Edu tech startup sets up robotics labs in 700 schools across India
Avishkaar has focused on developing creativity and innovation among young minds by setting up robotics/tinkering/science labs for more than 40,000 students, in hundreds of schools across the country
A leader in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education disseminating through its own range of Do-It-Yourself robotics kits and in-school robotics programs, Avishkaar focuses on creating a dynamic environment where young minds are encouraged to imagine and innovate through engaging educational experiences. “This is achieved through Avishkaar Learning Programs (ALPs),” says Tarun Bhalla, Founder & CEO, Avishkaar, explaining further that ALPs focus on STEAM concepts and provide ideas, experiences and material (hands-on/virtual) that children use to understand their areas of interest allowing them to follow a path to achieve their goal. The edu tech startup was started as Building Blocks Learning Solutions in 2010.
Avishkaar supports and offers the equipment and solutions to set up Atal Tinkering Labs as envisioned by NITI Aayog. “At present, Avishkaar has a presence in more than 700 schools pan India having inspired more than 40,000 students through its innovation platforms,” states Bhalla.
Bhalla and his team’s efforts have won recognition like Best STEM Product Suppliers by AICRA; Emerge 50 Awards 2016 by Nasscom; Top 100 Startups to Watch 2018 by Sutra HR.
Apart from a host of products, Avishkaar also sets up tinkering/robotics labs across India. This is done with the assistance of an expansive network of channel partners. “We run a tight ship and have been able to implement a series of robotics clubs/programs in schools. Presently, there are four programs which we offer,” mentions Bhalla. These programs are :
Coders Club: Where students can learn a fun, exciting, active, joyful and stimulating way to code with Avishkaar kits.
Mechanical Modelling Club: Where they get to learn about the Engineering Design Process, enabling them to design, build, test and improve with Avishkaar INTRO kit and LITE kit.
Programmers Club: This is where they build advanced programmable robots and perform tasks using Avishkaar ER-Series Full Kit.
Tinkerer’s Club: This will be a part of an advanced program where they can learn technical and soft skills, such as design, engineering, coding, problem solving and leadership.
Avishkaar Makerspace is an attempt by Avishkaar to create innovative spaces that enable the user to make anything that they can dream of. “A typical makerspace has the ambience to dream, equipment to make and the curriculum to structure innovation of any kind. Its interdisciplinary nature helps in developing thought, engineering and creative skills. They pave the way to develop a product or solve social problems,” explains Bhalla.
Range of products
Avishkaar ER-Series Intro Kit: Introducing children to the world of mechanics and electronics with Avishkaar’s ER-Series Intro kit.
- Do-It-Yourself Robotics for beginners
- Comes with a pre-built chassis got get-set-go experience
- Enhances creativity and imagination
Avishkaar ER-Series Lite Kit: With Avishkaar’s ER-Series Lite Kit, children can learn various science concepts like centre of gravity, gear system for increased torque and speed, friction, etc.
- India’s most popular Do-It-Yourself Robotics kit based on STEAM
- Contains microcontroller based, WiFi enabled LITE brain, motors and a remote
- Designed to strengthen the concepts of mechanical design
*Can also be controlled with Avishkaar Remote App
Avishkaar ER-Series Full Kit: This is India’s first and most advanced programming kit for children. Designed specifically for slightly older kids (12+), they can create different kinds of robots like black line follower, obstacle avoider, humanoids, and more.
- DIY Programmable Robotics Kit
- Has more than 150+ parts including programmable FULL Brain, programmable motors and sensors
- Helps in developing problem-solving and coding skills
Avishkaar ER-Series X Kit: India’s first prototyping tool for electronics which comes with a built-in breadboard for circuit designing. Makers can learn circuit designing, basic and advanced programming, and update their open source and extensible hardware skills.
- Learn concepts of circuit design, programming, and IOT
- Based on the open platform allowing seamless integration with other technologies
*Can also be controlled using Avishkaar Maker Studio
These products introduce the student community to a world of robotics where they have the opportunity to tinker, to make with their hands. “Children can channel their creative skills to engineer different and varied robotics design systems. They learn and develop new skills like problem-solving, logic building, programming, coding and concepts of mechanical designs. Isn’t that exciting? Children receive the tools to satisfy and explore their curiosity,” informs Bhalla.
Educational institutions benefit from the fact that they get an opportunity to provide a space/lab/club where students can make anything that they can dream of. It’s a safe place for them where they explore new ideas, tinker and make something new. “Talking from an operational point of view, institutions have to earmark a space where Avishkaar can come and set up a lab/robotics clubs,” shares Bhalla, pointing out the factors that the schools stand to gain by collborating with Avishkaar:
Use of innovative learning materials
- The best practical way to equip students with 21st-century skills
Adaptation of new teaching methodologies
Helps in improving schools digital equity and economic development
Eligibility of students to take part in International Competitions – IRC League and Avishkaar Makeathon
A typical club costs at around 6K per student for a 1.5 hour weekly session. “Avishkaar has always believed in honest pricing and focuses on providing end to end support to all its partners/educational institutions,” affirms Bhalla.
Avishkaar is primarily targeting educational institutions such as schools and robotics clubs across the country helping them set up labs and promote tinkering within the institutions. According to Bhalla, Indian educational institutions have shown a real willingness to invest in robotics labs and clubs acknowledging the need to provide their students the opportunity to make/tinker, “This is achieved through our flagship Avishkaar Learning Programs (ALPs), running in hundreds of schools across Asia. ALPs are In-School Robotics Programs for students focused on a hands-on and fun-driven learning approach. Developed by academicians and seasoned educators, our Robotics Programs can be integrated with the school curriculum and cover lesson plans with specific learning outcomes, assessments and teacher training for smooth execution and implementation of the program.” Moreover, ALPs allow children to use their imagination and discover an exciting and important connection with real-world applications.
Regarding future plans, Bhalla informs that they have invested significant effort in developing a very strong and unique product for 5 to 8 years old (Tweak). It is a product developed with an aim to ever-growing STEAM market across the world and has the potential to establish Avishkaar as a STEAM product leader at least in Asia. “The next two years we shall focus on consolidating our position as the leader in STEAM products in South Asia and opening up avenues for us in various international markets so that we can reach our rightful destiny of becoming the number one player in STEAM products in Asia, Africa and Middle East in next five years,” reveals Bhalla.
The company also laid a very strong foundation to develop a robust channel network, both within and outside of India.
Implementation: Atal Tinkering Lab
School: Government Higher Multipurpose Senior Secondary School, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) Incharge, Bilaspur, Dr Dhananjay Pandey’s, first exposure to innovation was at a training program in Raipur at the J R Dani Government School’s ATL. He set up the Atal Tinkering Lab with the aid of Avishkaar who were instrumental in helping him get things running and off the ground. Avishkaar also provided Dr Pandey a platform to showcase his innovations at Avishkaar Innovation Track receiving invaluable guidance on how to tinker/design new innovations. He also received an opportunity to visit Dubai to present his innovations on an international stage.
At first, it was quite challenging for him to motivate students to visit the Tinkering lab. Most of the students were from poor socio-economic background and did not attend school regularly. They were engaged in part-time contractual jobs to earn a living for their respective families and hence would attend school very occasionally. His fellow teachers from other schools, colleges and communities advised him to let go of the Tinkering Lab initiative in their school. However, who knew these negative remarks gave more strength to Dr Pandey.
Dr Pandey was determined to prove to his fellow colleagues, to Bilaspur, his state, Chhattisgarh and to the entire country, that government students from poor socio-economic background, when given an opportunity along with the right direction and coaching, could prove to be an outlier. “I live and breathe my Tinkering lab. I feel like I belong to this lab, and I am born to mentor students so that they can excel in life,” says Dr Pandey.
Within a span of 12 months, he established one of the most promising and outperforming ATLs of the country with the support and help of Avishkaar. Dr Pandey’s students have created wonderful social innovations and won prestigious accolades at both the national and international stage.
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