Top Mentor & Organization Sharing: MakeX Spark Enables Kids to Develop Themselves Further into Better Learners !

During our 2020 MakeX Spark Online Competition – Housework Helper, there are five Excellent Organizations and five Excellent Mentors standing out with amazing accomplishments! Congratulations on their remarkable success and we are truly impressed by their passion and dedication!

Do you wonder about their secrets? Now let’s take a look at what they talk about when they talk about Spark!

“My name is Koh Choon Chuan. I have been in the STEM education industry for the past 10 years. I specialize in robotics and coding and have been with EP Education (EPedu) for 5 years. Through integrating hands-on digital experiences with our personalized teaching methods, we aim to provide a unique learning experience for every student and assist them in achieving their personal goals.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, many competitions throughout the year were canceled, including those our students had already been preparing hard for. When we found out about MakeX Spark, the students were excited to have an opportunity to showcase their skills and everything they had been learning throughout the year.

The most challenging part for my team was to think of novel creations that hadn’t been made before that could also be made and programmed with the resources they had at their disposal. Although it took us a while to brainstorm, we eventually overcame this hurdle by encouraging the students to think outside of the box and be creative.

No secret. Just dedication. We coach the students and don’t spoon-feed them the answers, and eventually, they will learn how to find the answer.”

——Koh Choon Chuan at EP-Tec Solutions PTE LTD

“I’m Herman Neo from Singapore, I started at DuinoCode by teaching the mBot course.

For the 2020 MakeX Spark Online Competition, we manage to get eight of our students to take part in it. We felt that it was a very good experience for them as they could apply all the skills and knowledge that they’ve learned, and MakeX Spark enables them to develop themselves further into better learners. As for myself, I felt that I’ve also managed to develop myself better as a trainer.

We spent about a total of 7 weeks from start to finish. We created a weekly timeline so that the students would target what they need to finish within the week. This helped in preventing any last-minute changes or things that need to be done, and it allowed the students to plan ahead accordingly.

Throughout the competition, both the students and I faced many difficulties. Having to manage students of different pace and skill levels can be quite challenging, as some students required more help than others. I was constantly multi-tasking to make sure the students got the help they needed with their projects. As for the students, most of them faced technical issues, such as having trouble building and assembling their external parts for their projects and having all their components work properly in unison, hence there was a lot of trials and errors for them to finalize their prototype. But we were able to work through them together.”

—— Herman Neo at DuinoCode

“My name is Abimanyu Theophano, I am a teacher and also an IT developer from Indonesia.

The MakeX Spark Online competition is very interesting for me and the students here because they can be motivated to learn and be creative, how to make a technology to solve problems, and how the technology that has been created can be tested and truly unique.

The most difficult thing for us is to make sure that the children are not bored in completing this project. We know that during this pandemic it is very difficult for us to have face-to-face discussions. It takes time to sacrifice and motivates students that this project is not a burden, but they can consider it an activity to make a toy. As they were playing with toys, so were our activities at that time. Knowledge and patience are the keys, building enthusiasm for children places them as partners in work.”

——Abimanyu Theophano

“My name is Zeljko Udovcic. I’m a mentor at a primary school in Croatia.

At first, we joined this competition because we have been working with Makeblock for years and we are well familiarized with them and it was convenient in the current pandemic situation, but I must admit I was really surprised with it. It isn’t classical robotic competition nor programming, it also requires creativity, research, and a whole serious project circle.

I was given the opportunity to show what real projects look like and then from them to adopt that and put it into practice.

We have several groups for the competition. Because of pandemics, we are not allowed to mix students from different classes. So we have classes with younger kids at school once a week and older kids have every evening hour and half of classes online. And that was the most challenging part. But it also had one positive side, kids need to socialize and they are really enjoying classes and keep pushing me to organize it every day. ”

——Zeljko Udovcic

“I’m Bilal from Pakistan. I would like to share with you our journey both as a student and as a mentor.

Students journey begins at stage 1 where they enroll for a coding course on mBot, Halocode or Codey Rocky. Our essential part here is that we have to teach them the fundamentals of robotics. And it’s important to mention here, that the role of all mentors at this stage is as a teacher to transfer the knowledge. We are empowering students to have a full understanding of how the robot operates, works and then code it. Once we’re happy with their progress, we then move on them to the competition and it all begins with the ideation stage. This is a stage where we sit with our students and discuss all the topics based on the theme. They will brainstorm a lot and the role of a mentor at this stage has shifted from a teacher to a supervisor. So, we have to ensure that the projects they have selected cover all the key topics that will be judged for. Then students go on to the building, coding and testing stage. At this stage, we will provide all the necessary resources for students to independently complete their prototype. And our role is like the head coach, meaning basically we have to ensure that we try to get the best out of them, and if they get stuck, we’ll help them. And the last stage is to present their masterpiece. Students start working on the recording and editing and poster designs. We are a director at this stage, and they are the actors. We just make sure that they cover all the aspects that judges can clearly view all the hard work they have done.

We would like to thank the MakeX Committee for organizing such a well-organized event. It was a very smooth process. And the best part about this competition is that they were able to share all the projects with friends and family, so they had their own page. And they were really excited about that.”

——Syed Bilal Hassan

“My name is Abdul Razak Esakjee. I’m the director and operations head of uTyala STEM Institute, a STEM education service provider based in South Africa.

For the 2020 MakeX Spark Online Competition, we were really excited to participate in this first online competition purely because it would have given us the exposure to compete on an international scale. To promote and encourage kids to participate in the competition, we used predominantly social media channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram because of the restrictions that were placed upon us as a country during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

In terms of mentoring kids, the secret that we use behind it to allow kids to think freely and to think creatively. We don’t impose any ideas on them but rather we guide them towards realizing the ideas and implementing the solutions to the problems that they needed to solve. At the end of the day, uTyala STEM Institute has been established to develop critical, cognitive and independent thinking skills in children using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies as an enabler to achieve that.”

——uTyala STEM Institute

“MakeX Spark is a terrific teaching material for young students to develop coding creativity and experience. The best point we learned is that coding education should be stimulating students’ interest, not just cramming something to their brain.

We launched 2nd match class from Oct, 23rd and our teachers has focused on from the basic, not just some techniques. Teachers encourage creativity and ideation for 1 month and we moved to technical parts like coding, ppt, laser cutting. Also, we spent 1 week for presentation training as it is one of pivotal parts in on-line competition, we think.”——Beyond Coding

“My name is Laura Wu. I have been working in the education sector for 15 years. In 2018, I started up STEM@IT in Italy.

We helped a school to apply and win the national fund “STEM 2020”, then we designed the proposal project with HaloCode and IoT kit, making the participation of MakeX Spark the final objective. In this way, the school gets funds to rent our kits and pay the external experts to insert the curriculum inside their school projects from September 2020.

It is okay for us to give lessons on distance due to the school lockdown in November, but it is really difficult to mentor kids in distance for their own projects. We scheduled with kids one by one to tutor their works. The language was another obstacle. A lot of middle school kids gave up presenting their work when they knew that they have to do it in English. We contacted school English teachers and parents to search for their support in this case.

At first, I was not so convinced that our students could be able to participate in the competition after 3 months of intensive training. And I thought competitions or winning is not that important to them, but I was wrong. When they need to design, construct, and present their work at the end of the project, they surprised me by their commitment and creativity.”

——Istituto Nostra Signora Pescara/STEM@IT

Want to know more? Watch the Sharing Session on the Awarding Ceremony of 2020 MakeX Spark Housework Helper!

Thanks for all your sharing and good luck going forward! Hope to see your great achievements again in MakeX Spark 2021 Season!

January 21, 2021

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