‘My School’ from Tirur wins the second prize in the entrepreneurial category at the Roborave International competition in California. It was a learning experience for the students
(From left): Robotics teacher Sunil Paul, Ameesh Roshan, a NASA scientist, Aiza Noura, Manha Ziyaan, Vasudev Hari and Sherrin Mathew, Director-Academics of My School, Tirur
(From left): Ameesh Roshan, Vasudev Hari, Aiza Noura, Sherrin Mathew, Director-Academics and Manha Ziyaan at California
By Shevlin Sebastian
The moment the team from ‘My School’, Tirur entered the hall of the Santa Clara Convention Centre at California, for the Roborave International competition held recently there was an intake of breath. That’s because the group was wearing traditional Kerala attire.
While the boys, Amish Roshan Chirakkal and Vasudev P Hari wore brightly coloured shirts and white mundus, the girls, Aiza Noura and Manha Ziyaan wore the dhavani (half saree in off-white) and colourful blouses. As for the Director-Academics Sherrin Mathew, she wore an orange saree with a beaded green necklace.
“The participants as well as the visitors had never seen an attire like this before,” says Sherrin. “They found it unique. They came and touched our clothes. A few said, ‘How many metres is the saree? How do you wear it? Are you comfortable having so much of cloth covering your body? How does it hold up?’ They also wanted to know about the handloom material.”
The ‘My School’ team had come to participate in the entrepreneurial category. And they brought a very simple project. Says Class 7 student Aiza, “Our project was about water harvesting. In Kerala, we get a lot of excess rainfall, yet we face drought when summer comes around. That’s because we are not storing the water, purifying it, so that we can use it. Instead, we allow it to flow back to the sea.”
With the help of their robotics teacher Sunil Paul, who accompanied them to California, they made a prototype in which the water is collected in one section in an enclosure. The dirt particles are allowed to settle down. Then it is moved to the next section which has bits of charcoal. When the water goes through that, it is purified, and in the third section, the water is stored.
“It was a very simple project, and very cheap,” says Sherrin.
Meanwhile, the group was in for a shock. Some of the other projects were so sophisticated, especially the type of robots that had been made. “We realised we are way behind in terms of our knowledge of robotics,” said Aiza.
Students in the age group of 12-14 took part. And they came from seven countries -- the USA, China, Poland, Mexico, India, New Mexico and Spain. Overall, there were 42 participants. The judging was done by visitors.
And the winners were Indians Sri N and Sahasra C, who represented the USA. Sri is only in Class three but he had made a sophisticated robot. “He is so advanced in his knowledge,” says Sunil. “Sri has a bright future ahead of him.”
But the good news was that the ‘My School’ team won the second prize in their category.
Among the visitors, there were a few scientists from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), which is just 10 kms away from the venue. The next day the children were invited to come to NASA. Which they did. “It was very interesting to see the different exhibits,” says Sherrin.
One lesson the group learnt was the importance of robotics. “The knowledge displayed by the children of other countries was amazing,” says Sherrin. “We need to upgrade our studies, otherwise, internationally, we stand no chance.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)