CHENNAI: Asimov’s robots may not have arrived in the city yet but Chennai children have experience with football-playing, maze-solving robots. The city’s robotics scene is gradually picking up, with the tech savvy generation taking to coding like fish to water.
Lego, B-Bots and NXTs – some Chennai schools have taken to integrating robotics into the school curriculum, which the new generation is more than ready to embrace.
At the junior robotics lab at Bala Vidya Mandir, Adyar, the 10-year-old children shout out answers to the instructor in enthusiasm. “We start with Lego and basics but later move to building our own robots and programming them,” says Karthi Srinivasan, a student of Class 10.
We talk of the IPL and ISL. A more important event for them is coming in December — the Indian Robotix League (IRL). What began with a participation of 70 students has shot up to around 4,000 students from Classes 4 to 12 in eight events. “It is an amazing event, with cars whizzing, robots playing football and excited children all over the hall,” says Aditi Prasad, COO of Robotix Learning Solutions (RLS), a Chennai-based organisation that conducts classes on robotics in schools and organises the IRL. RLS sets up robotics labs in schools and organises summer classes and workshops.
Robotics is not just about creating commands and codes, the logical thinking and creativity that goes into it helps overall development, says Aditi. “If the child learns to programme the robot to reach a destination past a maze using a fixed number of commands, he also learns problem solving,” she says.
Aditi said that robotics was a great way to help children understand concepts like electricity, circuits and mathematics. “We learnt in a mundane way, but for these children teaching can be made more interesting. So when we prepare for the robotics classes, we look through the syllabi of other subjects and try to reinforce those concepts through robotics,” says Aditi.
Robotix is also conducting a campaign ‘@indiangirlscode’ so that more girls can join coding and robotics. “We want more people to be interested in robotics. Every field, from surgery to home automation will encapsulate robotics in the future,” she says.