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Creativity takes deep roots locally —
Intel works with New Taipei City to promote creativity and hands-on practice

Since the Ministry of Education included information technology into K12 education at the end of 2014, computational thinking, application integration, innovative thinking, and problem solving skills have been considered increasingly important. Therefore, the Education Department of New Taipei City Government, supported by Intel Taiwan and the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering of National Taiwan Normal University, has commenced to strengthen students’ computational thinking and develop them into innovative makers by enriching the professional knowledge of their teachers as a start.

For more than one year, the department has been helping grow teachers’ programming associations and introduced Intel’s innovation assessment program for key competencies with the support provided by the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering. This is an attempt to promote a cloud maker classroom program at both regular and vocational senior high schools in New Taipei City, where a maker innovation center at New Taipei Municipal Zhonghe Senior High School has been established and open to make the local teaching environment and relevant resources even more complete. Starting 2016, Intel Edison modules were available to local teachers, with a series of training provided by Prof. Greg Lee from the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering to help local teachers creatively use such modules in teaching. A makerthon also took place to encourage students and teachers develop their problem-solving creativity and strengthen the maker spirit in New Taipei City.

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Teachers strengthen their computational thinking
In mid-March, a workshop of how to use Intel Edison modules started at the maker innovation center, New Taipei Municipal Zhonghe Senior High School. The one-month-and-half workshop was especially designed for local elementary and high school teachers, systematically teaching them how to skillfully use the Intel Edison board while strengthening their computational thinking and teaching momentum. Teachers were encouraged to apply what they learn to designing the didactic units that can help students develop their problem-solving and inventive creativity.

At the beginning, most teachers were unfamiliar with the Intel Edison board, its sensor node, wiring, or driver programming, but their discussion and hands-on practice for six weeks helped almost every one of them make a line following robot and creative music box. Moreover, the workshop inspired teachers to share their teaching resources and ideas with each other. They also continued to discuss their teaching plans and new works on Facebook after class, laying a solid foundation for the forthcoming New Taipei City makerthon and providing them a stronger momentum to stimulate students’ potential of computational thinking and hands-on practice.

Students and teachers benefit from makerthon and hands-on practice
The makerthon in 2016 was an attempt to promote application integration, creative thinking, hands-on practice for problem solving to schools in New Taipei City by encouraging students and teachers to make good use of different media, different domains of knowledge, as well as hardware and software to develop creative solutions to on-campus problems. The makerthon started at the beginning of March and lasted for two and half months; workshop and group sharing activities during the event helped students and teachers make their ideas happen.
On May 26, the finals of the makerthon at New Taipei Municipal Banqiao Senior High School had 31 teams from elementary, junior high, as well as regular and vocational senior high schools demonstrating their works and sharing what they had been through. There was a campus safety robot developed based on the principle of line following robots to warn the schoolchildren running around in corridors. A current collector developed from an abandoned bicycle can observe static electricity generated by friction. Such interesting teaching tools can enhance learning effectiveness significantly. Not all the ideas were timely developed into the works for the finals, but all the students were unanimous that they did enjoy and benefit from putting their heads together and hands-on practice to overcome many difficulties during problem solving.

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