April 2016 Posts

Curiosity through Curation

A new term I came to know although have been using it without knowing in school presentations.  Just as a `curator’ oversees or supervises or manages curation is the process of putting something together even if we have not created it.

Curating for tinkering with electronics and robotics for students with little or no prior knowledge of same meant creating a flow as to why electronics and robotics is important for all and what is there in the future for all of us in the next few decades. This was for my benefit as well as it helped keep my center point while talking and explaining to students. Curating also ensures that the curator learns the most because while trying to put together content for explaining to others one must be clear and understand what one is presenting.

For curating relevant and understandable context I have had to watch, read and listen to 10x content and much of it I rejected either on account of duplication or too complex or not-so-connected to main point or time limit of session.

Curating content for IOT- Internet of things was an eye opener. Videos, white papers and educative explanations from computer and technology companies are very interesting.

Some of the must watch videos (top few)  and concept papers to read – I am placing the list here with links for those who are keen to know why technology is important, what is already happening or beginning to happen and how will it affect us.  Happy watching and learning! 

Tinkering with electronics and robotics

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Timeless Lifeskills and its founder Mr Atul Pant talk about self-learning, re-learning and learning through your area of interest. When he initiated me some time back in this direction I only appreciated it without understanding how it works in real life. I participated in workshop and whats app conversations around it but had not seen it happening in practical – The might of self-learning and how each one of us wherever we are in location, time and resources can enable ourselves, can train ourselves to learn and achieve our goals. Maybe we all self-learn passively but Timeless Lifeskills talks about using it as a tool of learning actively and continuously.

Under Timeless Lifeskills Mr Atul Pant says that children can learn to think and learning to think like scientists if learning is done with tinkering with electronics and robotics then we children can retain more, experiment and try to explore what interests us more.

He knew about my interest in robotics and electronics. He gave me the chance for this journey of my self-learning and learning to think through taking others on the same path of self-learning and learning to think through tinkering with electronics and robotics. Under Timeless Lifeskills and Mr Atul Pant’s mentoring I began preparing for a workshop scheduled for April 2016.

It seemed easy but was not!

Day 4 – Bhuj Workshop

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The students of the schools  were to exhibit what they made in a school exhibition. The exhibition began very slowly for me. I had only three students of grade 11th exhibiting what they made during their workshop with me.

After looking at other subjects- English, Biology, Physics, Chemistry… and their exhibits, the exhibits of robotics and programming looked kind of dry and empty.

This was my first exhibition at another school for which I had trained the students of that school on a subject in which they had gone in for the first time. It made me realize my workshop had trained them for robotics and all but I had forgotten to plan for the exhibition.

Soon students of other schools began pouring into the exhibition of student work at White Eagles’ School but were walking past our exhibits. It made me feel as if the robotics and programming was least interesting of all. Nonetheless, one curious little tot walked towards the exhibits.

Day 3 – Bhuj Workshop

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Today, I learnt how to do a jugad: a workable, spur of the moment solution. I decided to teach MIT’s Scratch to all classes today but of course, I had no idea how to begin – how to begin to teach coding to children who have not done coding before.

I looked up to the God of Jugad (if there is one) for an invocation. Soon enough, my prayers were heard and a clever idea came to my head of teaching those modules in Scratch that I used the most myself.

Day 2 – Bhuj Workshop

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I disassembled the robotic kits that I made yesterday so that they could be used again today. This has been a big learning for me. It may have be easy to take as many kits as the number of children but many children in other schools await such opportunity therefore it is necessary that the same resources be spread to cover more children hence the kits had to be reused. This added resource management angle to the workshop which is a learning!

Some of the robotic kits, I realised, were not used to making durable robots so after yesterday’s workshop, I was left with 2 out of 4 robots of each type as remaining were either malfunctioning or had parts that were missing.Even though robotics kits in the scheme of  Line Follower or Obstacle Avoider were selected with assembling and reassembling in mind but they could not stand the test of handling and tinkering.

People who are conducting such workshops should remember  that these kits at the end of the day are parts curated from China, India or some such tech manufacturing hub where eye is to manufacture to scale and not to quality.

Day 1- Bhuj Workshop

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I would be working with grades 9 to 12 of The White Eagle School, Bhuj over the next four day period, starting 11th April. I was anxious as well as excited. Anxious whether I will able to handle it smoothly and initiate the students into electronics and robotics with as much engagement and excitement as I myself have. Excited also I was – to see how the dynamics of self learning, to see how tinkering with robotics will take students like myself into a whole new world.

Charging the Power to Learn

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The flow of electricity churns the spirit of invention in me. Electronics is so simple to understand and manipulate; the first time I made a light Theremin using light sensors, a resister, a piezo and a button cell, the glee I felt when the music of my own creation played was beyond this world. The power to bend electricity through wires and LED’s make me feel as if I am in possession of an intangible power that resembles that of Jedis.