Gurgaon: Far from the high-rises and the busy lives of the city -- 22 kilometres from Gurgaon, to be precise -- a laboratory, is giving hundreds of school students an opportunity to understand the science behind robots.
Robo Siksha Kendra, the first robotics lab to be opened in Haryana’s government schools, is sparking the interest of children to develop their own robots ever since it opened in July 2015. Costing `7 lakh, the lab is set up in a classroom on the ground floor of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Farrukhnagar by India Stem Foundation. The lab is equipped with ten Lego Mindstorm sets, workstations, computers and black boards.
“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,” Sudhanshu Sharma, founder of the Indian Stem Foundation, said.
The Siksha Kendra has enabled the school students to design, operate and control robots along with computer systems for information processing and sensory response. Though the lab was opened less than a year ago, the students have been making remarkable progress at several state and national robotics competitions, including Indian Robotics Olympiad (IRO) and First Lego League (FLL).
“I started learning about robots a couple of months ago. It is interesting to understand how small screws and knobs can help to create a machine that can do almost everything that is humanly possible. Though I don’t want to be an engineer, the Kendra has helped me focus and learn about technology in a practical environment,” Dikshit Yadav of class 9 said. Yadav is one of the core members of the school’s robotics team.
The students have an hour-long session thrice a week, the robotics teacher Chetan Sharma says. Sharma got a special four-month training in robotics from the Indian Stem Foundation and teaches over 300 students.
While taking classes, Sharma divides the students in groups of four to work on one Lego set. He says undivided attention from the teacher is important for students to understand robotics.
“I underwent a rigorous training scheduled by the foundation. Robotics is as difficult unless one gets the concepts right. I, as a teacher, can only teach basics to the students but there are instances where a students’ results are far from my expectations. I am sure these students will make a big name in the country one day,” Sharma says.
However, a few students denied the teacher’s claims and said that the classes are held once in three weeks. They said that only a few selected students get extra time in the labs as they have to prepare for competitions and the others are not allowed to go there regularly.
“We do not have regular classes at the Siksha Kendra. It is only once in three weeks that the sessions are held. Earlier, it was regular but the frequency reduced over time. The classes are generally held on Saturdays, as other subjects are taught on weekdays ,” a class 8 student said.
Another student of class 9 said, “The students who are able to understand it in first go are pulled in for competitions. The teachers are not making efforts to look for new talent. Only the selected few are lucky to go for competitions and learn more about the subject.”
However, school principal Suman Negi refuted the claims of the students and said that the classes are held regularly. A few sessions were cancelled for preparations for the upcoming examinations. Each student get undivided attention, she said.
“A few sessions were cancelled to create slots for extra classes. The new session will again have regular robotic classes. We are very proud of the lab and aim to provide practical knowledge to the students. Each child who passes from the school will have all basic robotic knowledge,” Suman Negi says.