Robotics Program in India; Manzil 2016
From July 19th to August 10th members of The Blair Robot Project were in New Delhi, India to participate in a program called Manzil. Manzil is a non-profit organization that provides a community and resources for local youth from low-income backgrounds to learn. Our members held their own robotics course for students ages 8 and up with the intention of not only exposing their students to FIRST and robotics, but also to get them excited about STEM.
At the start of the course, students were shown videos of robots including FRC robots and competitions to give them an idea of what we do and what robots are capable of. All of the students showed enthusiasm and interest while watching these videos. In the following lessons students worked with a Lego Mindstorms robot to learn about parts and sensors. Although students progressed slowly, they continued to be attentive and engaged in the course.
On July 27th our members began working with students other than those that came to their class. Manzil offers a variety of course such as English, math, computer science, and even cooking. We co-taught some of these classes and exposed all of these students to robotics and STEM, relating their course to it. One such events was a discussion held in an English class. The teacher of the course asked our members to join the discussion because native english speaking would greatly help the students. The teacher made the topic of the discussion robotics and technology. The experience was fun for the students and our members and everyone learned something new that day. In addition to attending other classes, we demoed robots, talked about FIRST, and discussed what we have been working on in common rooms where the bulk of students passed by. Many students were curious and asked many questions.
By the end of the course, students were given a task to accomplish by building a robot. Students were given the parts they needed with very little instruction. They were able to complete the task with a bit of guidance. Students even were able to begin moving their robots and start touching on the programming aspect of robotics. We were proud of how much the students were able to achieve and learn in just a couple of week, but what we were happiest about was the students said they would love to continue learning about robotics and STEM in the future. The entire program was truly an amazing experience and it was inspiring to see the impact Manzil has had on these students and the community. It was humbling to be a part of something so important.
On the last day, our members at Manzil along with some students video called with members back home so that more of the team could interact with the students. We asked them about how they liked the class and overall impressions of robotics and STEM. It was great to hear the positive feedback firsthand from the students. We then had a long, engaging discussion about ethics in robotics. We touched topics such as robotic cars, robotic teachers, drones, medical devices, emotions, and much more. All the students had unique opinions and everyone back home was amazed to see the interest they displayed in robotics. Overall, it was a successful end to a truly inspirational experience. Team 449 hopes to inspiring students to explore STEM in the future.