We are proposing a project that builds a “makerspace” in Siem Reap, where creators and innovators of all ages and skill levels can create their products, and a community around it. The project is a Kickstart project, currently under review.
Creators and innovative people needs assistance
Artisan Angkor is one of the popular tourist destination in Siem Reap. Local craft artists learn Khmer Arts, create arts and products to revive traditional arts, and innovate. There are many other artists, and their products are sold in various markets and shops. They are very traditional, and tourists love the products. Some might think that handcrafts, oil paintings, and traditional arts in general, have nothing to do with technologies. Recent researches on the subjects found that they complement each other. Modern technologies in arts are not all about Computer Graphics, or special effects in films. Artists raise funds, or sell their works on digital platforms, e.g. Kickstarter, a platform for creators to fund, has numerous projects in Art category. In addition to SNS, these platforms are helping artists to bring more audiences to their works. Incorporating technologies in works has other possibilities. Open and affordable technologies make the works “smarter”, more interactive, or simply more interesting. An MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried, founded Adafruit, in 2005 “to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels”. The “Wearables” section are full of the examples. Histories tells us that technology is not an antonym of tradition, but the tradition is the product of technologies.
After the pandemic, local businesses in Siem Reap are suffering the impact to the economy. Some businesses stopped operations, and lucky ones are waiting for buyers of the business. Even if the government opens boarders and airports, which is not likely to happen in the near future, the tourism would be restricted by external factors, i.e. policies of other countries. Some are trying to stay afloat by saving fixed costs. Many hotels and restaurants closed as a result. However, there are a few exceptions. They try to run business by adapting themselves, e.g. developing new products, and selling them online. In crisis, people become creative. We have seen many examples of various attempts to overcome the crisis in the world. However, such brave business owners are not familiar to modern technologies required to realize their ideas.
Limited access to modern technologies
In Cambodia, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people is 119 (World Bank). The total number of Internet users is 9.7 million (58%), and the total number of active social media users is also 9.7 million (Digital 2020 Cambodia by Hootsuite). It seems that Information Technology has successfully penetrated the country. However, the number of fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people is 1, which means most of Internet users use smartphones as a device to access the Internet. There is no reliable source of the number of computer users, different (unverified) sources say it is between 10% and 20% in Phenom Pen, nearly zero in rural provinces. Smartphones and tablets are designed for mobility; a quick access to information and communication, not for creative works. They are designed for information consumers, not creators. Any serious work requires better human interface devices than touch screen.
English proficiency index of the country is 94 of 100 countries and regions. In Siem Reap, however, foreigners find surprisingly high number of people, including workers, officials, and even mom-and-pop store owners, speak fluent, understandable English thanks to tourism. The primary motivation and incentive to learn the language is obviously better job opportunities and salary as a result. While English proficiency is a must-have in many industries, it is not sufficient to succeed. In addition to English proficiency, you need advanced, outstanding skills in the job market. These days, especially after the pandemic, people go online for everything. Knowledge and literacy of IT is the requirement in modern industries. IT skill is not about how to use Word or Excel. It is a mix of traditional skills and modern technologies. Even in tourism, you need to manage online sales channels, accept online bookings and payments, and effectively allocate resources with IT. However, institutions of higher education do not have resources, or equipment for modern technologies. The teaching methodology is very “traditional”; teachers transfer knowledge first, students apply the knowledge to problems, i.e. passive learning. Passive learning still has its use, but not the only educational technique. Students need knowledge and skills to be innovative, creative problem-solvers by actively finding right problems, being engaged in solving problems, learning new skills to solve the problems, and evaluating their solutions for improvements.
Lack of safety awareness
Unlike teaching programmings, experiments with physical materials always involve physical risks. Teachers and parents do not want to expose kids to physical risks. However, safety is the last thing to implement in the country. 97.6% of households have access to electricity, but the safety is often neglected. For example, grounding, an essential safety measure in electrical applications, is often omitted. Electronic shower heater is popular in the region, but very few installation have ground line, exposing users to lethal risks, such as electronic shocks and fires. Safety consideration in work environments is very poor. Many construction workers, electricians, and carpenters work without personal protective equipment. Locals learn how to avoid risks by experiences at the cost of lives.
We will create a space for students, expats, and business owners, where they can learn, experiment, and explore modern technologies. Such spaces are commonly called “makerspace”. A makerspace is:
- A space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity
- A place where people can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover
- A unique learning environment that encourages tinkering, play and open-ended exploration for all
A makerspace usually provide 3D printers, but not necessarily. Some are designed for specific projects, such as making cosplay costumes, handcrafts, wood crafts, or electronic devices.
We also help participants to learn technologies, operate tools and machines safely, and assist their projects.
We provide free courses to local Cambodians, including adults, and students while we happily accept regular fee from those who can afford it.
Makers locates at Street 20, Wat Bo, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
We monitor and evaluate the project performance by activity-level indicators of direct beneficiaries.
On the other hand, we cannot measure how indirect beneficiaries benefit from the project. We will collect their feedbacks as indirect proofs of the project performance as part of Monitoring and Evaluation.
- Students, kids, expats, and local business owners who participate in courses we provide
- Teachers who teach creativity to students and kids in classroom programs
- Local business owners who want to create unique products
- Artists and creators who want to improve their products with technologies
- Employees of local business owners
- Parents of students and kids
Building a community to encourage people to innovate, solve problems, and help themselves by learning.
Objectives and Activities
In this section, we will describe what the project will achieve and how the project achieve it. Each subsection includes Objectives, Activities, Outputs, Outcomes and KPIs. Their definitions are:
- What the project will achieve
- How the project will achieve the Objectives
- The direct result of the Activities
- The difference made by the Outputs
- KPIs, or Key Performance Indicator
- The indicators to measure the performance of the Activities
Develop wood craft products with project members at the makerspace
Demonstrate what direct and indirect beneficiaries can benefit from the makerspace by producing wood handcraft products for one of project members, increase the understanding of Makerspace and Maker movement, so that the project gets more traction, and create Maker community in Siem Reap.
Create a lab space for small-sized wood crafting. Develop wood craft products with the project members. Adopt a standard product development cycles during the development. Deliver the products on online markets to consumers. Record the development process as a future reference and an example.
- Developed products
- Product pages, including order form
- An established process to accept orders, manage stocks, and ship products
Potential direct and indirect beneficiaries will be able to:
- Understand what the makerspace is
- Understand what kind of products they can develop at the Makers
- The number of resolved Issues in GitHub Projects
- The number of achieved Milestones in GitHub Projects
Provide micro:bit classroom programs for teachers and kids
Develop and provide classroom programs for teachers and kids so that teachers can teach modern Design Thinking to kids in a classroom.
The programs will use BBC micro:bit because:
- ready-to-use educational programs are provided
- micro:bit is readily available from a trusted distributor to the country
- micro:bit does not require additional components or equipment, other than laptops
- its broader user base helps teachers to find answers on the Internet
micro:bit (Wikipedia) , originally developed by BBC, supported by Microsoft, as part of BBC’s educational campaign, has been widely accepted in educational institutions in the world. Unlike other technologies commonly found in makerspaces, the device requires little initial investment. It is a self-contained device with motion sensors, an LED matrix display, push buttons, a digital compass, a light sensor, a Bluetooth chip to send data over air, and many pins for input and output. The device can be powered by USB or batteries as wearable products. Educators can teach many topics just using the device only.
Develop an educational program with BBC micro:bit for kids. Teach teachers about Design Thinking through the educational program. Assist teachers to understand micro:bit with guidance. Provide necessary tools, equipment, and space for the class. Help them design their own educational programs.
- Classroom programs for kids
- Procedures documents for teachers
Kids can develop their creativity with modern technologies.
Teachers can acquire another tool that can be used in very innovative ways to inspire and educate children.
Their parents can give opportunity to learn technological proficiency and traditional skills, such as problem solving, creativity and teamwork.
- The number of hours for teachers without prior knowledge to start a classroom
- Cumulative number of participant hour, and the number of participants
Providing training courses
We will implement training courses for locals, expats, and business owners to start their projects.
Provide a space for locals, expats, and business owners, where participants learn, apply, and experiment modern technologies, such as CAD, electronics, and IoT (Internet of Things). Improve understanding of safety.
Develop courses and text materials for the courses. Stock necessary materials, such as soldering irons, breadboards, power supply, personal protective equipment, and wires. Purchase laptops and external monitors (for at least five participants in a class). Install ground lines at the work space for safety. Provide free courses for locals, including students.
- Blink: the very first programming and experiment of IoT
- 3D CAD Basic: design basic 3D objects with 3D CAD application
- 3D Printing Basic: print 3D objects from
- Soldering: solder passive components, sockets, and pins on PCB
- Oscilloscope: visualize electronic signals to debug electronic circuits
Topics in each course include:
- Possible risks and safety practices
- Problems to solve
- Developed courses
- Establish a system to accept enrollments, manage memberships, and evaluate performance of participants
Participants will be able to:
- Safely use tools, equipment, and machines at the makerspace
- Develop and experiment example projects and tutorials publicly available on the Internet
- Understand the importance of safety
Monitoring and Evaluation
We will monitor and evaluate the project performance at certain intervals. As the project engage in the Activities, its progresses and details of the activities will be published on the project’s website. The final evaluations will be published by 2020/12.
Every end of month,
- Defined KPIs are measured and reported to project members
- The Outputs from the Activities are summarised and publish on Makers’ website
- Feedbacks from direct and indirect beneficiaries are examined for possible improvements in projects by the project members in a meeting
In addition to regular Monitoring, feedbacks from direct and indirect beneficiaries on the subjects they participate are collected after any significant performance event, such as workshops, launching new courses, and the end of a lesson for kids. The result will be published on Makers’ website.
By the end of 2020/12, Project Review will be conducted. The attendees includes:
- Project members
- Pro memberships holders
- Teachers who participated in the project
In the Project Review,
- The status of all Activities are summarised
- Outputs, feedbacks and the achieved KPIs are reported to the attendees
- The performance of the project is evaluated by the achieved KPIs and feedbacks from direct and indirect beneficiaries
- The attendees review the performance of the project and give feedbacks to the project
- The project lead makes decisions related to continual improvement opportunities
As an output of the Project Review, Project Review report will be created and published on the Project website, which includes the summary of the Project Review, the decisions related to continual improvement opportunities, and changes to the project.