Opening Remarks by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at The Maker Faire, on 11 July 2015, 11:30am, at 15 Tampines Street 11

Published Date: 11 July 2015 12:00 AM

News Speeches

A/Prof Lim Tit Meng,
Chief Executive, Science Centre Singapore

Mr Dale Dougherty,
CEO and Founder, Maker Media

Mr Prakash Mallya,
Managing Director, Intel

Ms Jacqueline Poh,
Managing Director, IDA

Makers

Ladies and Gentleman

Introduction

1.A very good morning to all of you. To our muslim friends, Selamat Berpuasa. I am excited to be with all of you at the Maker Faire. I would like to acknowledge Mr Dale Dougherty, who is with us today, for catalysing this Maker Movement in 2005. In Singapore, the Maker Faire started off in 2012 as a Mini Maker Faire, with around 20 booths. This year, I understand that we are hosting the first featured Maker Faire in Singapore with over 250 booths.

2.Joining you today and looking at the video reminds me of a funny story. We see photos of some the residents of Tampines, and one of them was at the Edusave awards event. There were many interesting things to do in this makerspace, like make LED decorations, and play with a 3D printer. The organisers set up the makerspace for students to tinker with in between the proceedings for collecting their awards. Guess what happened? Some students got so caught up in the makerspace that they forgot to collect their awards! At the end of the day, when the ceremony was over and the organisers were packing up, they ran up to the organisers and said, “Sorry! I got so caught up making things that I forgot to come and collect my award.” So the event that they came for, they forgot, as they have been too immersed and engaged. And it’s not just the students. Their parents and grandparents too were engrossed in the makerspace. You almost could not drag them away.

3.It is a joy to see curious minds so fully engaged and inspired in the process of making, tinkering, inventing and learning. This is why I am happy to join you to celebrate the independence, creativity and resourcefulness of all makers.

4.What does it mean to be a maker? Here are a few things I have learnt about making - Making is not about materials or things, it is about the spirit to overcome challenges, to innovate; Making is something our students are all doing in school; Making is for everyone; and Making is the most rewarding when we do it together.

5.First, making is about spirit. You have heard of the can-do spirit. Making draws on a similar thing - the can-make spirit. If there is a problem, you can make the solution. And doing so grows your spirit as well. To be a good maker, first you identify a problem you want to solve. Then you embark on a journey of discovery - you discover more about the problem and how it affects people, and you discover ways you can address this problem. Basically, you learn. You also discover a lot about yourself too along the way, because there may be times when you get stuck. That’s when you discover your own determination and resilience. And, of course, you have fun and grow in the process.

6.Second, our students are all young makers. They have been growing this can-make spirit in school - through their applied learning programmes. I am glad that more schools are participating in the Maker Faire. Through making, students do not only apply their knowledge to solve given scenarios, but take it one step higher to create something novel. Students thus learn in a very practical manner the possibilities of their imagination. I am happy that at this year’s Faire, many students are showcasing their impressive range of creations from toys and mobile applications, to 3D-printed products. Kudos also to their teachers for guiding their students in their making journey!

7.Third, making is for everyone. All of us, young and old, can be makers, and we can continue to learn and apply what we learn, in school, at home, in our community, anywhere. So I’m glad to know that this year, our youngest exhibitors for the Maker Faire are 6 and 8 years old. Sophia and Anjali Curic - are you somewhere here in the audience? They made a pottery wheel using an old bicycle and a broken fan, and made electronic fencing jackets and cardboard swords for swordfighting. They learnt that ideas are nothing without action. Anjali spent five minutes thinking about ideas, but took weeks to make her ideas into reality. So well done!

8.I like seeing families go on the making journey together. And I see many families here together. This year, we are launching the book “Busy Hands, Happy Hearts - Stories of Families who Make and Tinker together”. I hope you will be inspired by these Singapore families and their making adventures.

9.Finally, making is at its best when we make together. I may be good at dreaming up ideas, but not so good at putting the invention together. But you can do what I can’t, and when you chip in with your perspective, you make my ideas even better. That is the beauty of making together. This is true whether we are talking about the playground or the school science lab or the innovation centre of a top R&D facility. The more we bring different perspectives together, the richer will be the making process. Maker Faire is probably the only festival in Singapore where Science, Tech, Arts and Crafts are brought together, with clay and paper crafters right next to people who work on robotics and other high-level technology. And I see Lai Hock in the audience as well. Lai Hock has started Ground Up Initiative, and there are a lot of interesting things that he is making. There is huge potential for collaborative learning and innovation amongst people with different expertise to create better, more innovative creations. And I am happy to see that this maker faire has also attracted people from different parts of the world, different parts of asia, to be here with us today. For instance, a group from Nanyang Technological University called Kinexcs developed a glove that, when you put it on, can check how your wrist and elbow are doing after an injury. Kinexcs is a group made up of researchers, tinkerers, and hackers - different skills, different expertise, and they come together to make useful inventions that help others. As we make together, we share our knowledge, learn new skills together, build collective wisdom, and build a sense of community. We don’t just make a new invention - we make memories and friendships too. I hope that we will see more platforms and shared spaces for all of us to learn and make together.

Conclusion

10.Thank you to our organisers, sponsors and community partners for bringing this unique event to Singapore, and for championing the Maker movement in Singapore. And I am happy that Dale, the pioneer of this maker movement, is with us today. To all makers, I hope you have fun over the next two days learning from one another, and I encourage you to spread this love for tinkering and innovation to all around you. Thank you.

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