Design Thinking

We started the week with a basic crash course on how to use Arduino circuits to control our paper actuators. No doubt, the lesson was useful but largely irrelevant to my group’s project. We experimented with several different designs and sizes for our actuator but none could achieve our desired effect. Furthermore, we were still lacking in a sound concept to explain our work. Time was running out. We were frustrated and desperate. So instead of stubbornly insisting on our initial idea – an umbrella, we took a step back and decided to explore other options with the actuators that we had already made. Looking at their undersides, we realised that they bore a strong resemblance to sunflowers. This led us to Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting which sparked off some thoughts in us. Must paintings always be still-life? Can’t they be alive? These rhetorical questions became the basis for the concept of our work – breathing life into paintings. The final product? Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting affixed with paper actuator sunflowers that had petals which moved with varying temperatures.

Umbrella structure that we wanted to achieve

All our failed attempts
Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”

Our Sunflower paper actuator

The main takeaway I got from Design Thinking was that the best designs are often elegant – simple yet able to serve their intended purpose effectively.


This week marked our last session at Hushu Special School. As mentioned in my earlier post, this session was all about experiencing what the students did on a regular basis in their classes. There were 4 classes to pick from: a handicraft class, a pastry making class, a scallion pancake making class and a milk tea making class. My group settled for the milk tea making class. It was a role reversal in our class; instead of us teaching the students, it was the students who taught us how to prepare milk tea. I felt that this humbling experience was a great way to end off our journey at Hushu Special School. It showed that the student there need not always be on the receiving end, they too are capable of being on the giving end.

Handicraft class
Pastry class with Alex trying hard
Scallion pancake making class
Milk Tea making class
Our finished milk tea

Theme field trip

We were originally scheduled to visit Xixi Wetlands(西溪湿地) but due to inclement weather, we visited China Wetland Museum(中国湿地博物馆) and Zhejiang Provincial Museum(浙江省博物馆) instead. The whole aim of this field trip was to gain a better understanding of the Liangzhu people – how they lived, the tools they used and the technology they had. The exhibits in China Wetland Museum(中国湿地博物馆) showcased the relationship between the lives of ancient people and wetlands while the exhibits in Zhejiang Provincial Museum(浙江省博物馆) showcased the evolution of China pottery from unfired clay pottery to the familiar blue porcelain that we have today. Man sure has come a long way since the Stone Age.

Stormy skies seen over Xihu Lake
Lily pads afloat on Xihu Lake

Zhejiang Provincial Museum

Chinese pottery arranged in order of their age with the oldest on top

My Own Travels

I headed to Shanghai over the weekends, this time, purely for sightseeing. The places I visited include Qibao Old street (七宝老街), Nanjing Road(南京路步行街), The Bund(上海外滩), Zhujiajiao Ancient Water Town(朱家角古镇) and the world’s largest Starbucks store.

Qibao Old street

View of the water town from the bridge
View of the street
Qibao street food
Wishing Tree!!!

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road

The Bund

Night view of The Bund

Zhujiajiao Ancient Water Town

Row, row, row your boat gently down the river

Outdoor Kitchen

Exotic Cuisine
Getting “Cultured” by the paintings and embroidery

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

“Live” roasting of coffee beans

View of the outside from within the Roastery
View of the Roastery from afar

Random Pictures I took along the way

An Artbox along the street
Took this picture cos I thought the lighting of the building was nice

Shanghai Hongqiao High Speed Train Station

View of the departure hall from above
High-tech display that shows the availability of each cubicle within the toilet

That pretty much sums up the week. Heading over to Nanxun Ancient Water town(南浔古镇) tomorrow; keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t rain.

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