From creating robots that play football to making them wrestle, these kids are learning math, science and programming without missing out on fun!
Lincy Jeksy, an educator based in Kochi, Kerala, had been teaching physics for 20 years when she realised that for the most part, students didn’t quite get the grasp of her subject. Much of the syllabus was theoretical and she noticed that students weren’t that interested. Most importantly, she recognised that her students were unable to apply that theory in the real world.
Hence, she decided to quit her day-job and start DCS Robotics, a unique training centre that teaches students to build innovative robots.
In the process, students learn various science and math-based concepts as well as computer programming.
“Instead of forcing children to learn by rote, we teach them concepts by getting them to apply it. One thing I noticed after being a teacher for 20 years is that most students cannot convert their theoretical knowledge into practical application. When I did some research, I realised that with robotics one can teach these concepts through fun methods to students,” says Lincy, who started DCS about a year ago.
Students as young as eight years of age come for these classes. At DCS, students are sectioned off into three levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced. Those students who are part of the beginner and intermediate levels are taught through a graphical interface that makes it easier for them to grasp the process.
First they are taught the mechanics of assembling a robot, followed by an understanding of the computer programming necessary to make their robot work.
At the crux of it all is an element of fun, as the students are encouraged to think out of the box.
“We teach through various games. For instance, there are times when we divide all the children into two groups and have them create two robots each,” she says. “Now these robots will be made to play football with one another and it is up to the creativity of these students as to how these robots function and how they play. Sometimes, we get them to take part in races and sometimes it can even be wrestling.”
Students are thus made to use formulas and theorems outside of a notebook. If they have to make their robots race, then they have to calculate speed, velocity and acceleration.
If they have to make their robots wrestle, then they need to understand and apply the concept of friction, so their robots do not end up skidding during the competition.
Ultimately, this is about introducing and popularising STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) among children. It is also a creative way of ensuring that when students leave school and start attending college, they don’t struggle in the process.
“A lot of students, who leave school, suddenly find themselves unable to understand how things work in college, especially those who go to engineering colleges. Some even sign up for courses like mechanical engineering or electrical engineering without even knowing what those courses would entail. An understanding of robotics will help them figure this out much in advance,” notes Lincy.
As recruiters increasingly bemoan the lack of practical knowledge, even among college graduates, perhaps making learning fun with the help of robots could hold the key in getting Indian students start thinking with a practical and creative mindset right from the get-go.
“When I was a teacher, I had to deal with children asking teachers like me to stop classes; they wanted school to end so they could go home. Now, these children beg us to let them stay even after classes are over because they are so caught up in it all.”
And that’s really the point – to make learning fun.
DCS Robotics can be contacted here.
Photo credits: Facebook