Taking tech to young minds

Being the student and the teacher is a fulfilling experience

While I was training in embedded systems, my mentor informed me about the internship opportunity at TECHB. I applied and got shortlisted. The selection procedure consisted of a written test and a personal interview. The hour-long test had MCQs on microcontrollers, Arduino, various kinds of integrated chips, semiconductors and some short programming questions. Seventeen students were shortlisted for the interview. I introduced myself and was asked about my previous training. The interviewer told me that I would be trained in electronics and if everything went well, I might be sent to conduct workshops. I was asked if I would be able to handle that. I replied that public speaking was one of my strengths and having organised workshops before, I would definitely be able to handle it. In the end, I was asked if I knew about Atal Tinkering Lab or Atal Innovation Mission. I had no idea about either, and replied honestly.

Fostering curiosity

The next day they extended an offer. On the first day, we had an orientation programme wherein they described our job profile and responsibilities. That’s when I came to know that TECHB is a vendor for Atal Tinkering Lab, which is an innovative step by Atal Innovation Mission of NITI Aayog. As part of this initiative, Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) are being established in schools across India. The objective is to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing, and so on. The labs contain educational ‘do it yourself’ kits, science, electronics, and robotics equipment, open source microcontroller boards, sensors, 3D printers, and computers. I was told about our modules, the packages that we’d be explaining, and all other details of the training process.

Soon, my training started. I was asked to give presentations on how I would teach and help students with their hands-on projects. I was given feedback after my presentation. After two weeks of training, the supervisor was satisfied and gave me the green light to start as a trainer.

My first assignment was with Krishna Public School, Raipur. On my first day as an ATL trainer, I held an orientation programme for students and the faculty. I made a presentation on the topics I would be teaching. I led a nine-day workshop where I taught robotics and Arduino programming. I began my training with the basics and gradually moved towards advanced concepts. Each session was about three hours — 1.5 hours of concept building, and hands-on project work based on what we had learnt. We also made several projects like line follower robots, obstacle avoiding robots, LED matrices, and so on. Seeing school students perform these advanced and innovative projects filled me with pride. Some students also decided to work on projects of their own and I guided them.

My next assignment was at government higher secondary schools in Basna and Narra, two villages in Chhattisgarh. As the children couldn’t speak English, I trained them in Hindi. They worked on various projects enthusiastically, bringing new ideas. We also did a home automation project, since a student wanted to learn how to control lights using his mobile phone.

I had some knowledge about embedded systems before this, but doing all these projects strengthened my concepts. I learned to make better presentations and became more confident. In a nutshell, this internship gave me an experience that I’ll cherish forever.

Arpita Dutta is a final year B.E. Electronics and Telecommunications student of Bhilai Institute of Technology, Durg, Chhattisgarh.