The inception of Atal Tinkering Labs was a watershed moment for the Indian Education system. Owing to such labs, myriad of students are now coming forward to innovate something revolutionary with the help of scientific equipment available to them.
There is still some opacity among various educational institutions regarding the setting up and functioning of these labs. We have attempted to resolve these confusions by discussing all major aspects of Atal Tinkering Labs in India.
To promote a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across India, Indian Government’s Think Tank Niti Aayog launched its flagship program Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). This initiative is instrumental in streamlining the policies by the government that revolve around innovation. The concept of Atal Tinkering Labs in Indian schools is one of the primary offerings by AIM.
What are Atal Tinkering Labs?
Atal Tinkering Labs are workspaces in the schools where the students of Class Sixth-Twelfth can acquire innovative skills through hands-on learning. The Niti Aayog envisions nourishing one million students as innovators in the future.
The tools and equipment in the laboratories enable the students to learn multiple STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts. As a result, they are able to transform their ideas into reality. The equipment and DIY (do-it-yourself) kits are mainly related to the latest technologies, such as robotics, microcontroller boards, 3D printing, and sensors.
This initiative isn’t just limited to promoting the innovation culture by working in the labs. Numerous additional activities can also be conducted, including exhibitions and competitions at the national and regional level. To promote problem-solving among the students, workshops and lecture series can be conducted regularly. Screening of STEM-related films is often included by the educational institution. Niti Aayog also encourages the ATL schools to invite reputed speakers for talks on STEM education and entrepreneurship.
Financial support to the schools
Each school selected for setting up Atal Tinkering Laboratory in India receives a grant of Rs. 10 lakh from the Indian government for the establishment of the lab.
The school also receives a sum of Rs. 10 lakh separately for operating the lab over a period of five years. This amount is also used for the:
- Maintenance of the lab
- Lecture series
- Payments to the mentors and other professionals involved
The involvement from other institutions for financial support is also encouraged to further upgrade the ATLs. The Niti Aayog encourages local institutions and industries to be a part of this initiative by creating facilities and exhibits that are domain/subject specific. Recently, SAP Global had a tie-up with Atal Innovation Mission to adopt 100 ATLs across India.
Equipment in the labs
The Niti Aayog provides a comprehensive list of the equipment and tools to be purchased by the schools through the funds granted to them. These tools and equipment are segmented into four different packages:
Package 1: The kits and equipment related to robotics, electronics development, Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors are part of this package.
Package 2: This package constitutes rapid prototyping tools, including the 3D printer kit and tools, along with filament for the 3D printers. A set of arts & crafts accessories is also found in this package.
Package 3: All the electrical, mechanical and measurement tools come under this package. Some of these tools include pliers, screwdriver set, soldering iron kit and workstation for drilling.
Package 4: It comprises safety equipment, accessories, consumables, power supply, and a construction kit.
Innovations by the students
What differentiates an ATL from a science or technology lab is the fact that the focus is on interdisciplinary learning so that students can create something revolutionary.
To further accelerate the creation of groundbreaking ideas, the Niti Aayog had organized a six-month-long nationwide challenge called Atal Tinkering Marathon. The themes included clean energy, water resources, waste management, smart mobility, agri-tech, and waste management. Top 30 innovations from this challenge received various prizes, which also involved the three-month-long ATL Student Innovator Program (ATL SIP). These innovations include:
- A smart tap to monitor and purify water flowing through it
- Use of sewage water to produce electricity
- A smart lock system to avoid accidents, theft and illegal use of two-wheelers
- Air purification and monitoring system
- Waste cleaning robot based on ‘C’ Programming language
These and numerous other ideas highlight how the student working in these Atal Tinkering Laboratories can drastically improve the society we live in.
Eligibility Criteria for the Schools
Infrastructure: The school applying for the ATL must have 1,500 square feet of area. For the schools in hilly/Himalayan and island states, UTs, the minimum eligible area is 1,000 square feet. There should be facilities like a science lab, a steady electricity connection, a computer lab with internet, a library and a playground in the school campus.
Faculty: The school must have employed dedicated and qualified staff for Sciences and Mathematics.
Enrollments: A minimum of 400 students must have enrolled in Grades VI-X. For the schools in hilly states, this number is 250 students.
Attendance: The attendance of the students and faculty must be 75 percent or above in the last three years.
The selection process, which involves two rounds, takes around 10 weeks. The application form and deadline can be checked from here: http://aimapp2.aim.gov.in/.
Each school with Atal Tinkering Lab is supposed to constitute an advisory body to monitor the operations of the ATL. The AIM suggests the following members for this body:
- Chairman – Principal of the School
- Convener – Faculty-in-charge of the ATL
- Two Members – Alumni/reputed academia/young innovators/ representative from local industry or local community
- Two Members – Parents of the School Students
- The advisory body needs to conduct at least three meetings per year and is supposed to send the report of each meeting to AIM.
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We hope that this information will answer a lot of your questions. You can always connect with our representatives for more details on establishing or operating the Atal Tinkering Labs in India. Our representatives are available through: