Thursday, April 17, 2014

gung ho developments at the SHENZHEN MAKER FAIRE 2014

Last year we launched the GUNG HO Vs ZOMBIES story kit, with a thrilling story, DIY electronics learning toy, online store with, and a fun demo session at Hackidemia.

If you were at the Maker Faire in Shenzhen, China earlier this month, you'd have heard the latest update about this from our education collaborator William Hooi: he's turning the whole project into a full scale maker learning programme called GUNG HO KIDS.

I know your head is probably bursting with a kerzillion questions. Why is he doing this? How will our zombie story help kids get smarter and more creative? How can you join in the fun and learn to be a gung ho maker yourself? And so on.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: view his slides above, watch the video of his presentation below, and read our quick interview with the man himself. There is a new kingdom rising, where young makers and hackers create the dreams of tomorrow. Join us and let your GUNG HO shine!


Tell us more about the event!
I was away in Shenzhen for their Maker Faire, a 2-day family-friendly carnival where everyone who's into DIY projects can showcase the stuff they made. It is the largest Faire so far for Shenzhen, with close to maybe 20,000 people attending. Concurrently, they also organised special interest forums like Makers in Business, Makers in Education, etc. The organiser for the Makers in Education forum was looking to invite speakers from different parts of the world who are involved in education and the makers movement, and so they contacted me. The moderator of the forum, David Li (a famous hacker from the Xinchejian hackerspace in Shanghai), happens to be a friend too.

How did your GUNG HO KIDS presentation go?
I was given 10 minutes to speak, and I decided to talk about my experience working in the Singapore Science Centre and how I was involved with Hackidemia. In both cases I kept facing the same challenge: What happens to the kids after the workshops are over? There needs to be some form of follow-up or continuity to their learning process. So I shared my proposal for a GUNG HO KIDS platform.

How do you hope to develop GUNG HO KIDS?
This is meant to be an initiative to help children with art, science & technology. It is designed to be an open-source platform where kids can be actively involved in the process of creating their own stories, crafts and knowledge. I'm hoping to take the hacker/maker culture and integrate this with Japanese pseudoscience-pseudoengineering entertainment. I'm in the process of discussing this with several partners in the play & tech sector, to see if this can add value to their existing programmes. We will officially launch this in June, in time for the school holidays.

What was the response from the other makers?
For a few minutes, I felt like a superstar being mobbed! There was a lot of interest from parents and teachers to reporters. Many have indicated their interest to collaborate on this project, so I think we have something good here.

Any inspiring people or projects you encountered there?
It was simply amazing. While I've heard a lot about Shenzhen, it was actually my first time being there. I met many awesome hackers/makers and learnt about their ideas and projects. I'm most inspired by the Kharkana guys. They are a group of 3 engineers who want to transform Nepal into a prominent maker capital of the world by channelling their energies to educate their kids. They will be visiting Singapore too, and so I'm working to organize a workshop with them.

You can contact William through his Gung Ho Guild website.