Sia (last row, left) with students during the workshop.

SARIKEI: A total of 25 students participated in two school holiday programmes — Youth Maker’s Hack and Robotics Workshop: Youth Edition — last weekend (Dec 7 and 8).

Both programmes were organised by Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), Sarikei Innovation Centre (SiC) and powered by iCube Innovation (iCube).

The programmes were conducted by Chumbaka Sarikei trainer Sia How Kee (Maker’s Hack) and Edu Team of rero:micro (Robotics).

iCube chairman Datuk Patrick Liew stated that throughout the maker’s hack workshop, students will learn the core concepts in programming using mBlock and a microchip called Arduino.

While on the robotics workshop, they are able to learn simple coding that will be able to control some robotics functions.

“Coding is becoming an essential basic skill — just like reading, writing, and mathematics — for a student to thrive in the 21st century digital age.

“It can help them pursue their interests and open up countless opportunities in their future.

“Coding is essentially written instructions that a robot or computer programme can read and then execute,” he said.

Liew noted that for maker’s hack programme, trainers will be introducing the concept of design thinking and human-centric technology.

That being said, students will learn to empathise with a real-life problem and design their solutions based on the issue.

Sia (last row, left) with students during the workshop.

“Apart from that, physical computing involves building interactive physical systems with the use of software and hardware that can sense and respond to the world around us.

“Students learn about coding and embedded system by completing a series of projects that expose them to various science phenomena such as the science of colour, electrical conductivity, human heartbeat and lever system.

“Whereas in robotics, it allows students to see their thinking in a real way as they go through trial and error until the task is accomplished and the robot’s motions performed as originally intended,” he said.

Liew further explained that the students experimented with various sensors (ultrasonic, tilt and LDR) and actuators (servo motor, speaker and LED).

The embedded system used is Arduino and the programming language is mBlock, a variant of Scratch.

“Apart from building the Internet of Things (IoT), everyone now spends more time online than with any other media, and much of that time is spent on mobile apps.

“Mobile apps are computer programs designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

“Mobile devices come with a wide range of sensors, such as GPS, touch screen, accelerometer, and camera, enabling students to apply computer programming to access these sensors and in turn design creative and useful applications,” he said.

In the robotics workshop, programming and coding robots for youth can benefit them in seven areas — creativity, computational thinking, collaboration, communication, persistence, understanding, and logic.

Sia How Kee who is also a teacher in SMK Bandar Sarikei said, “Along with the rise of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), our young generation needs to engage with electronics and powerful coding. Chumbaka is a good platform for them to start up the spark of learning these soft skills.

“At the end of the day, this programme improves their critical thinking and teaches design thinking which are what we want to emphasise on.”

Kolej Laila Taib lecturer Hii Ing Hui stated that students can boost logical thinking by joining robotics classes like this.

“Makecode software is suitable for beginners to start learning to code easily without the need to know the complex syntax of programming language.

“rero:micro with micro:bit is a good hardware platform for beginners to start the adventure into robotics field. Students were exposed to something new which they don’t learn in the normal classroom,” he said.