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10th May 2002 - Page 5
The Robotics Club of IIT Kanpur (called BRICS) visited our school over three days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) and held a workshop for 20 students. A summary:

On the first day, we were divided into groups and each group was asked to come up with an efficient idea for making a fully functional boat using a DC motor and junk - like bottles, tin etc. (much like the popular show junkyard wars on discovery channel). Each group was supposed to keep in mind the following factors: -
1. Every boat must have a design to minimize drag and maximize thrust.
2. The boats must be stable so that they do not topple over when running at their maximum speed.
3. The juniors could make a unidirectional boat (one that cannot turn). But, any two groups could make a boat using two motors, so that it can turn.
4. The boats had to be designed such that, when the boat reaches the shore, it should park parallel to it.

The group from class 12 (Siddharth Jain, Aatish Bhatia, Abhishek Narula and Pankaj Bajaj) came up with an great idea of a bullet boat (their boat was the propeller itself, which propelled itself forward at a terrific speed, much like a bullet). However upon placing it in the water, the boat seemed to have a mind of its own.

VVS Students 
like to play 
with BRiCS

A group of girls from class 9 also came up with a very ingenious idea which used an air propeller (like a windmill) to glide it across the surface of water.

After a much exciting first day, everyone set down to actual robotics using the Lego Mindstorm kit (7 of which have been recently bought by the school, though one has been vandalized in a shameful incident). These kits are much more advances than the lego kits of our childhood days. They include a microcomputer that is beamed down its program from the computer. So programming is as much a part of the robot as construction is. Even though the creative brains of Vasant Valley school came up with some mind blowing ideas, only a few could implement their ideas. But, this is not too bad, because it was their forst time after all. 
However there were a couple of excellent ideas, which managed to impress the tough minds of IIT as well. Leading these ideas was that of the group from class 12. They made a plotter (a robot that could plot the graph of light intensity in a room as the light sensor attached to it moves 

about). They also made the plotter plot the graph of simple functions like the sine and cosine function.

The group of class 9 again impressed everyone with their creativity when they designed a robotic 'grabber' mounted on a car, which could move toward any object and grab it.

On day three, initially, all groups wrapped up their projects and demonstrated them to their curious friends in their respective classes. 
After that, all groups set down towards working on another project assigned to them by the IIT team. However, the group from class 12 continued on their project to build something quite amazing, which even impressed the IIT team.
They modified their plotter into a scanner and copier, which could scan any drawing made on a roll of paper. This scanned information would be sent to a writing arm, which copied it down onto another roll of paper with a felt tip pen. The model was made entirely out of lego excepting the pen and two rolls of paper. 
All in all this was a very inspiring workshop; it left me yearning for more even when the three days were over. We hope that BRiCS holds more seminars like this in the near future.

Siddharth Jain

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