The Story Box
The Story Box is HSKL's entry to the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge, organized by element14. Before talking about the TheStoryBox in detail, let's take a look at what it is.
What is The Story Box
The Story Box is a small handheld electronic device that does one thing: display a random word on a screen. The word are displayed by pressing a button or shaking the box (not included in the challenge version).
The basic technical components of the box are:
- LCD - to display the word
- Button - press a button a random word will be displayed
- RGB LED - different colors to set story themes (see below)
How The Story Box is Used
TheStoryBox can be used in many ways in a classroom environment. The most obvious usage is in language learning. Malaysia has a multitude of cultures, and has a corresponding variety of languages spoken by it's citizens – Bahasa Malaysia (the official language), several dialects of Chinese and Tamil from south India being among the most popular. English is also widely spoken and is taught as part of the school curriculum. Many students speak their native language when at home with their relatives or out in their communities so the school lesson is where they actually speak the most English – and as we all know, Practice makes perfect! English tends to the be 'lingua franca' of technology and so presents us with our opportunity – aiding in the teaching of English. As most of our Hackerspace members had learnt a second language, we thought back to ways that could have made our learning process earlier. We talked about how hard it is when you are just starting out and are called on to speak in class. One of the main issues is that your inspiration seems to evaporate at that moment, leaving you unsure of what you should say, regardless or not of whether you have vocabulary to actually say it!
In a language learning situation, students will create a sentence containing the word displayed by the Story Box.
Creative Students are Brilliant Students
Creativity is the hallmark of a brilliant student. Creative thinking benefit students in so many ways. It nurtures imagination, association, and thinking outside of the box. It also helps motivation and self-confident. The Story Box can be used to develop creativity in so many ways, while at the same time aid in the teaching of a language. We believe all elements of creativity comes with randomness. To create something that does not exist (in this case a sentence) requires modification of something that already exists (word). This modification (or creation of a sentence) requires the student to make sentence out of the random words that appear on the Story Box.
- Creating sentence: A random word appear on the LCD, and the student need to construct a sentence (using his imagination of course) containing the exact word. The word can be a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective. For example: magic. A rabbit appears out of nowhere, as if by magic.
- Modifying a word: A random word appear on the LCD, and the student need to construct a sentence (using his imagination of course) containing a modification of the word. For example the word magic: The rabbit disappears magically.
- Substitution: A random word appear on the LCD, and the student need to construct a sentence containing a word that have a:
- similar meaning (e.g tired == exhausted)
- opposite (e.g good == bad)
- substitute (e.g chair == couch)
- Creative story telling: The story theme is set by the class. A random color will set the theme of the story. For example, red indicates adventure. The first student press the button, and start the story telling by constructing a sentence containing the displayed word. He passes the Story Box to the next student, and he does the same by constructing a sentence that have association with the first sentence. And on and on the game is played.
The usage is limitless, but the key point is creative thinking. In a classroom environment, word play is the best usage of the Story Box. Word play encourages the students to create creative associations and relationships among different elements (words and sentences).
Some of this may or may not be included in the final build for the challenge, but the basics would be:
- LCD display - to display words
- Button - one press of a button will display random word
- RGB LED - random colors are displayed once to set the theme of the story. The class defines what color to represent what theme.
- Accelerometer - shake the box to display a random word
- Timer and buzzer - a configurable timer to buzz to indicate "time out". Student need to construct sentence before the time out.
- Multiple button to represent word difficulty, easy, medium, hard
- Randomness of word
- Does not require teacher to prepare word cards
- Single user (a student playing wordplay by himself), pairs, groups
- Easy to use (just press a button)
- Small form factor
- Battery powered
- Primary 1 - 6 (age 6 - 12)