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Nation Current Affairs 21 Feb 2019 Catching up with tec ...

Catching up with tech

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | VINOD NEDUMUDY
Published Feb 21, 2019, 2:07 am IST
Updated Feb 21, 2019, 2:07 am IST
Little KITES programme has made students creators of systems using IoT, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics.
Students at the Little Kite camp held in Kannur
 Students at the Little Kite camp held in Kannur

Selected Little KITE members were given an introduction to futuristic technologies and ideas such as Internet of Things, big data analytics and robotics at the two-day camps held in all the 14 districts. It was a primer for them; they look forward to more exposure to technology and the ways on working on it.

KOCHI: The training for Little KITE members held by Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) across 14 district headquarters on last Saturday and Sunday in advanced tech areas like the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and 3D character modelling has turned out to be a watershed event for them.

 

Students of state schools were an elated lot receiving such a grand exposure; parents, too, were in praise of the workshop.

"I was really excited to operate the fan and lights using voice and text messages," said Jose Thomas, a Class IX student from St Mary's HSS, Kuravilangad in Kottayam, who attended the workshop in Kottayam. “Now I can imagine how spaceships sent to Mars and Moon are operated from earth at a distance. My favourite subjects are space technology and robotics, and I hope to get advanced training in them.” He is among the 1200 students who participated in the camps across the state.

 "I created the animation of a bird flying," said Lulu Fathima, a Class IX student from JDT Islam High School, Kozhikode. "While drawing the picture, I could only see the 2D part of my work. But using Blender, I would see the 3D level of my drawing, seeing it from multiple angles, top-bottom-side. Through Blender, we are not simply drawing, but creating a new world instead."

Blender is a FOSS (free and open source software)-based 3D computer graphics software, with which students were able to create 3D character modelling, character rigging (creation of 3D models of the dining table, glass, cups and saucers, fruit basket, dining hall, etc.) and 3D animation (solar system, the flight of birds).

"Terms like IoT, big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics maybe some of the buzzwords on latest IT trends, predominantly in use by sophisticated industries.  Little KITES programme has not only taken the students in contact with such applications but also made them creators of systems using them. The two-day camp saw the students get trained in advanced skillsets in programming, electronics and animation, all on FOSS  platform," said K. Anvar Sadath, vice-chairman & executive director of KITE.

"When it comes to 3D Animation, the available software and applications in the market are not only high priced but are also proprietary which restricts any sharing/editing possibilities. Moreover learning these applications would be time-consuming since most of them are used by professionals and aren't meant for students," Mr Sadath said.

KITE, IT@School Project previously, has a proven track record of introducing FOSS-based applications in education. Over the years, it has successfully rolled out its versions of operating system IT@School GNU Linux, besides customising several FOSS-based applications such as Dr Geo, Rasmol, K-Tech lab, Geogebra, Chemtool and KalziumGNUKhata, as alternates to highly priced licensed proprietary software.

Students themselves designed the characters and created animation for them, an experience which brought immense joy to them with the sight of their works coming into life.

"The IT tool is not a substitute for the teacher," was the quick remark of Ivin Biju John, Class IX student of St Paul's HS, Nariyapuram, Pathanam-thitta district. "But if good IT teacher comes to guide you, you can work wonders."

"The world of animations was thrown open before me at the camp and in the days to come, it will intrigue me to bring forth something new," he said.

Similar to Blender, the camp also focused on mobile app development (torch app, QR Code scanner), electronic voting machines using Raspberry Pi electrobrik, IoT device model which enabled operating lights and fans in a network using sound signals and text messages, development of light applications using App Inventor and PyQtservers for creating server and client programmes required for this purpose.

Python programming was also taught at the camp for creating the coding for electronic voting machines and IoT device models. The students were able to create LEDs which light up automatically from the inputs from various sensors, voting machines using push button LED buzzers and Raspberry Pi kits, electronic voting machines which displayed the results within seconds of counting.

"KITE had rolled out the Little KITES programme last year with the aim of handpicking the skilful and talented students who excel in various domains, to be the leaders in the schools for bringing in massive changes using ICT in the school environment. The two-day camp was exclusively for the students who excelled in the sub-district level camps. The response from the students towards the output of the camp has been tremendous. There hasn't been a single moment that any students took a break, because they were so excited to see and create animations, robotics and much more," said Mr Sadath. "We brought animations into the IT curriculum after its pilot implementation in early 2011. By incorporating the experiences from the camp, KITE will provide an opportunity for all students to learn these two-day technologies like IoT, Robotics, AI and 3D Character Animation as part of ICT education.T he State level camp for the selected students from the district levels is planned to be held in May."

For the two-day residential training camp, KITE had made use of laptops deployed to schools as part of the Hi-Tech school programme. A 1:1 ratio of laptops per student was maintained for the camp, which ensured focused attention to each student. The training also used the Raspberry Pi kits and electro brik kits which the State government had deployed in schools.

Parent Boban Kizhakethara from Aluva said that the Little KITE training boosted the creative thinking of students.

"My daughter got training in animation software, and I am looking forward to the days when it transforms the life of her who is an artist," he said.

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