On July 6, the leadership, teachers and parents of the High School for the Gifted VNUHCM (PTNK for short) and the students of STEAM PTNK club visited Fulbright University Vietnam for a warm kick-off of the STEM summer internship program at Makerspace.
Fulbright’s Makerspace is a special space for students to study engineering-related subjects. This place is like a factory full of modern machinery and equipment imported from abroad. In addition to serving as an engineering lab for Undergraduate STEM majors, Makerspace is also the “home base” for the Design and Systems Thinking class – a core course at Fulbright University Vietnam. It is a place to nurture creativity and interdisciplinary skills, fundamental to the designing process of creating a product or solving challenges in daily life.
During the visit, faculty and students of the two schools actively engaged in conversations surrounding STEM and its applications for the future, as well as exploring Fulbright’s special undergraduate curriculum focused on hands-on projects and practical learning. This official meeting also marked the beginning of an exciting summer for the PTNK’s students: the start of a STEM internship program at Fulbright University Vietnam’s Makerspace.
Accordingly, 5 PTNK’s students will research and find a way to improve a “teaching assistant robot” to help enhance hybrid classes, enabling teachers or students from afar to have more physical interaction with the classroom. The students will work in a team and each will tackle a different aspect of the project. Nguyen Duy Khang and Nguyen Hoang Quan (Grade 11 Physics specialized class – 11L) take on the LiDar programming to help measure the distance; Nguyen Son Bach (11L) focuses on the mechanics, optimizing the robot frame; Nguyen Thong Nguyen (11KC3) and Nguyen Cong Danh (11L) are in charge of the electricals and motors.
The internship program is designed and led by Fulbright students with the support of STEM faculty, aiming to equip PTNK’s students with creative skills and interdisciplinary thinking. Phan Hoang Lan, a Fulbright student and Makerspace advisor, shared: “Within 3 months of summer, PTNK’s students will get to work in a professional environment and gain practical experiences. At Fulbright’s Makerspace internship, they will be proactive in setting their own learning goals, and we (the student advisors) will act as mentors to guide and support them so that they can all maximize this internship.”
Unlike high school projects, after the end of the internship, in addition to the group product, the students will also have a project report written by themselves, which can be added to their future college applications. This will also be the first full-English project for these PTNK’s students, from studying and researching the principles, to making proposals and reports – Lan excitedly said.
Dr. Truong Trung Kien, Chair of Engineering at Fulbright University Vietnam, encouraged the young students to be curious and to ask questions, to challenge themselves with creative ideas and critical thinking. Most courses at Fulbright are designed with the hands-on project approach, and so is the summer internship program at Makerspace. Dr. Kien explicated that by learning how to make a product, students can apply the design and system thinking in life and help them learn to look at/tackle problems from different angles.
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, Deputy Provost of the University of Natural Sciences cum Provost of the High School for the Gifted, VNU-HCM, expressed her optimism about the cooperation between students of the two schools. She believes that the closeness in age will help them converse more naturally and unleash their full creativity in this summer internship. At the same time, in a meeting with Fulbright representatives, Dr. Mai and the teachers of the High School for the Gifted also look forward to longer-term cooperation between the two institutions, where both can collaborate in creating space and opportunities for future development of STEM subjects.
About Fulbright’s Makerspace
Fulbright’s Makerspace was established in 2019 thanks to the support from the American people. Our mission is to foster new generations of creative thinkers and problem solvers by providing all Fulbright students, regardless of prior experience, with the technology and equipment to explore their inventive ideas and creative workflow. As of today, Fulbright’s Makerspace is well-equipped with 3D printers and scanners, hot wire foam cutters, soldering irons, smoke filters, oscilloscopes, etc.