The week-long summer camp aimed to create an interest in engineering.

A group of students, including a few in their pre-teens, stands around a cutting machine as one among them starts operation. The task is to bend a metal rod to specification. Supervising them is a worker of G.D. Naidu Charities, Coimbatore.

The 15-odd members observe keenly as the youngster in control of the machine bends the rod. A couple of members, who already have the bent rod, pass on their suggestions. They then start playing around with the metal piece on a familiar puzzle.

For a week

The group is there to participate in the week-long summer camp the Charities has been conducting this May.

Manager of the Charities A. Balakrishnan says the aim of the programme is to demystify and create an interest in engineering.

The students learn about metals, woods and electronics. They also get to know the basics of aero modelling and visit a factory.

Between 9.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. the camp participants cut, drill, bend, shape and do many things with metals and wood.

They also get to take home not only knowledge and memory but also products they complete as part of the camp project.

“We teach them to make solar toys, simple, household electronic items, wooden showcase items, a few more, which they can carry home,” says the manager.

Solar toys

The highlight of the goods the students take is solar toys. “We teach them to assemble small bicycles, helicopters, windmills and discs that move once exposed to sunlight.”

In electronic sessions, the students learn about printed circuit boards, soldering and all fundamentals. They work on calling bell, remote control, and clap switch as well.

All this happens without pen and paper. “The aim is not to burden students with theory but give hands-on experience so that they enjoy what they are doing. And, in any case, that is not the aim of the programme,” Mr. Balakrishnan explains.

So far, the Charities has conducted three such camps and the feedback has been better than expected.

“My son never visited our factory; he was disinterested in the tools. But after the camp, there is a discernible change in him. At every machine he stops by, he has a dozen questions to ask,” says a parent.

Senniappan, father of participant S. Arunasree, says, ever since his daughter attended the camp, she has been “nagging” him to get her a kit to assemble electronic items.

Next year too

Another youngster says he will return next year to learn more.

Mr. Balakrishnan says a majority of the participants want to extend the programme to a fortnight.