It has been a year since my collaboration began with the Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia in Bandung, Indonesia around the use of Maker Motes. I take this opportunity to describe highlights of our journey. We worked with teachers from five middle schools in the Bandung / Lembang area in Java, Indonesia. Professional development workshops began in August, and covered topics such as ‘introducing the Maker Motes to teachers’, ‘integrating Maker Motes in to the school curriculum’, and ‘developing lesson plans’. In total, seven such workshops were conducted, primarily because teacher-reflection was seen as critical to their understanding of the affordances of the open-source environmental sensors with respect to their science curriculum. The teachers adopted a Lesson Study approach, as this was a strategy they were already familiar with. As it turned out, the continual opportunities for sharing and reflection among schools in the local area was a critical factor to confidence-building and diffusion of the innovation.
As is so often the case, the teachers were able to come up with a diversity of exceptional lesson ideas. Thus, for example, lesson ideas were developed for topics such as ‘adaptation’, ‘characteristics of living things’, scientific objects and observation’, ‘changes of matter’, and ‘photosynthesis’. The lessons were implemented in September, and so far, two cycles of Lesson Study have been enacted. An example of one such lesson was when students – in their groups – were given a Maker Mote and assigned one of four outdoor locations within the school’s premises. Following the premises of scientific inquiry, they hypothesised the possible relationships between the microclimate at different parts of the school, vis-a-vis the local adaptation and zonation of the naturally emergent flora. Another great example of a lesson designed by the teachers was posed around the question of “how to make the cricket sing?” In this lesson, students worked in their groups to test their hypotheses about which environmental factors encouraged crickets to sing. Some of the variables they considered were sound, ambient light, and temperature.
What was also inspiring was that the structure of the Maker Motes as used in the schools in Indonesia, was different from how we conceptualised them for use in Singapore. The Indonesian motes were iterated to be robust with respect to irregular network connectivity, and had solar-arrays attached to them. Here is a perspective of one of the Indonesian school student on the learning journey so far :
“It was the first days of our science lessons in the school. We were surprised as our science teacher came into the class and showed us plastics boxes that look like bombs. The class were excited and curious with the boxes. We wanted to try straight away the equipment when our teacher explained that the boxes were weather sensors and that they could record the weather and send the data to the internet. We know we have wi-fi in our school but this one is different. “It is a cool box, it generates wi-fi”.
“We were busy working in our groups designing and making a cage for our cricket. We have a lot of fun during the lessons and we cannot wait to see how the cage and sensors work. We were amaze when we know that the sensors can record the sound of our cricket and send it right away to our mobile phone”
“Keren, tinggal masukkan PIN dan bunyi suara jangkrik langsung terekam. Kita bisa tahu berapa frequensinya. Kita tidak perlu ada di situ mencatatnya, bisa tercatat sendiri oleh alat dan besok tinggal membuka di website”.
[Cool, we just need to enter the PIN and the sound of our cricket was automatically recorded. We can know the volume of the sound. We do not need to be there to record the data, the equipment recorded them all and the next morning we just need to open the website and they are all there]
“There were a lot of data recorded in the website. Many of us were not interested in the data except the volume of the sound produces by our cricket. We know that at night our cricket produces high volume sound. When our teachers asked the class to analyse the data, we were actually busy talking about the equipment and what we can do with it.
“Bisa digunakan untuk mengetahui cuaca. Jadi kalau hari ini kita akan pergi ke luar, misalnya mau piknik kita bisa menggunakannya untuk mengetahui apakah hari ini akan hujan ataukah tidak. Jadi kita bisa memperkirakan cuaca”
[It can be used to see the weather. So if today we want to go out, like going for picnic, we can use the sensors to know if today is going to rain or not. So we can predict the weather]
“Buat menentukan suhu yang tepat untuk tanaman. Kan untuk menanam tanaman kita harus tahu suhunya”
[We can use it to know the best temperature for a plant. To grow plants we will need the best temperature for the plants].”
All in all, the past year has been an exciting learning experience for my team and I(we) really look forward to our continued collaboration with the teachers, the schools, and the faculty.
Dr Kenneth Lim is a Research Scientist at the National Institute of Education, Singapore.(Please note that versions of this piece and more of Dr Kenneth Lim’s blogs are available here http://voyager.blogs.com/voyeurism/school_life/)
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