Robotics Posts

Nurturing Tinkersteers at IT’s Magic

It is fun to call ourselves as Tinkersteers– musketeers of new age who are engaged in self learning through tinkering.  And I am happy to be part of this community. July workshop at IT’s Magic, computer center for Neev seemed well received. I found the children who came for the workshop, most of them from VIII and  IX grades, eager and keen enthusiasts. They wanted the workshop to go on. Many of them asked when next?

In August workshop we explored

Sowing the foundations for tinkering at IT’s Magic

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Tinkering with electronics and robotics visits IT’s Magic!

Saturday morning on 23rd July began with an introduction to simple circuits and what electricity is all about for these kids.

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 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.

Arduino Obstacle Avoider

This was one of my first few projects in Arduino. Making an Obstacle Avoider robot was a challenge in itself that introduced me to new components and a thing called “module” which is very different from basic electronics like LED or DC motors. In fact, while researching on the same, I learnt there are two ways of making Obstacle Avoider:

  1. One using Arduino and Arduino modules.
  2. Another using electrical components like transistors, IR sensor, motors, many, many wires and no microcontroller such as Arduino.