“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use it to change the world”, quipped Nelson Mandela. This quote was the source of inspiration behind the initiation of IEEE’s Donation Drive for the Free Education Workshop for Orphans.
I still remember, during the vacation following the first semester of my university life, I was appointed to take charge of the “One Semester One Event”. Basically, it is one of the job scopes of Team X which requires us to hold an impactful event every semester. When I was appointed as the person in charge, the first two words that came across my mind are “SCIENCE, EDUCATION”.
Since the past few decades, science and technology have played an important role in thrusting the world forward and building a better lifestyle for mankind. Thus, having more talented scientists and engineers are crucial in continuing this trend for a better tomorrow for mankind.
However, in Malaysia, the number of future scientists and engineers might not fulfill the demand of society as number of students enrolled in STEM courses after PT3 are dwindling year by year.
This scenario is distressing and might be due to the wrong approach used by schools in teaching science. Over obsession with As makes students study science subjects by just memorizing facts and this makes science so monotonous for many youngsters.
Thus, this event is carried out with the objective to not just spur the interest of learning science and technology among the new generation, but also to guide them towards a more fascinating method of learning. This event was conducted in two stages. The first stage was to raise funds in USM Engineering Campus while the second was to conduct a free workshop in an orphanage.
Personally, the hardest portion of this event was the first stage, fundraising. As everyone knows, most undergraduates depend on loan to sustain their living expenses. Thus, it is really a challenge for me and my team to raise sufficient funds for this event. However, we tried as many ways as possible to acquire the funds. First is by positioning donation boxes at offices of all schools in USM Engineering Campus. Second is by doing lecture bash and third is by spreading news via Facebook.
As you might expect, lecture bash is the best approach to get the most amount of fund and yes, you indeed need a “thick face” for this. Before doing the lecture bash, I was distressed for a few days thinking “What if people behind cannot hear me?”, “What if the microphone suddenly malfunction? I have to shout if this is the case.” and so on. However, on that day, I suddenly felt relaxed after I spoke the first sentence. Then I just kept promoting the event and persuaded people to donate. It’s true that for anything when there is no pain, there is no gain. If I was not able to overcome my fear to speak in front of public, there may be others who can do it for me. But I will never feel as accomplished if I did not try to do on my own.
As a result of all the endeavors embarked by me and my team, we raised enough money to conduct one workshop. Also, we would like to thank the sponsor from IEEE CAS (Circuit and System) Malaysia Chapter to make this event even greater.
The workshop was held two weeks after the fundraising. Orphanage chosen for this workshop was Rumah Permata Kasih which is located at Prai, Penang. Thirteen IEEE USM SB members, including me had joined this workshop as facilitators while there were twenty orphans age between 8 to 9 years old as participants. The workshop was being conducted in two parts, one was basic electronic and the other was basic science.
During the basic electronic part, participants were first being briefed about the evolution of electronic, for example the size of modern electronic gadgets is becoming smaller compared to the traditional gadgets, by Atikah Hayroman, who is the assistant leader for this event.
Then, participants were provided basic electronic components like breadboard, LEDs, battery, resistors and so on. With these components, participants were being taught about the basic concept of current flow by using water flow analogy.
At the same time, they were also guided by facilitators on how to assemble a simple circuit which lights an LED up. Look at how patience our facilitators are. Other than just building a simple circuit, participants were also taught about the effects of increasing load or resistance to the circuit and assemble them one by one. After the hands-on, components were given to them as souvenirs and further circuit study. Who knows maybe the next Nikola Tesla was among them?
During the basic science part, up to seven interesting experiments had been carried out. They were Colour Changing Milk, Anti-Gravity Water, Reverse Arrow Illusion, Hologram Projector, Density Tower, Kaleidoscope and Fire on Hand (just demonstration). Each of these experiments has some basic science concept behind. Can’t wait to carry out on your own, right?
Participants were segregated into 5 groups. Before every experiment started, participants were briefed about the basic science concept involved in the experiment. For example, when doing the anti-gravity water experiment, the concept of pressure was first explained to participants. After the experiment was carried out by the participants, they were required to explain why the water retained in the cup group by group. By this way, participants learnt how to apply what they have learnt in real life. Of course, there was no punishment for wrong answer, but only rewards for correct or creative explanation.
I still remember that when asked for explanation about why reverse arrow illusion happens, one of them answered that light turn around the glass then only we see them. That was a great one! Even though it was not the correct answer, but his courage to speak out his idea was applaudable.
This was the guy！
Participants engaged a lot in both workshops. I like the moment when they were amazed by the fascinating effect of all the experiments. They were like “Wow, how can this happen?” They kept asking how and why. Of course, they were not given answer immediately but guided by facilitators towards the answer.
Both workshops were conducted full of joy and happiness from facilitators as well as participants. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all facilitators and also my team members who had given full commitment for this event. Without you all, this event will not be a success.
Wrapping things up, I felt really grateful as being an undergraduate, I was not just staying inside my hostel and focusing on my studies, but was also able to serve society. I hope that more undergraduates, regardless of what course they are pursuing, contribute to the society, especially in the education.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jian Wen is the Project Director of IEEE Donation for Free Workshop and one of the members of Team X for term 2016/2017. He is enthusiastic in learning science and technology and always hope that he can inspired more people to fall in love with interesting yet mysterious field.