The Master Minds Strike Again!

Our fabulous Master Minds recently participated in the regional competition of RoboCup Junior 2016 on the 12th of November 2016, in the On-Stage Performance Category. The MasterMinds used a total of 3 Robots: a Keyboard Player, Drummer and a Conductor.


How did the performance go? Very well of course. Since we do not have a video to show, here’s a short description of the 2-minute show. First, the drummer started with beats of a lower tempo and then slowly picked up the tempo. After a 3-second pause, the keyboard Player fingers the notes of the Birthday Song, on getting directions from the Conductor. As a finale, all three performed in sync to play the National anthem.

All three Robots were programmed to speak and coordinate with each other using ‘Blue Tooth’.

Out of the 11 participating teams, our team came 3rd overall, and, no surprises here, even  won the award for the ‘Best Robot Design’! They used string puppetry (Robotic mechanisms to control the strings) to present the given theme. They will soon be competing at the national level competition scheduled to be held in January 2017.



The team ended their performance amidst thunderous applause and appreciation from the audience. They’re known for coming up with new ideas and doing something unexpected, thus keeping their fellow participants wondering what’s up their sleeve next.

We wish them all the best for the upcoming Nationals!

How the coolest robot in India went all the way to Leipzig.

In 2013, Akshara Foundation with support from the Lego Foundation, set up a robotics lab in a government school, in Bangalore.

It’s overwhelming to see how the children have progressed from not being able to turn ON and turn OFF the computers to gaining the expertise in building Robots and programming it using computers.

Just over 2 years later, in February 2016, these geniuses from the Seva Bharath Trust, made us all proud. Fighting against all odds, they were recently placed First in the ‘Dance’ category of the Robocup Junior National level Robotics competition and fourth among 39 teams in the First Lego League 2015 national competition, earlier this year.

This gave them the opportunity to represent INDIA at the International level of the Robocup Junior competition in July 2016.

Here’s a look at their innovative robot, the E-bot Max that won them the 1st place.


Meet the team behind the coolest robot in India – the Master Minds.


From left to right: The Instinctive One (Ameenuddin), The Collaborator (Balachandra), The Mechanic (Aravinda Reddy), The Thinker (Lawrence), The Silent Programmer (Ramesh) and The Challenger (Ramakrishna).

And their achievements haven’t gone unnoticed. They have driven Local and national media into a frenzy with their accomplishments!

But these young geniuses remained unfazed with all the limelight on them. All they wanted to do was prep for the next step, their next competition in Germany. They walked in to the lab every day, rolled up their sleeves and immediately got to work on bettering the E-bot Max.

As a small tribute to these WHIZ KIDS, Akshara Foundation created a video that highlights them at their creative best.

robotics video image

After an action-packed fundraising quarter on Ketto, E-bot Max and the Master Minds, finally made it for the International RoboCup Junior Competition that was held at Leipzig from June 29 to July 3, 2016.

Initially, a 6-member team was supposed to go. But the challenges in getting their passports kept us swinging from courts to government offices, till finally it was time to leave and just three had managed to overcome all those hurdles.

While the Master Minds just about missed out on an award or two, they definitely did not fall behind on all the cheering, encouragement and positive feedback.
“It was a fabulous first time effort”, as quoted by one of the organisers.

You can follow their entire journey at Leipzig here and here.

That’s all that matters, as long as they’ve come back richer with experience and had fun while at it. All this goes to prove that given an opportunity, anyone can reach for the stars.

A future in robotics starts by winning the zonal RoboCup Junior Competition.

Yesterday, the 8th of November 2015, was a robotastic day for the kids of our Robotics Lab.

Three teams from the Vivek Nagar Government School in Bangalore participated in the South Zone – Robocup Junior Competition held at St John’s High School, Frazer Town.


It goes without saying that these bright sparks outdid themselves in both the categories that they participated.

The mission under the RESCUE category was to locate victims of a natural disaster from a building, where the rescue personnel in place needed robotic assistance in dangerous areas.


The Robot had to be fully autonomous and carry out the mission with no help. It even went over rough terrains (speed bumps in this case), without getting stuck.  When the robot finally found the victim, it carefully transported them to a safe area, where human intervention could take over.

Two out of the 26 teams fighting for this mission were from our Vivek Nagar School. Both these teams stormed through to the finals, bagging the 3rd and 4th place in the qualifying round.

But it was the team participating in the DANCE challenge that stole the show. The challenge: a robot designed, built and programmed by the team had to dance along with the entire team.This includes a whole range of possible performances, for example dance, storytelling, theatre or an art installation. The performances could include music if they wanted. Teams are encouraged to be as creative, innovative and as entertaining as possible. Sounds too hard to be true? Check out what these rockstars did for yourself.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.56.31 AM

We came FIRST in this category. The children built a humanoid that can make moves supported by background music, and of course a great fan following. There was a lot of hooting and cheering, followed by a thunderous applause. 


This is but a small high in their road to the finish. Undeterred by the wins of the day, they now have their eyes set on the big win. Determined to perform better than last time and win at the finals in January next year, they were already seen discussing what needs to be tackled next. All the best champs!

“Way Cooler Than The Robotics Lab In My School!”

A few weeks ago, I visited a government school in Viveknagar, Bangalore to see how they learn in India.
The school has a Robotics Lab. I saw how they build their robots and it was very cool! I also admired them, because they let me help them with their robots.


They had built a spinning top robot, a drumming monkey robot and a robotic boat to name a few.
I made friends with a boy named Kevin Joseph. He is a very good builder and we built a robot together.

Thanks to Akshara Foundation and Mr. Sridhar for running the lab.


– By Omkar Tharuvesanchi

3rd grade

Washington GT Elementary

Raleigh, NC



I was not conducting any formal classes for the 3rd and 4th standard kids. But I did allow them to come fiddle around every now and then…

Most of the time I had to come up with excuses, telling them that they could use the Robotics lab when they came to the 5th standard. Because that’s how the Robotics Programme is structured.

Today I reached the lab very early. A few 3rd standard kids had also come as early. They requested me to allow them to build something. Since there were only three students and ample time before class, I asked them to sit together at one computer.


At the most, I knew I might have to reinstall some software. And so I just observed them. They confidently turned on the computer and were trying to open the LEGO WeDo software… but they did not know that all it took was a double click of the icon.

I showed them how to do a double click by tapping on the bench. They opened the software and without any further guidance, reached the robot building guidelines page. They chose to do the first Robot on the list.


After a few trials and errors, they finished building the Robot.
Their faces reflected the sheer joy they felt…

So again, these kids are proving me wrong, sending the message loud and clear, that their capacity is beyond my imagination.


The Robotics Programme has so far been restricted only to the children of standard V and above. Today’s amazing incident has prompted me to begin formal classes for the 3rd and 4th standard children too.

– Sridhar P.

Sridhar heads our robotics programme in the government schools and ever so often has more than one inspirational anecdote or two.

IN AND OUT OF CLASS – the change makers at IISc Alumni Global Conference 2015.

The recently concluded IISc Alumni Global Conference, Bangalore, was a celebration of coming together, reliving old times, reconnecting with friends and of taking a forward look at how the alumni could transform lives.

IISc alums, who at one point pursued lucrative career options or left India to achieve success abroad, are now helping poor students in the country. The meet brought together several distinguished people to deepen the collective understanding of the ways and measures to make learning a better prospect.

It also put the spotlight on a versatile global community of IISc alums who are helping communities in the country to learn better.


Nurture the School that Nurtured You (NSNY), a programme started by the IISc Alumni Association of North America (AANA), has adopted 15 schools in different parts of the country and is working towards making learning a better prospect. Prof Arkal Shenoy, nuclear scientist and president of IISc AANA, was among the first to sponsor a programme in a government school in Ujire about a month ago.

Nasa scientist of Mars Curiosity fame, Dr Gajanana Birur had adopted schools near his home town Birur in Chikmaglur district 10 years ago. He has also adopted a government school in Bovipalya near Rajajinagar in Bengaluru. “It has only 45 students as the area now has developed from when I saw it decades ago and parents prefer private English schools. I want this school to become a symbol of desire,” said Dr. Gajanana.

It is here through his own story and that of the children at Viveknagar Government School, that Sridhar, who is in-charge of Akshara Robotics Lab, talked about creating value and addressing questions that are both urgent and daunting.


Robotics labs in schools where almost exclusively the children of poor study, are unheard of. Into this, Akshara brought in the idea of structured creativity in a lab under someone who could deal with robots and children, knowing the difference.

It is here for these kids our very own Sridhar, an IISc alumni, found it worth his while to junk his cushy job and instead work in an atmosphere where he has to stack carton-boxes over one another to place his laptop since there is no table of proper height. Together, school children and Sridhar, create enough enthusiasm for the robotics classes to become a craze where students vie with each other to take a seat, and hands go up with lightning speed when ‘robotics’ sir’ asks a question.

A story of hope and inclusivity – also a story of the way forward. This is a story that needs to be told, to be shared to be narrated by each one of us… and we are happy we had the opportunity to share it at the IISc Alumni Global Conference, 2015. It’s just a matter of time before we see a social change brought about by the difference makers who believe in their own potential and remove barriers to create a more inclusive world.

Thank you, IISc for giving us Sridhar.

N.B. – Two weeks ago, inspired by the way Sridhar has introduced government school kids to robotics, Dr Gajanana Birur has set up a robotics lab at an education centre run by social activists in Chettanahalli, a small village between Birur and Tarikere. In his own words – “I have now realised that robotics helps imbibe a spirit of curiosity and I have seen it work through the work of another alumni, who is working with a school in Bengaluru.”

Read more @

Authored by writer@educationjams

Akshara’s efforts to better Anganwadis in North Karnataka

Steady Progress

The team reports state that steady progress is being made in the 109 anganwadis in Hubli and Dharwad in Akshara’s model anganwadi programme. Their efforts continue without let up every month, with regular monitoring visits, handholding of anganwadi workers, meetings with Bal Vikas Samithis and parents, and community interactions, and all this is having an impact. The community is more responsive and anganwadis are performing better.

“Akshara Always Comes up with New and Innovative Ideas”

The notable event of the year was the training. Akshara’s resource group trained Supervisors of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in the model anganwadi curriculum and LEGO activities. As Master Resource Persons, the Supervisors cascaded the training to all 109 anganwadi workers.

The team observed that the cooperation and participation of anganwadi workers was quite exemplary. But Supervisors who were the master trainers were busy with official work and the Akshara team had to put in additional effort to see the training through.

Day One opened with a discussion. Anganwadi workers were invited to talk about their experiences with the programme’s teaching-learning material (TLM) and how Akshara’s intervention was influencing them in their way of working. Most of the anganwadi workers said that they were reporting to work on time. Earlier, they used to be apprehensive of the Akshara team, but now they look on them as friends who unfailingly support them. This led to a frank interaction. The training team then conducted group activities as specified in Akshara’s Model Anganwadi Training Manual.

Day Two was all about LEGO – training in LEGO activities.  Anganwadi workers participated like little children, said the team. They prepared models and created scenes that reflected the concept of preschool. Everyone had a lot of fun. The team distributed LEGO kits to the anganwadi workers and gave them instructions on how to conduct activities for children in their centres.

Shaila Teminkoppa said “Akshara always comes up with new and innovative ideas. The LEGO kit is very attractive and children will enjoy it.”
Rhanath from Dharwad said “I did not know how to assign corners for different preschool skills or divide the teaching-learning material and facilitate activities for children. Initially, it was difficult, but now it is interesting.”
Shivaleela from Madarmaddi Circle said “Parents and children were attracted by the TLM provided by Akshara, but now everyone will be excited to see LEGO. Children will become regular in attendance.”

Community Interactions
The team held parents’ meetings in anganwadis in the presence of the anganwadi workers to demonstrate by example how to lead such engagements. The team introduced themselves and Akshara’s work. The teaching-learning materials were displayed and the team informed them of its uses in furthering learning. This was a strategy, and it worked – some of the parents came to realize the value of preschool education and ascertained from the anganwadi workers how they use the TLMs in the classroom and requested them to teach their children properly.

Household visits are forums for communication with the community and the team lays down a target every month. Their target was 300 households, and they visited 200, a 67% achievement rate. The message of education is seeping in, the team says.

Bal Vikas Samithis are slowly gearing to their function as community guardians of anganwadis. The team engaged Samithi members, holding 88 meetings, 88% of their target, making them realize their responsibilities towards anganwadis. They also held 5 community meetings and 42 self-help group meetings.

The team notes that their work in the community had to be scaled down in September as they were busy collecting the pre-test answer sheets from anganwadis and involved in the training.

A Room of Their Own

Saroja Patil from Jiddi Oni, Dharwad, has been running her anganwadi in a temple for the last five years. Devotees frequently streamed into the temple, creating a lot of disturbance, distracting the children and making it difficult for Saroja to conduct preschool activities. Akshara’s Cluster Facilitator, Suvarna Guthal, intervened and spoke to Bal Vikas Samithi members and parents.

She took it a level higher and met Shivanna Badvannavar, the Corporator of the area, and explained to him the anganwadi’s acute problem of space. She requested him to provide a room where Saroja could run her anganwadi. Suvarna did not stop there. She followed it up with the Corporator and took community members with her to advance Saroja’s case. Shivanna Badvannavar yielded and allotted a spacious room near the temple for the anganwadi.

Parents are happy, and as for Saroja and the children, they are revelling in a space they can finally call their own. The Department of Women and Child Development, under whose mandate the ICDS runs anganwadis, expressed its appreciation for the efforts put in by the Akshara team.

Generating Impact
Ratna, the Field Coordinator, has been holding regular community meetings in Bengari in HFWTC Circle, an area she is in charge of, and it has been impact-generating on a scale that took the team by pleasant surprise.

One of the days, Bal Vikas Samithi members and a few parents locked up the anganwadi in Bengari because the anganwadi worker and helper always arrived late. The community appealed to them to come on time, failing which they said they would repeat what they had done, lock them out of their anganwadi, and report the matter to higher authorities.

Discovering the 8th Wonder

The Makkala Habba was a huge success this year. With unparalleled enthusiasm from school staff, HMs, teachers, parents, students and volunteers the festival became a mega festival.  To mark the success of this mega festival we organized “8 Wonders”, an exhibition displaying the creative work of primary school students from across Bangalore as part of Makkala Habba.

One best model was selected from every school where the Makkala Habba was held. These models were then got to the Akshara office and exhibited on the 19th and 20th December 2013. Post Makkala Habba, everyone at the Akshara office was gearing up to decorate the office and display the exhibits for people to see.

The 1st floor of the office was the chosen place to display the exhibits. Once the exhibits were arranged the whole place looked like a sea of vibrantly coloured LEGO bricks. The Library team at Akshara along with some photography expert volunteers made picture collages of the various programmes. The picture collage of the Makkala Habba gave an overall view of the month long event.

“8 Wonders” was a huge hit with people thronging into the Akshara office to see the LEGO models and discover the 8th wonder. This was Akshara’s first ever exhibition on public display and with a response like this we are encouraged to organize many more.

Three winners were chosen. The runners up were GKHPS Amrutahalli and GKMPS Nagvara. The winners were GKTMPS Cleveland Town.

For all those who missed seeing the “8 Wonders”, take a look at all the action that happened at the Akshara office here.

Makkala Habba 2013: Creativity Unleashed

Saturday mornings in the last 4 weeks had not just been the most awaited one for many a students in Bangalore but also for the volunteers.  After all, it was the celebration of creativity in a different and an innovative way for most people involved.

These Saturdays have been an explosion of creativity and learning for students from 9 Government schools across Bangalore with over 3655 children participating. This year the “Makkala Habba” was held from the 16th November- 14th December 2013 in Bangalore. The Habba was one place where chaos, excitement, energy, ideas and imagination were running high.

 A Community Festival
Akshara has been creating programmes in the Pre-schools (Anganwadis) and Government Primary Schools with an intention to improve educational outcomes. The “Makkala Habba” is a community festival which aims at bringing the parents, teachers and students together. The involvement of the parents and the community ensure the betterment of both the school and the students. A festival like this also ensures that the parents and the school staff build a good rapport and work together.

What is the Makkala Habba?
Makkala Habba is a Community Festival in schools and pre-schools. The festival involves the active participation of the Parents, Teachers and Children to engage in creative LEGO brick activity in the school along with the volunteers.

The Habba uses the theme of LEGO model construction wherein Parents, Children, and Teachers are to be invited to play, and create a LEGO model in the school. This year the Habba had multiple themes. This year the themes were chosen on things the children see around in their surroundings. My ideal city, My school, the market, village fair, modes of transport, shopping mall were some of the themes chosen this year.

Children had to depict the theme using LEGO brick based model construction. The duration of the Habba in each school was two hours. However, in these two hours there was an exchange of ideas, thoughts, views, conversations which helped these children come up brilliant models. On the other hand, there was parent- teacher interaction which otherwise is a rarity.

The Habba was witnessed by senior Education Department officials at many locations. Members from School and Pre-School Monitoring Committees were also invited. Volunteers from Akshara Donors and Friends helped conduct the Habba at the various locations.

This Habba would not have been such a success had it not been for the various volunteers.  Huge thanks to the volunteers from CGI, Hewlett Packard, Hibu, Robert Bosch, I-Gate, Target and the Akshara Team for their help and support. The first edition of Makkala Habba wouldn’t be the same without the co-operation and help from all those involved. 

Makkala Habba is Here!

Festivities at Akshara continue with the much awaited “Makkala Habba”. This is a festival of learning, creativity and a get-together for the teachers, students and the parents along with volunteers. 

Children checking the LEGO blocks

What is “Makkala Habba”?
“Makkala Habba” is platform that brings teachers, students and the parents to interact with each other creatively under a single roof. Creativity is exhibited using Lego bricks to build stories around the model. “Makkala Habba” is all about getting teachers, parents, students at selected library schools in Bangalore to build a model based on the theme given. 
LEGO models made by children and parents.
“Makkala Habba” will be held from 16th November- 14thDecember 2013 in Bangalore.The 2 hours of Makkala Habba is going to be one place where chaos, excitement, energy, ideas and imagination are all running high. This year “Makkala Habba” will be celebrated in 12 schools with over 3655 children participating.
Join us as we celebrate creativity like never before! For more details to volunteer for the “Makkala Habba” write to us at
We are looking for volunteers to help us on 23rd November 2013.

Take a look at all the fun at the LEGO Habba 2012 here.