Training for Training

Mentor training Program to Foster Logical and Creative Thinking Using ICT for Basic Education

By Regan Maharjan

For a tech enthusiast, who has always been fascinated by the technological advancement happening in the world, what could be more exciting than an event where one gets to learn about Robot Programming? My take on making robots used to be – “Making Robots and Robot Programming is tough”. My perception of the challenge probably made me more excited about the event. Our facilitator Pr. Dr. Yoshinari Mizutani from the Miyagi University of Education frequently insisted on doing things sequentially, one step at a time, which might be why all the participants in the event took all of it really well. Although he delivered it in Japanese, his interpreter did a great job of emulating exactly what the professor was trying to express so it was very easy to understand him. During the three days workshop of Robot Programming, I realised that Basic Robot Programming is not very difficult.

Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete. “

The First Day

The training was designed for trainees to work in teams. The participants were divided into four groups, with each team consisiting of four or five, we were introduced to the Artec Robo Set i.e, a set of robot building elements which consisted of legos, wheels, sensors, and wire cables. The first robot we were instructed to create was a dancing car robot with wheels and a touch sensor which would just dance front-back and back-front and stop if we pressed the touch sensor. The instruction was given verbally as well as in papers so it was not that hard to assemble and code. After finishing the first robot, in the demonstration session, everyone was enjoying and having fun demonstrating their creation. In the demonstration session, I gave a short intro about our team’s robot and named it the confused robot because I felt like our robot gets confused after pressing the touch sensor. I just wanted to contemplate the lifeless robot’s feelings to the name, just if it was alive what it would have been feeling. And, it feels joyful and accomplishing to have created something really fun. Everyone was already thinking of things to do with the robot, trying to be more creative, trying to use what they have to do whatever possible with it, and all of a sudden the participants turned into a vibrant group of people who wanted to create more. Actually, the hunger to create remained till the last day for me and for everyone too.

The SECOND Day

On the second day, we learned about servo motors, how to turn the car robot using two DC motors, and also to identify and respond to the obstacle in front of it using IR Photo Reflector sensor. We were given the assignment of making the car robot to travel a certain distance until it encounters some obstacle and, then to drop the carriage the robot is carrying to the obstacle. After finishing the assignment, we had to demonstrate the robot and the times our robots took to travel a certain distance were duly noted by the professor to assess whose robot reached the fastest. We didn’t know we were having a race when we built it. So everybody rushed back to their tables and, every team was into rebuilding the robot to reduce its weight and to maintain balance to compete for the race. The competency there was real, everybody was excited about the judgment time and everyone was enjoying a lot.

The tHIRD Day

On the final day of the training, we learned about using IR Photo Reflector sensor to do the line tracing with the car robot. And this was the highest level of robot we were creating in this workshop. The assignment this time was to go through a thick line of black in a white paper and then to recognize the obstacle and drop the carriage to the obstacle. Everyone had fun demonstrating their robots this time as well. During all the sessions, Professor was also suggesting us the ways to guide the students more efficiently. We had feedback sessions at the beginning of every session so that the professor could incorporate the feedback participants gave and so to deliver in better ways.

The last Day

On the final day, we went to Yasodhara school to guide what we had learned from the three days of training sessions and to monitor if the students could grasp what the course is offering. All the students were extremely excited knowing that they are getting to learn to make robots. One of the teachers of the same school who also participated in the mentor training with us took lead on the day and all others stayed with different teams of students to facilitate them. While asking the students about their expectations from the course, they said they wanted to make human-like robots and one of them even said he would like to build a robot who would do his homework for him. The session then went on and they were all a lot more excited than we were during our first session. They started playing with the robot and they were already trying out different things in the software out of curiosity. They were trying to change the code then transfer to the robot and see the difference with different programming code until the end of the session.

My TAKE ON THE PROGRAMME

What I feel is teaching robot programming to school students would definitely take them out of their rigorous school settings and let them roam in their imaginations, trigger their curiosity & creativity and hence developing logical thinking and problem-solving. Robot programming course made all of the participants realize how creative we can be, how we can logically train our brains by playing with the robots and how we can channel it to problem-solving. I personally feel robot programming can help the students to express themselves and also learn about time management if the classes are well conducted. Some might as well find their passion in it. I felt very much thankful to OLE Nepal for this fun-filled opportunity of learning robot programming and help in organizing a robot programming session for students in my locality.

CONCLUSION

 I would definitely love to see this incorporated in every school so that students can further foster their logical and creative thinking with robots and programming. Wouldn’t we want our kids, brothers, sisters, siblings to excel in such fashion? Wouldn’t we?