This is what makes Robotics a new and innovative way of learning
Ever imagined why children as old as ten to fourteen years of age would be more interested to learn about Robotics and Internet of Things than simply Mathematics and Physics? Today’s children are adept and interested in exploring technology like never before, thanks to tech startups like SP Robotic Works (SPRW) and Robokidz, which are making such learning accessible and interesting.
India STEM Foundation aligned to the mission of MHRD for Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan some years ago. They purposefully proposed the establishment of Robo Siksha Kendra in every government school of India. These schools were to be built on robotics platform to promote scientific temperament and create enquiry based hands on learning environment to children in line with National Curriculum Framework and NCERT. The project was well aligned with PM’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skilled India’ projects.
Under this, the first robotics lab to be opened in Haryana’s government schools was Robo Shiksha Kendra that gladly sparked the interest of children to develop their own robots ever since its opening in July 2015. Costing approximately Rs. 7 lakh, the lab was the India Stem Foundation’s brainchild at Farrukhnagar. The lab, all equipped with ten Lego Mindstorm sets, workstations, computers and black boards was a gift for the young seeking minds.
Speaking to the media, Sudhanshu Sharma, founder of the Indian Stem Foundation shares, “The Robo Siksha Kendra aims to develop a practical knowledge about robotics. It is important that students get opportunities to learn about new technology and the chance to access it too.”
The Siksha Kendra has actually made technology accessible to the rural school of India which can now design, operate and control robots along with computer systems for information processing and sensory response. Thankfully, the introduction of lab has encouraged children to make remarkable progress at several state and national robotics competitions, including Indian Robotics Olympiad (IRO) and First Lego League (FLL).
In the private school arena, players like Robokidz are making a mark. This is a Pune-based startup that works on a partner model with schools to sets up labs for fee while SPRW focuses on an online training method for children. Lema Labs from Chennai has a robotics department which is headed by Pawan Gnanaraj. He shares how ‘a classroom setting helps intermingling of 50-60 people from different backgrounds. Here, if you have an issue, someone is there with you. The community is very active.” The IIT Madras-incubated startup runs a six-month programme. This includes six weeks of classes and four months of project work that has since 2013, trained over 4,500 persons, including school and college students.
Chennai based SPRW run online courses and are assisted by their Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven chat bot. Sneha Priya interacting with the media said, “The bot serves as a personal trainer and asks kids questions, understands whether they have any difficulties and repeats the concepts in different ways.”
Robotics isn’t easy child’s play, but the educational start-ups are using innovation to make it that simple at school level. Robotics actually deals with automation, embedded systems, mechanical engineering, IoT, etc. Most of such startups actually design simple and small kits for children to learn with. These kits contain breadboards, wires, sensors, and other such components. They then move on to teaching the children basic programming and concepts in physics, and gradually help them develop their own robots. These could be ones that merely follow a line or react to light, or more complex mobile phone-controlled ones that can perform certain tasks.