Day 18: The first of many (mBot 1)

This is it. My first teaching trip. Let's have a round of applause for our newest member, Timothy!

He's well and healthy, completely recovered from his food poisoning a few days back. My journey starts in Kota, a town in Negeri Sembilan, which for one is a Sekolah Agama, and I have not set foot in one before. Questions circled my head, I was curious as to how the students interacted, how would they perceive us, and how they would react to the Mbots.

The Mbots are these cute tiny little critters that you could program to do your bidding. It has the complete package; twin DC motors to provide 2D mobility, ultrasonic rangefinders, wifi modules, LED's and everything else you could ever want with a toy robot. It's the ultimate kid roboticist starter pack. What happens when you pair up pretty modern technology with a rural religious school? Well, none of us mentors knew the answer to that, and we're about to find out.

The school was located a good 1 hour drive away from Seremban. The journey there was filled with trees left and right, and the narrow road was filled with a few cars heading towards Malacca. This road was how people used to travel in between states before the highways was created. Upon arrival, we saw how beautiful the school was; It was your typical school architecture set in a village-kampung like setting. Vast fields of grass surrounded the school, giving it a very peaceful feel. We were greeted by the teachers, and students helped us carry our items to the place. The tables were arranged in a conference style which was unique to the place.

Khayhen started introducing the robots, and as he was speaking I decided to tease the children by slowly introducing the robots to them. The moment of unveiling was unbelievable. As I opened the large container to take out the smaller robot box, I could feel all the attention circling the robot box. Slowly I opened it and drew out the mbot, all the while feeling the pressure of the stares on it. The children were captivated, and you could tell that they were eager to have their hands on it.

In a short sentence, the students were amazed at what they could do. The pictures would tell you what it looked like. I felt that it was amazing that the children were so focused into their work, and for the most part, they didn't really need help at all, they were self-sufficient! The teachers themselves were also intrigued by the robots, and joined in on the fun. The competition was the epitome of the day, where the students use their wits and skills to rise as champion. Their robots could not only be controlled by wifi, but it could also flash LED's and play sounds as it moved. Talk about creativity.

After the competition, they crowded around the 3D printer, a machine that they have never seen before. Some of the students even asked for my contacts as quite a number of them were interested to pursue this further. That's our goal for this road trip, to be the inspiration that hopefully would be start to an entirely new chapter of their lives. Go kids. You can do it. :)


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