Nurturing creativity among young minds

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Published: August 10, 2015 12:16:27 AM

A new science and innovation museum, established by Rashtrapati Bhavan with assistance from Intel India, aims at promoting new talent and innovators in the country

How do we excite curiosity among children? Encourage experiential learning and inspire them to innovate? Young visitors to the Rashtrapati Bhavan will now have access to ‘smart’ devices, built on the latest technologies, which will enable them to kindle their spirit of exploration. The Navachara (meaning innovation) museum, inaugurated by the President Pranab Mukherjee at the Presidential Estate has a compelling mix of information, scientific know-how and inspiring innovation designed to encourage young people on the path to scientific discovery and learning.

The Science and Innovation Gallery ‘Navachara Kaksh’ (room of new ideas) is part of the President’s favourite project of promoting new talent and innovators in the country and, after last week’s inauguration, it will be part of the Rashtrapati Bhawan’s guided tour. The museum has been set up with the assistance of global chip maker Intel.

This is the first such museum that Intel has set up apart from the one at its headquarters in the US. While Intel will initially manage the operations, the museum will eventually be handed over to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Intel officials informed that Navachara is a culmination of indigenous technology exhibits which will keep changing in our quest of inspiring innovation in India. “Across the year, we will solicit projects on new technology based innovations and selected makers will get an opportunity to feature their exhibits in this museum.”

A quick snapshot of some of the exhibits at the museum. The ‘Robotic Dog’ is sure to excite young students’ curiosity. Clumsy, as the dog is called, resembles a real dog, with the help of 16 Servo Motors that enable him to perform complex motor actions like walking and squatting; and sensors that allow him to see, touch, hear and see! Just like a brain, the micro-controller board takes inputs from these sensors and controls his movements! What is special is that Clumsy has been designed by a 17-year old talented school student from Panipat who has won prestigious awards at an international science competition.

Then, there is ‘Virtual Tabla’ which makes playing the drums as simple as moving your hand. Play the drums and hear its rhythmic sound without touching the drums at all! Sensors detect hand movements and play a corresponding sound with the help of microprocessors. Like the Robotic Dog, the Virtual Tabla has been created by a school student. “Most of these displays have been developed by youngsters in India. It is Intel’s endeavour to promote skill development and innovation among youngsters across the globe and India. For us it is an
important part of that effort,” said Kumud Srinivasan, president of Intel India.

Among other displays, ‘Stringless Piano’, similar to the Virtual Tabla, is a sensor activated device that creates music seemingly out of thin air. It has a wireless, touch-sensitive electric sound producer that responds to action mechanisms to sound like a regular piano. Ever heard of a ‘3D printer’? This one enables making a three dimensional solid object from a digital file by laying out successive layers of material until the entire object is created. The 3D printer is pre-programmed using the open-source Intel Galileo development board, which enables the printer to be customised in various ways to achieve different objectives.

The Virtual Tabla like the 3D printer, are testimony to the ease with which modern technologies facilitate innovation.

Both these innovations are built on the Intel Galileo development board; a micro-controller board that makes it easier for those without a technical background—whether it is be a school student, an artist, a designer or just a do-it-yourself enthusiast—to quickly prototype simple interactive designs such as LED light displays that respond to social media, or to tackle more complex projects from automating home appliances to building life-size robots
controlled by a smartphone.

The museum also has a ‘Talking Wall’ and a ‘Planet Wall’ intended to inform and encourage students on the path to discovery. An interactive audio-visual display will arouse curiosity about various discoveries and the mechanics of innovations. It gives information about national science fairs where students can showcase their talent and also features young geniuses, through the passage of time, who have earned international recognition through their ground-breaking research.

There is time for some fun at the end of the intense experience that Navachara is designed to provide. A visitor can click a selfie 3D-style with the President’s House as a backdrop! The Intel RealSense 3D camera is designed to sense a user’s head and hands in three dimensions to provide a natural and immersive interaction.

Nurturing an interest in design and discovery, cultivating an awareness of a do-it-yourself culture and instilling a creative confidence are small steps in building a robust scientific temper among tomorrow’s innovators.

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