National Fab Student Challenge: a build-up programme for upcoming Fab23 Bhutan

The Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck Super Fab Lab is preparing to host the 19th edition of the largest and most strategic global digital fabrication event in the country. In preparation for this event, the super fab lab in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development has rolled out the National Fab Student Challenge as a build-up programme. The challenge has selected the top 12 teams from across the country who will come up with different and unique prototypes revolving around the theme of Curriculum through Fabrication. And as the teams continue working in the nearest Fab Labs, let us walk through their work.

More than 400 teachers were trained for the National Fab Student Challenge in April this year. The teachers were oriented to generate awareness around digital fabrication and the potential of including technology in education.

The challenge received more than 100 proposals from 52 schools across the country. However, 12 best teams were selected and they travelled to the nearest Fab Labs to develop a prototype of their ideas.

After working for almost a week in the Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck Super Fab Lab in the capital, a team from Lungtenphu Middle Secondary School has come up with a prototype of a 3D model of a heart.

The team consisting of four members along with their mentor believes that their prototype can ease the teaching-learning process for both students and teachers.

“Our idea is mainly about blood circulation, which blood circulation is a very hard topic for students to comprehend. When we create this kind of prototype, it would be easier for the younger students to understand the heart and it would be easier for the teachers to teach about the concept of blood circulation,” said Sonam Chophel, a participant from Lungtenphu Middle Secondary School.

Similarly, a team from Daga Central School is fabricating atomic models to visualise the atomic structure at the Jigme Wangchuck Power Training Institute in Sarpang.

“The idea originated when I was teaching class 11 on atomic models and atomic theories. When I was teaching them, the students were facing difficulty understanding them, saying that the ideas were abstract. Then I thought maybe I should come up with better ideas to teach them. I thought that making the atomic models so that they can see and feel it could make them understand it easier,” said Yonten Chophel, a mentor, at Daga Central School.

Likewise, one of the teams working at the Royal Academy Fab Lab in Paro is working on a prototype that will help in the calculation of time.

“As we go to higher classes, there are new concepts of time calculation. And students do not understand the concept of time calculation when the concept emerges out of nowhere. Even it was difficult for me to grasp the concept before and it gave me a headache. However, I could understand better when learned the concept by drawing. Hence, if we can understand it better with diagrams, students can understand way better with physical models,” said Sonam Choden, a participant from the Royal Academy.

Furthermore, other selected schools are working on various prototypes to make learning better and more interesting.

The participants from twelve schools will demonstrate their final products at the clock tower in Thimphu on the 23rd of this month.

Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck Super Fab Lab will host FAB23 Bhutan, the 19th edition of the largest digital fabrication international event in collaboration with the Fab Foundation, the Centre for Bits & Atoms and the Fab City Foundation in the country from the 16th of this month.

The event will bring together inventors, artists, researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs and creative people in one global forum to connect and collaborate using technology.

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