Hey class, meet Mr Robot!

Hey class, meet Mr Robot!

Through the ‘Robotics for Schools’ programme, Sudhanshu Sharma, Managing Director, Techtronics India Ltd, believes that he can help bridge the gap between textbook concepts and their practical application in schools across India.

“Learning is mostly limited to theories, examinations and the race to score high marks or grades,” he says, adding that his mantra is all about ‘learning by doing’.   He formed Techtronics Education in 2006 and tied up with LEGO Education, Denmark, that provides toys and teaching materials for students, to encourage activity- based learning in schools.

“We hope to provide a wholesome, activity-based education to students from class 3 to 12 through the Robotics for Schools programme,” he says. 

But why use a robot in the first place? There are many activity-based learning modules for kids available today that are simpler, for instance, role play, online educational software or even good old projects and presentations.

“Under the new programme, students understand concepts taught in class through the model robots which they create. These solutions utilise LEGO products combined with tailor-made programs to provide integrated learning solutions for both teachers and students. For instance, they can create robots that could act like puppets and educate students about places in India and the cultural diversity of every place.  While learning about a topic like friction in Science, instead of only reading about it from a textbook, a student can build a robot and program it in such a way that it will perform functions to explain the concept better,” declares  Sudhanshu. 

What about the cost of the programme, I ask. Techtronics, he says, provides the school with the hardware, the curriculum and the training for teachers and charges anywhere between Rs 8,000 to 20,000 a kit, based on  the number of students who sign up for the programme. 

Apurva Kalia, technical advisor, Techtronics, justifies the cost and says, “It makes learning fun and is worth every rupee.  Many schools — conventional and experimental — are either on board or have expressed interest in this initiative.”

But children already have such packed schedules, both during and after school, so where would they find the time for yet another programme? Apurva says, “Many schools today have dedicated a huge chunk of school time to activity-based learning, so there isn’t a need to carve out a fresh time slot.” Sudhanshu adds, “The only challenge is to ensure that robotics finds some space in a student’s time table, otherwise there is always the option of after-school programmes.”

Techtronics Education is coming up with training centres (offering them as franchises) in many cities, where children between 8 and 12 years will dedicate 40-45 hours in a year, after school, to make robots and find solutions to challenges that will supplement classroom learning.

To many, this may not sound any different from yet another hobby class but Sudhanshu and Apurva beg to differ. “We are surrounded by machines that help us perform simple to complex functions. Such activity-based learning will certainly help children prepare for the future,” says Sudhanshu.

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