The present Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi has proved himself to be a visionary by proposing the Atal Tinkering Laboratories for the schools across the nation. He is living his slogan “Nayee Dishaye, Nayee Soch, Naya Nirman” by following the footsteps of Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who dreamt of young Indians transforming into innovators and scientific thinkers. As the words suggest – “Tinker”, which means to enjoy experimenting and working with machines, the young Indians at their school would be provided with an area to keep tinkering and become Neoteric Innovators.
The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is an initiative by NITI Aayog, which is named after Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is a progressive step to foster young minds that are brimming with new innovations. The AIM under the flagship of NITI Ayogya has laid the foundation of the Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL), to explore the potential hidden in the millions of young Indians at schools across the country. The Atal Tinkering Labs’ main purpose is to embark the new journey of students, from the traditional Indian school’s rote learning style to a technology-based innovative and creative hands-on learning system of education. The ATL empowers students of class 6 to 12 and their respective teachers and enables them to explore their potential beyond any limits. It also acts as a support system by providing a self-learning platform.
To nurture young students to become innovators and scientists, if a school is selected by the Indian Government, it receives a grant of up to 20 lakhs which is to be used only for the specified purpose and within the stipulated time, which is 5 years. The amount is to be divided into equal halves. The first half of 20 lakhs is to be invested into maintenance and operational expenses while the other 10 lakhs are for capital expenditure. Let’s see how a school can get Atal Tinkering Lab set up at the place.
A perfect guide to establish an ATL at your school – A brief
If a school wishes to set up an ATL, it has to go through a selection process devised by the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). The schools have to go through a rigorous challenge-based selection process that is designed and implemented by AIM. Here, the schools are screened and selected or rejected as per the application they fill online. This application is sent to the AIM through the website-portal.
Once the submission is over, the school is screened and tested for the next step. If it passes the test, the school is selected for the Government grant of 20 lakhs. Before this, the school has to complete all the required documentation and the compliance process of the Public Finance Management System (PFMS). It is only after the successful documentation that the school is liable to receive the grant. Once the government aid is granted to the school, the ATL can be established there to mold the young and raw minds into expert innovators and scientists, who have enough space to work and experiment on their ideas, but only by following the AIM guidelines.
Elaborate steps to develop ATL at school
Once the selection process is over and the school gets the funds from AIM, it prepares to establish the Atal Tinkering Lab in the premises. The process of establishment is divided into five easy steps given below.
- To develop a comprehensive plan for the ATL
- Preparing the Organizational Structure for the ATL
- Identifying and setting up space for the ATL
- Appointing and allocating human resources for the ATL
- Procurement of tools and equipment for the ATL
Let us understand each step separately.
To develop a comprehensive plan for the ATL
This step is very important as it makes it easy to execute the plan once it is penned on paper. It shows all the elements of the ATL including the organization structure. But the key elements to be covered in this step are Functional Area, Human Resources Content to be used in the lab, Tools and Materials and Time Management.
- It is important to develop the functional area in such a way that it can be used as a physical workspace as well as a classroom.
- The appointed human resource should be well-trained and experienced people.
- Content should be as per the AIM guidelines. The content should be constantly updated and should have the ability to engage and motivate the students.
- The tools that are placed in the ATL, should be as per the content and the requirement of the on-going topics.
- Each session at ATL should be managed in terms of time. Every moment should be best used in implementing the ideas and thoughts of the tinkers under the expert guidance of the faculty.
Preparing the Organizational Structure for the ATL
- After making a good plan and strategy, the school should set up the organization structure which includes teachers and mentors who have the ability to contribute to the ATL and development of innovators.
- It is mandatory to build an ATL Advisory Committee (AAC) to monitor the functioning of the ATL as per the AIM guidelines. The AAC representatives should include the Chairman or Principal, Vice-Principal or Senior Teacher, ATL- in charge and a group having local industry representatives, alumni, students, and at least two parents.
- It clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of each member of AAC.
- Each member will have an assigned task as per the AIM guidelines. Like the principal or the vice principal shall look after the monitoring of the ATL-in charge and smooth functioning of the ATL. The industry representatives shall arrange some informative sessions for the students.
Appointing and allocating human resources for the ATL
- It is the responsibility of the Principal to appoint a teacher or a person who has a passion for innovation. The appointed people should be well-educated and well-experienced in their respective fields.
- Most importantly, they should be passionate about Tinkering and should be able to facilitate the students at ATL.
- It will be added advantage if the recruited people have past experience of working at any ATL. They will be able to foster the environment for young innovators to dwell.
Identifying and setting up space for the ATL
- As per the AIM guidelines for schools to have ATL, there should be an area of 1500 square feet for plains and 1000 square feet for hilly regions.
- There should be sufficient space for students to work and a computer lab with an internet connection is mandatory.
- A conference room or a meeting room should be allotted space to have real-time chat with experts.
- The ATL should be within the school premises as the students shall visit the lab anytime.
- It should be well-ventilated and should be well-equipped.
- There should be sufficient and comfortable seating arrangement for at least 25-30 students.
Procurement of tools and equipment for the ATL
- The ATL at the school should be well-equipped. It is advisable to purchase tools that are required and are generic.
- All the equipment should be placed safely on shelves or cupboards. And each should be labeled correctly.
- Ensure that there is a person who understands the functioning of the tools that the school purchases.
- Students’ safety should be a priority. So, cheap tools or equipment should never be purchased.
- Regular maintenance should be done for all the tools.
What else should you know about ATL at your school?
Developing an ATL at the school is just one aspect of the great initiative. It is important to monitor functioning also. Taking the government grant and setting up the lab will not cater to the needs of the tinkers. It is important that the students get sufficient time and hands-on training in the lab.
It is equally important to maintain the ATL at the school. The AAC has to closely monitor the safety and security concerns, the inventory, information management, documentation and even financial management.
All this together will surely build a stronger India, where the young minds will not be job seekers, rather they will be job creators. There shall not be any more outsourcing of the potent Indian. These young tinkers will strive to make India potent itself. The vision of Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the wisdom of Late Shri Abdul Kalam and the earnest drive of Shri Narendra Modi will surely take India towards progress and undoubted success with 1 million Neoteric Innovators.