The Telegraph
Monday , July 7 , 2014
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Students’ date with robots

The first day of a robotics workshop at La Martiniere for Girls in May saw the girls struggling with motors, beams and light censors. But at the end of three days, they were adept at not just assembling a robot but also programming and navigating it through obstacles.

Five of the nine teams that participated in the workshop, including La Martiniere for Girls, qualified for the global round of International RoboCup Junior Competition presented by Indian RoboCup Junior Foundation. Tiro Nomura from Saitama University, Tokyo, judged the teams.

Lorraine Mirza, the principal of La Martiniere for Girls, met David Prakash, the chairman of the Indian RoboCup, in Bangalore. “Why not the east? I would like to host it in our school,” Mirza thought and soon enough she made arrangements to host the workshop and competition in Calcutta, in association with St. Augustine’s Day School, Barrackpore.

The students had to build autonomous robots and not remote-controlled ones, programme the robots and manoeuvre them through obstacles. “The robots have got sensors to sense the obstacles and avoid them,” Prakash said.

And then, as Mirza said, “it was time to test how much you (the students) have learnt and to pick out the teams that are going for the national competition”.

“On the first day, it was torturous for us and it took us three hours just to assemble. But over the next three days we learnt the programming as well,” said Nilakshi Padhi, a Class IX student of La Martiniere for Girls who was part of one of the teams that qualified for the national competition.

Four-member teams from South City International School, Mahadevi Birla World Academy, St. Augustine’s Day School, St. John’s Diocesan Higher Secondary School, La Martiniere for Girls and Boys and others took part in the workshop.

G.S. Rautela, the director general of National Council of Science Museums and the chief guest, urged the students to follow their passion. “Don’t be guided by peers or what your parents are pushing you to. If you like to build robots, build robots. If you want to write a poem, write poems. But follow your passion.”