Nov 20, 2016

Experiential Learning Fun for Kids at Happy Sparks


I think we can agree that kids learn more quickly and retain more information when the subject matter relates to them personally. The act of doing makes learning extremely personal. Which is why experiential learning is not only more interesting, but it also engages all of a child’s senses, an important element to retaining knowledge.

Well, that and learning through play too. Because honestly, which child can ever resist a huge bouncy castle?

And that was what Times Experience - the newly formed events and e-commerce subsidiary of Times Publishing Group - set out to do as they launched Happy Sparks, Singapore’s first experiential learning event for kids last weekend.

Targeted at children from 3 to 12 and their parents, the first large-scale experiential edutainment event ran for 4 days at the Singapore Expo Hall and offered plenty of out-of-classroom experiential learning experiences.

What was interesting was the segregation of the event space into various zones, with each zone targeted at a different learning aspect.

Multiple Intelligence Zone 

Presented by UOB and powered by Flying Cape, the the Multiple Intelligence Zone invited kids to participate in a Multiple Intelligence Developmental Assessment Scales (MIDAS) Test developed by Dr. Branton Shearer to identify the child’s SMARTS. The results were then evaluated by the experts from Flying Cape, Singapore’s first comprehensive education booking website that recommends classes based on the eight different smarts, to best nurture the child’s potential.

There was also the Smart Quest Zone where children can enrich their imagination through multimedia interactivity and digital technology powered by Mosh! and witness their colouring and doodling masterpieces come to life. Yes, something that the monkies absolutely loved!

Creative Expression Zone

Partners including Stabilo and National Library Board (NLB), presented highlights that can help
stimulate a child’s creativity. As part of its nationwide Reading Movement, National Library Board brought in a massive pop-up library to Happy Sparks where children can borrow books on the spot.

At the Knowledge Room, Stabilo conducted a ‘Secret Language of Colours’ parent-child colouring and craft workshop, where children created their own art pieces which in turn were used to understand the child’s motivations through colour therapy.

Media Zone

Without a doubt, this has got to be the most fun station of the lot for the monkies!

Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids is a financial literacy programme designed to equip 7 to 12 year olds with the knowledge, tools and practice they need to make informed financial decisions to reach their own personal goals and dreams.

Its storylines have been written around the four key concepts of money: Earn, Save, Spend and Donate. Children mostly only see spend, but it also needs to be understood that Earn, Save, Spend, Donate is a cycle of money and they are choices that have to be made every day, throughout life... which was what the various game stations advocated.

Well, Ale unfortunately chose to spend ALL her earnings in the end so I guess she still has much to learn. LOL.

Science Zone

Appealing to children passionate about science, Smart Science Lab conducted multiple ‘Magical Chemistry’ sessions where kids got to experiment with chemicals to create their own colourful potions.

At the Maker’s Corner, Science Centre Singapore also conducted sessions for children interested in robotics and programming to program their own dancing robot in the ‘Play with KIBO!” workshops. In addition, KidsStop taught kids how to recycle used materials into moving toys in their ‘Toys, Gears and Engineers!’ workshops.

EduTech Zone

With technology being a large part of education, technology partner Samsung showcased their latest gadgets and how their tablets and products can help facilitate learning for the 21st century learner. And this was also where I got to play around with the Samsung Gear 360!

I have to say the Gear 360 has a striking design. Together with its foldable rubber “legs” which serve as a mini tripod or a grip, it looks like a cute ice cream cone. The camera has two lenses with each capturing respective front and rear images, and they are then stitched together.

Personally, I think it is a very fun camera to use and I already foresee it being extremely useful when it comes to taking family portrait shots (together with the entire 360 degrees background) on vacations!

Experience Zone – World of Wonders

Also launched during the event was Brainy Arkies, a novel educational mobile application that is aligned with the latest Ministry of Education, Singapore’s Primary 1 to 4 Mathematics syllabuses.

Developed by Marshall Cavendish Education, the app is designed to help children aged 6 to 10 learn Mathematics while having fun through the different ages, progressing from Stone to Space Age. With 12,000 questions in the database that is mapped to the school curriculum to start with, parents can monitor their child’s progress via a linked account to manage the topics, sub-topics and even the amount of time each child is allowed to play. Parents are able to engage and motivate their children to learn through play and analyse their child’s progress into a report so they can plan for the topics for their child to focus on. They can collect virtual rewards, harvest gold and share their progress with their friends who are also on the mobile application.

Brainy Arkies is now available for download from the App Store or Google Play with a free 14-day trial. After the trial, parents can subscribe to the application starting from S$9.98 for one month to view detailed solutions and reports and have access to parental control.

The Experience Zone also featured World of Wonders a Virtual Reality (VR) activity area, where kids had a go at a VR-adapted version of the Brainy Arkies app. The monkies went on a trail into the Stone Age and watched it come alive on the Samsung VR Gear. In addition, they also tried their hands on putting together a memory puzzle and a 3D version of blocks to form a pyramid.

Of course, having plenty of other fun activities like giant building blocks made out of foam and jumping on a bouncy castle were surefire hits with the monkies too.

Oh, and bumping into cartoon characters and realising that they are pretty hip was cool too!

Happy Sparks is planned to be an annual event so as to allow parents a channel to access different options that cater to their children’s learning needs, so do look out for the next edition when it rolls along!

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