Innovation on wheels: A mini bus that will host STEAM classes for kids
It was a regular day for kids at this Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation School with kids getting ready for their classes and corridors lined with children – till a bright and shiny blue bus made its way into the school ground.
As curious kids went about looking at it, it was not until the “Think Big Space” was formally inaugurated that the children got to see what was in store for them. If their twinkling eyes and broad smiles, as they walked into this bus, could tell a story – it would be a story peppered with anticipation, hope, joy and dreams. As the kids tried their hand at the stuff kept there – from Kindles, to 3D printers, to Echo devices etc with the help of Innovation coaches, it was heartening sigh to behold.
What is the Think Big Space?
The mobile Think Big space is an innovation bus comprising of work spaces where young minds give shape to their ideas working on disruptive technologies and in the process learn design & thinking skills leading to innovation. The objective of the program is to develop the spirit of innovation among children & youth from a young age, by giving ample opportunities for hands-on experimentation in different fields of STEAM - science, math, electronics, robotics, computer science - or just plain tinkering around. The program is aligned with the Government of India’s vision of promoting and nurturing a new Innovative India as well as the InCommunities’ objective of developing the tech workforce of the future.
About the AWS InCommunities STEAM program
AWS InCommunities already runs 10 STEAM labs in Government schools in Navi Mumbai. The Innovation Station is an alternative to the STEAM labs as many schools near AWS’ infrastructure locations in Navi Mumbai don’t have the required infrastructure/classroom space to set up STEAM labs. The Innovation station will enhance AWS’ ability to scale the STEAM program to thousands of students in the Navi Mumbai area. In addition to STEAM, the program will also encourage innovation and thinking out of the box and expose students to new age technologies like 3D printing, modelling, robotics, AI etc.
Building a spirit of innovation among kids
The program will reach out to 3000 students (Grades 6-9) every year in Navi Mumbai through this initiative, building a love for technology and innovation. The students will go through three levels of innovation training as part of the program and two dedicated innovation coaches will help students as they navigate the various levels of the program. Students reaching the third level of the program will be encouraged to participate in state/national/international science competitions. The mobile Think Big space will remain open on Saturdays for such students to work on their projects and the Innovation coaches will support them during the various stages of the competitions. AWS employees will participate in the initiative as volunteers, mentors and coaches.
Digital literacy and computer classes will also be conducted to students of Grades 4&5 as part of this initiative so that they are better equipped to proceed to the Innovation program in Grade 6. The bus is equipped with Echo devices to encourage enquiry based learning. Kindle devices have been included based on feedback and inputs from teachers to encourage reading in English. The Kindle devices which work in areas with limited connectivity will be enabled with translations to Marathi (the local language).