Underprivileged girls get lessons in robotics, coding

In conversation: Aditi Prasad interacts with students at one of her sessions.  

Thirty-three-year-old Aditi Prasad from Chennai is on a mission to bridge the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education. Her initiative, Indian Girls Code, is taking robotics and coding to underprivileged girls who are rarely exposed to such innovative and creative learning. With seven programmes currently ongoing in Tamil Nadu under the initiative, Ms. Prasad is grooming hundreds of girls to become future innovators.

On Friday, she will be in Mumbai to talk about her initiative and experiences at the ‘TEDxGatewaySalon: Breaking Barriers’ at Tata theatre in NCPA. Ms. Prasad, a lawyer who also holds a master’s in public policy, said, “Education is given a lot of importance in south India. When we tell the schools and parents about robotics, they show a lot of enthusiasm.”

In 2009, Ms. Prasad co-founded Robotix Learning Solutions, which creates personalised and interactive learning experiences with programmes like coding, robotics, app development, and other DIY activities. Her company works with 12 schools, where students between the ages of three and 12 spend an hour a week learning robotics.

“The learning experience is designed to be developmentally appropriate. For example, younger children learn through simple crafts material by creating structures, learning addition, multiplication and subtraction. For some children, we have created digital tools and kits that consist of sensors and circuits, which they are taught to connect and generate sound, light or get a small fan to run,” Ms. Prasad said.

While working in these schools, Ms Prasad observed that fewer girls participated in the activities. This gave birth to the Indian Girls Code. The first Indian Girls Code programme was started in an orphanage in Trichy, where 75 girls are learning robotics and coding free of cost.

Ms. Prasad said these fields are still looked at like an extracurricular activity in India, whereas countries like Australia have moved to make them a part of the curriculum. “We believe that technology is going to transform everything and children have to be exposed and equipped for this in future,” she said.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 12:17:09 AM |

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