More than 400 innovative creations were displayed at Maker Faire Singapore, as part of the Singapore Maker Extravaganze. (Photo credit: Science Centre Singapore)
By Jennifer Dhanaraj
Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast earlier this year left many fans mesmerised. One such fan is Nurain Putri Azman, 17, who left the cinema determined to recreate the movie’s enchanted rose.
Fast-forward three months and Nurain and her teammates were showing off a replica of the rose at Maker Faire Singapore, which was part of the inaugural Singapore Maker Extravaganza held from 20-23 July at Science Centre Singapore.
“We recreated the rose using LED lights,” said Nurain. “We took almost two months to figure out the coding behind the LED lighting. After some trial and error, we managed to do it. We took another two weeks to assemble the replica.” The rose can be turned on with a mobile app, and generates various colours, such as red and aqua blue.
The invention was just one of more than 400 products on display at the Faire, which was launched by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, on 22 July. Besides Maker Faire, the Singapore Maker Extravaganza included a Maker Conference and Maker Summit.
Dr Vivian stressed the importance of initiatives like Maker Faire, as it encourages STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) innovation among youths. “We need to make sure everyone of us – especially our kids – have the skills, technology and the tools to make, to create, to synthesise and to open brand new opportunities for jobs and skills of the future.”
Visitors were treated to hands-on activities, complimentary workshops and the chance to interact with innovative products. The event also inspired some like Raynor Kok to become makers themselves.
“I’ve never been to an event like this, where I get to see so many inventions,” said Raynor, 11, who was accompanied by his mother and younger brother. “I now want to go home and start coming up with ideas to create something cool but also useful for people.”
Mdm Hema Rama Samy was at Maker Faire to support her son, whose invention – a lightsaber replica her son and his friends had made – was displayed at one of the booths. “I’m really impressed by how he has developed his interest and applied the skills he learnt in school to create something so interesting,” she said. “Now my younger son, too, wants to become a maker!” she added.
Another team of Pei Hwa Secondary School children created a solution to the problem of inefficient food ordering, which is faced by many hospice care centres in Singapore. Megane Wong, Rielle San Pedro and Summer Tan, all aged 13, came together to come up with Foodie, a menu-ordering solution for hospice patients.
Megane shared that she had thought of the idea while volunteering at hospice care centres. She noticed food was often delivered late to patients as it took a long time for nurses to manually collate orders. Foodie enables patients to choose what they wish to eat with the press of a button, with orders automatically collated and sent to the kitchen. This sped up orders and reduced the workload on nurses as well.
Their teacher, Mr Joel Neo, said the coding and robotics classes provided at their school equipped the girls with the skills and knowledge to build the prototype app. He also credited IMDA’s PIXEL Labs and Digital Maker Programme for providing some of the material needed such as the micro:bit, a tiny programmable computer, for the project.
As for Megane, Rielle and Summer, they are confident that their product will significantly improve efficiency levels at hospice care centres. “Now we’re looking at what other kinds of problems are out there and how we can come up with solutions to solve them. We want to make people’s lives better with technology,” Megane explained.
The Singapore Maker Extravaganza is testament to the growing maker movement in Singapore. It also aims to spark discussion on topics like technology, education and entrepreneurship, noted Dr Vivian.
He added that various fields, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics, are all building on and amplifying one another. “This technological revolution will bring about great impact in socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic development in Singapore,” he said.
He also stressed that an open mindset is necessary to benefit from this revolution. “We need a culture of openness and learning; a culture where we are prepared to invest in infrastructure and education, and where we are prepared to leapfrog rules and standards to take advantage of technological advances.”