India - micro:bit workshops

Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand

In July 2018, Timeless Lifeskills Foundation a London-based educational charity conducted workshops in rural schools in the three States in India – Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where they introduced students to micro:bit, basics of coding, and robotics. Over a month, Timeless Lifeskills Foundation conducted around 100 workshops in 10 rural schools reaching 2000+ under-served students studying in grades 6-12.

To introduce the basics of coding, analogies and examples were used to make abstract concepts concrete: IF the teacher claps THEN you pull your ears; IF the teacher snaps her fingers THEN you scratch your head… this exercise got tons of laughter and nicely explained the If-Then-Else conditional statement.

3 students control robots with the micro:bit

The next exercise helped the students figure out that to go around a chair ‘one step forward, turn left’ instruction could be multiplied by 4 and in coding this is called a loop. With a basic understanding of coding, students then got hands-on with MakeCode and got their computer to belt out a few lines of their favourite Bollywood song.

A class of students programming in MakeCode

In the Robotics workshop, students started by playing with simple components like bulbs, LEDs, buzzers, and motors and conducted simple experiments like flipping the battery polarity to see its effect on different components. Later, when a robotic car was demonstrated by the instructor, the students were able to connect the dots and figured that to make the car go forward and backward, somehow the polarity of the motors was being flipped.

Such fun, hands-on activities draw the students into the world of STEM, Robotics, Internet of Things, and other exciting emerging technologies. Doing so is imperative because under-privileged students in rural Indian schools, who do not get too many opportunities to learn skills relevant in the 21st-century are especially at risk.

To bridge this divide, since 2013, Timeless Lifeskills Foundation has been working with rural schools in India – conducting life skills workshops, starting Tinkering Clubs, and STEM Labs.

A group of students assemble a micro:bit-powered robot
A group of students show off their micro:bit robots

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