New products of the Indian classrooms – Robots
Gone are the days when extracurricular activities at schools only meant dance, music or painting. Even as certain schools have geared up a lot more to make their students more artistically inclined to art forms such as these, extracurricular activities have gone hi-tech in a few other schools these days. Students now want to create robots and make them dance to their tunes right in their classrooms!
Robotics is no more restrained to defence and science labs. They are no more a spectacle you see only in science fiction movies, they have now entered the classrooms. Students now have fun building robots in their classrooms. Says D. Dwaraka Sarathi, who runs an educational robotics firm which operates in Hyderabad and Bangalore, “Our motive is to cultivate creativity and interest among students in the field of scientific education.”
Apart from holding holiday camps in robotics, Sarathi also offers creative educational courses in engineering colleges and schools. The courses vary in levels of difficulty. He quips, “Our courses create an educational venue where young hobbyists can learn the basics and get a chance to assemble robots ranging in complexity from entry level kits to more advanced robots.”
Sarathi regularly runs hobby clubs in major schools in Bangalore. Two of their major clients are International School of Bangalore and Trio World School. One of the best aspects of robotics in education is that it is multi-disciplinary. The learner can explore basics of physics, mechanics, electronics and computer science all at once. The activity also helps a child develop better thinking and life skills. Says well-known professional roboticist Mohit Bhoite, “While building a robot, a child is confronted with challenges at every step. For example, it needs to scout for components for the robot. It needs to ponder on how the structure of the robot be built and how can the weight constraint of the robot be overcome. If the algorithm is not working as expected then that too needs to be figured out.” He adds, “The child is never deterred by these challenges because basically he is motivated. When building this is a team effort them he is learns team skills too.” This exercise also helps a child think spatially, in the sense, this three-dimensional imagination is stimulated.
One of the other major benefits of robotics for school students is the hands-on knowledge it offers. For instance, physics concepts can, after all, be truly learnt only through hands-on practical experience so robotics is a good solution. Says Rajesh Yadavalli, a robotics professional, “Through robotics students grasp concepts in technology, engineering, math and science with better ease. It also gives abilities in problem-solving besides helping them become better team workers and leaders. In general, such an assignment can help young minds work together much better in real life situations.” So clearly, today, a good career is not the only aim of implementing robotics in schools.
Mohit stresses that the robotics market has also opened up for the lay hobbyist who builds robots in the comfort of his home. Today, the web world is also replete with instructional websites. So, even a person who does not have an educational robotics background can build a robot. But getting access to the components is a challenge especially if the person lives in a small town.