Four students from a government school in Bengaluru are passionate about building robots. To the extent that participating in regional level robotics competitions is just “a cakewalk” for them, says their teacher and mentor – Sridhar P.
Aravind Reddy, Ramakrishna, Lawrence Aga and A Ramesh, who call themselves team Master Minds are from the Seva Bharti Government Higher Primary School in Viveknagar.
The team, sans Lawrence, represented India at the 2017 edition of Robo Cup, a robotics competition held in Nagoya Japan too, where they presented a robot that plays the piano!
But the boys, who are children of daily wage labourers, would not have been able to make this journey if it were not for their teacher and mentor, Sridhar.
So, who is Sridhar?
Sridhar P, 33, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), is a teacher who mentors children in class five, six and seven. He collaborated with the Akshara Foundation to mentor children in Seva Bharti in the exciting field of robotics. In a conversation with The Better India, he says, “I was looking to volunteer with government schools, when I learned about the Akshara Foundation. It fit my need to what to teach kids science, using practical and fun ways.”
And what is his method of teaching them?
When the program was launched, Akhsara Foundation together with the Lego foundation, gave the children a robotics kit. Using this, they are able to build and program robots. Sridhar only steps in when they need help.
“I believe the best way to learn a concept is through application. When the kids need my help, I step in, but otherwise they are able to figure most stuff out.”
How did he raise funds for them?
In order to take the four students to Japan, Sridhar needed Rs 5 lakh. As that was not a small sum of money, he decided to crowdfund as much of it as possible. He collected Rs 2.40 lakh through crowdfunding portal Keto, raised funds from friends and the rest it was from his own pocket – this barring his own expenses, which he obviously footed.
The only disappointing result of this entire project is that the girls dropped out of the team. This was because of the restrictions imposed by the school and their families. Sridhar’s dream is to mentor an all girls team and have them represent the country one day!
Sridhar says that the only goal on the team and his mind is to win an international competition. Even though they did not win the Robo Cup at Nagoya, the outcome has not deterred them from continuing to try harder. Sridhar says their timeline is the next two years and then – it’s world domination!
Here are the Master Minds with one of their creations. The boys watch on as their robot dances to the famous Mission Impossible soundtrack!