The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) is committed to promoting the development of semiconductor technology. In addition to supporting relevant research, MOST also actively nurtures the talent of individuals in semiconductor-related fields to equip the country for its long-term development. NARLabs' Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI), under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), has promoted the objectives of MOST policy by organizing the SenCu – Little Programmers Creative Competition. The competition encourages elementary school students in Taiwan to use creative thinking and imagination to make games, animations, and stories by combining sensors with a simple visual programming language, thus pROViding the youngest generation of the country with early knowledge of the semiconductor field.
The third SenCu – Little Programmers Creative Competition was held online due to the pandemic, and on June 9, the final results of the competition were announced. The gold medal and prize money of NT$15,000 were awarded to Team Yin-Tao from Shi-Hsing Elementary School in Hsinchu County for creating "Sports and Fitness GO," while no silver medal was awarded. Bronze medals were awarded to three teams: Team Leaf from the Affiliated Experimental Elementary School of University of Taipei for "The Math Behind Choice Behavior – Pick Up the Biggest Stone," Team Ha-Ha Python from New Taipei City's Chu Lin Private Elementary School for "3D Maze Adventure," and Team Turtle from Kaohsiung Municipal Shihchuan Elementary School for "Realistic Turtle-Keeping Game."
Team Yin-Tao's "Sports and Fitness GO" is a Scratch1 game using absolute pose sensing cubes in which players do gymnastics. Knee pads hold the sensing cubes in place, and the player goes through four interactive levels doing kicks, jumps, splits, and handstands, increasing the player's motivation to keep exercising. With a timing function included as well, the game makes gymnastic exercises fun and interesting. Because of their strong concept and the ingenuity and creative application of exercise in the game, Team Yin-Tao won over the judges and were awarded the gold medal.
In order to encourage elementary school students in Taiwan to develop logic and computational skills, TSRI developed a SenCu (sensing cube) integrated with the programming platform Scratch. The SenCu's small size and simple hardware design allows students to do more in their Scratch programming than they could with just a keyboard and mouse. The SenCu includes five applications, which detect fine particulates, absolute pose, color, distance, and temperature, respectively. Programmers can choose the right sensor cubes to fit their needs and develop a variety of creative sensing applications through wireless integration with Scratch.
To encourage elementary school students to use programming to demonstrate creative ideas and ingenuity in applying their ideas, TSRI has held the SenCu – Little Programmers Creative Competition for three consecutive years, training children how to turn their ideas into reality through design. During the competition, children put together idea books by themselves, then implement, report on, and display the creations in their books.
The theme of this year's competition was completely open, and participants could choose any SenCu sensor cube they needed to design a creative computer program with a complete and functional sensor system using Scratch 3.0 software. The competition is divided into two stages: in the preliminary round, participants put forth creative ideas, and 15 teams are selected to advance to the final round by a committee of industry and academic professionals. In the final round, teams must turn their ideas into reality, then explain their programs in a five-minute presentation. Winners are selected based on the functionality, creativity, and completeness of their programs.
1Scratch is a computer programming platform that allows users to write programs without having to learn a language. By simply dragging and dropping pre-set building block-like modules and stacking them to create instructions, users can set or control the actions and variations of characters and backgrounds.