Day 7 - Let the battle begin!

Valerie will be here for the rest of the week. Being a Penang-Lang, she brought us to some of the popular spots to munch on some delicious local cuisine. The team ordered dishes ranging from Roti Canai to the signature Nasi Lemak.

After filling up, we headed off via ferry to the school on mainland Penang. The journey was ridiculously scenic with the Penang waves crashing gently against the rusty ferry, darting through the water. As we arrived we realized that there was an issue with the navigation as it had confused the school with another similar sounding school. We arrived hastily at the correct school and setup the workshop as usual without letting the time pressure impact our performance. The teacher sat in on the workshop to expose herself to the world of programming as well. As the lesson started the kids began to explore the possibilities of the Mbots, some having never touched such a thing before. They inspected it with a deep sense of curiosity and once they were comfortable with the software they were able to make the Mbots bump into their fellow classmates at will.

The whole team worked double time as it was a larger class at a younger age group, with that came a lot of noise and energy but we handled it well. The class had plenty of time to experiment and learn through play, which then led to the eventual competition. The kids were excited about the inclusion of balloons and satay sticks for the Mbot battles, and came up with ideas never seen before like breaking the sticks in half to form more possible weapons for their robots. The competition ended with a clear victor and we wrapped up the class with a short speech by the leader of the workshop Hafiz.

The icing on the cake is that we also received encouraging feedback from the school. A timely reminder on why we embark on doing this in the first place 😃

Footnote: This will be my final post as I have only joined the Maker Mobile team up until Penang. I have taken away valuable lessons that I may have otherwise never learnt, seen sights and met the students of Malaysia that I may have otherwise never met and have came out richer with experience and insight. The ''rural'' Malaysian schools are as well equipped as any school in the country. The students are also not to be underestimated as with their isolation from the modern world of skyscrapers and technology comes a fresh pair of eyes that we have yet to see through.

My key take away is that the education system of this nation lacks the crucial allocation of time and resources to help the students of tomorrow to think for themselves. Too often do great minds become dormant due to a mundane syllabus and the dogmatic following of a textbook. The students (I feel) need to be exposed to ungoverned exploration time. The lack of time to play in the metaphorical sandbox has shaven down the natural inquisitive and curious mind of a child, causing our Malaysian population to be limited to calculation and textbook subjects such as the Sciences and Mathematics.

Though there is nothing wrong with this, the cap that is set on the students would have to be the strict and stringent curriculum that they must follow. If a student falls out of the mold, he/she is said to be a failure, which in my eyes is a fairly hostile culture. Exploration and experimentation should be encouraged, and failure is bound to strike, but as our boss / mentor Mr. Choo says: "With failure comes success". This new culture of learning through experimenting and the sandbox mentality is both exciting and encouraging to the youth  as we are slowly rising from the ways of the old where a ''stupid question'' would be seen to disrupt the class. Rather the culture that Malaysia could be headed is potentially a more promising direction, where questions can be freely asked and answered, where kids will not fear exploration but run towards it, potentially cultivating a whole new generation of makers that are well and truly, Malaysian.


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