Skip to content

Week 01. Principles and Practices

This week I embarked on a new journey in my life and career as a student of Fab Academy 2019! I have been so excited yet a bit nervous because it seems to be a series of very systematic courses with a lot of knowledges and skills that I will need to devote a lot of time to make sure I can grasp the knowledget and graduate successfully. And the first week’s 3 hours of learning was consisted of the following main parts.

  • 1-hour lecture of digital fabrication, fab lab, fab academy etc.
  • Final presentations from the last cycle
  • Meet each labs around the world
  • Goodbye from every lab (this is so interesting)

And this week’s assignment is to sketch a final project.

When the classed was dismissed I did not have any idea about what my final project will be. It was almost 2am when I arrived home (time difference is amazing :D)! And instead of feeling sleepy, I had a little friend called “insomnia” accompanying me the whole night, this I could git the credit to the coffee before the class and my excitement for this new opportunity of joining the Fab Academy! And when I couldn’t sleep, my mind was wondering around the wide & gentle night to search for a possible final project. And then it clicked: how about making a project that helps people learn English vocabulary?

The Story & Inspiration

Why this project? As an English major, it seems to be quite straightforward and natural for me to take English as a language that I use frequently in life and work. However, I got asked a lot by many friends about how I learn English. I used to say “just follow what it said in Chinese “听说读写: listen-speak-read-write”, you need to listen a lot to grasp a feeling of the language, to read aloud and try to speak blah blah blah”. And then a while later, my friend might come back and say “it doesn’t work”. Then I will say “try read some books, start from short articles or jokes, and underscore or write down the words you do not know, memorize them later” etc. This kind of conversation occured many times, and now looking back, most of my friends did not find it easier to learn English (or another foreign language.)

And with a hind-sight reflection, I realized I need to share my experience as a beginner to my friends. When I started learning English in middle school, I used to randomly write down some English words on my sketchbook whenever I have some fragmentations of time. Some of the words were from the textbooks, some from the short articles or novels that I read. This process did not bore me because I regarded it as a way to brush up my handwriting skills (Just like Chinese calligraphy, you need to practice different strokes repeatedly.) And I don’t think many people will enjoy this process. So, how about I created a project that “mimick” this process and then allow people to remember the words by playing games?!

Which game will it be? My mind began searching, and this game appeared in my mind: a whack-a-mole game. A a person who does not follow the trending new games, a retro gram like whack-a-mole makes it not only easy but also fun to play. Of course this is my own thinking (in the middle of the night. haha) without any proof.


Image Credit: Wikipedia Whack-A-Mole

The next day I asked some friends about their thoughts, and many are very interested in using this project. Yayy!!

So here is my potential final project.

  • What is it?
    A Whack-a-mole game that helps you learn English words

  • Who will use it?
    Anyone (both kids and adults) who want to remember English words

  • How will it work?
    (1) Transfer the specific lexicons into the gaming system (either teachers update the daily/weekly new words or individual learners update the words from the articles/books they are reading)
    (2) The system will display the words randomly, and the player will hit the letters of the words to win the game.

  • What will it look like?
    I assume the letters will display as the qwerty keyboards, in this way, even if the player hits the buttons fast and doesn’t remember which letter it is, she/he remembers the locations of the letters. (Hopefully it will help especially for people who use keyboards frequently. And her/his hands might automatically touch the respective buttons when she/he is typing a certain word.) And yet, if the shape is the same as normal keyboards, it might not be appealing enough as a game. I am thinking about making it in a shape of a bunny (I was born in the year of rabbit and rabbit is cute!) or a butterfly (I remember a customer of my computer Seeed Studio DIYed a keyboard with the shape of a butterfly which looks so pretty!) According to my shattered memory, the creator of this project designed his own PCB board etc. - I need to dig deeper to find out more about this project: for my skills, I think I might use some existing controllers to control instead of designing a complete new board. Will figure it out later.

(a simple sketch of my final project)

This is the basic info of my potential final project, which is sketched in my mind for now. I will need to do some more research to see whether there are already some similar projects available. What I can learn from the existing projects? How I can improve based on the resources that are currently available etc. :D