook or instagram pages.

For you, my readers, 

Quote the code: MISH&MAKE when you give them a call, valid till 31 July 2018

What are you waiting for? Let your little ones MAKE something today!

Disclosure: We were invited by MAKE to review their workshop. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.