Asha Impressions 2023 Asha Impressions 2023 Children’s Presentation & Programming Competition
Click here to see photos from the event and the training leading up to the event.
Asha Chennai is supporting 150+ government schools in Tamilnadu. At all these schools we send a computer teacher to teach computer science as well as teach Maths, English, Science etc. using innovative contents on the computer.
Our computer teachers teach 1st and 2nd std children the basics of using a computer. Third std children learn to use Tuxpaint a painting software suitable for young children. Fourth and fifth standard children learn about computer organization as well as OpenOffice a popular free office software which has a documenting software, spreadsheet and presentation. Sixth, seventh and eighth students learn how to use the Internet as well as programming using Blockly and Scratch.
Project work is an important part of our pedagogy. Teams of 4th and 5th standard children develop presentations using OpenOffice Impress. Teams of 7th and 8th std students develop programs using Scratch. The purpose of the project-work is not that of an assessment tool for evaluating the learning of the students. This is almost incidental. Project-work is an important teaching tool. We allocate almost one whole term for just the project work. Projects achieve education in ways that well complement the instruction-driven learning that we usually practice. Project work brings in goal driven learning (i.e. children learn things to achieve a goal which in this case is the project they have chosen) which works much better in fields like Computer Science which do not require mastery learning. i.e. Children do not need to know “all” the features of say OpenOffice. What they need is the confidence to handle even things they do not currently know.
Project work also teaches the children to work together in teams and it motivates them to create a good product. Further the Asha Impressions competition provides at least the selected teams an opportunity to learn skills required to present their thoughts to people and develop in them the confidence required to address a large group of people.
Previous Asha Impressions
Asha Impressions was held in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The intention was to hold it every year at the end of the academic year to showcase the best projects done by the students. However due to Corona we couldn’t hold one in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the academic year was short and our teachers were also catching up with the curriculum in Computer Science like was happening in every subject. The children weren’t able to work on their projects because of this.Thus the Asha Impressions in 2023 was something special for us happening as it was after a 3 year gap!
Presentations & Scratch Projects
There has been a significant jump in the number of presentation and programming project submissions. Here are the number of submissions from our various projects.
|Project||No of Schools||No of Presentations||No of Programs|
|Poorna Vidhya||8 schools||7||3|
To give you an idea of the huge jump in the numbers, in 2019, 90 presentations and 15 Scratch projects were submitted from 88 schools!
As it would not be possible to bring teams from Thoothukudi to Chennai for the Asha Impressions competition in Chennai, we are planning to have a small function separately in Kayathar for the Pearl project submissions. Our lead teachers took the 266 presentations and 29 programming projects submitted in the other projects and selected the best 60 presentations and 25 programs.
The next round of selection for the final competition was done by myself and Venkat Ramasamy, two volunteers of Asha Chennai. We found that the quality of the presentations was extremely good. This was clearly back on track after the Corona recovery. This year, many of the teachers had used the hyper-linking feature very effectively and made the presentation resemble things like websites and games!
The programming has also come along, a long way. There has been a big jump in the number of submissions. However most of the projects submitted were contact games like paddle and ball or catching falling apples or swimming and catching fishes. The most common type of program from previous year – telling a story though scenes and dialogues was also not common this year. The teachers are also learning more about the capabilities of Scratch through our trainings. The range of the projects will increase over the next few years.
Venkat and I selected 15 presentations and 9 programs for the final competition. We gave 50% weightage for the technical capabilities, 25% for the contents and 25% for aesthetics. 19 of the selected teams were from Sangamam, 4 from Thulasi and one from Poorna Vidhya.
Training the Selected Teams
The selected teams were announced on the morning of the 27th of April. The schools were closing on the 28th. This gave the opportunity for the teachers to communicate with their teams. For the next one week the teachers trained the children on how to present their presentation on the stage. Note while they learn the technology and contents, presenting it on the stage to a group of external judges is something the children need to be trained to do.
Many of the schools allowed our teacher to use a room in the school during this week. Some of the teachers did the training from interesting venues like local temples, homes of teachers and the Asha RTCs in the area. I visited some 10 of these teams to give them some pointers on how they can do their presentation. Here are some photos from my visits as well as from the training done by the teachers.
The children were very excited about coming to Chennai to show their work. This was like an excursion for all of them.
During this week the children at Seeyapoondi and our Sangamam teachers made gifts for the judges and others. The children made pen stands with palm leaf and the teachers made a beautiful wall-hanging with paper.
Asha Impressions 2023 at Amazon Chennai
When we discussed Asha Impressions with Amazon, they offered to host it in their office in Chennai! We were thrilled by this as this would be a great opportunity for the children. Amazon’s office was spread over several floors of the World Trade Centre a 28 storey building in Perungudi. We were sure the children would be very excited to see such a huge, modern office. This indeed proved to be the case. The event was held on May 5th.
Being a secure office, there were several challenges in bringing in 150 children and about 50 adults to the building. Amazon was extremely helpful in helping us organise all of this. They completely hosted the whole event. Here is an abridged itinerary.1. Children left from their villages between 4:00 am and 7:00 am depending on their location. Teachers had arranged for some breakfast for them to have on the way. Each team had 4 to 6 children, the Asha teacher as well as one government teacher from the school.2. Some 10 vehicles from various places ranging from Swift Desire to a mini-bus with 25+ children came to the Amazon office.3. Amazon arranged tender coconut water and jam-bun at their cafeteria for the children. Note their cafeteria was on the 20th floor. The children were amazed right on entry!4. Then in two different training rooms, the presentation and the programming competitions started at 10:15. There were 5 judges each for each event. All the judges were volunteers from Amazon.5. Children came back to the cafeteria for lunch. The buffet lunch was very good. Chicken Biriyani and the dessert were favourites for the children. 6. The competition continued till about 2:45. Then the judges met separately to select the winners.7. From 3:00 to 4:00 two directors at Amazon heading two of the main groups in Chennai, Mr. Raj Nagarajan and Mr. Palani talked to the children in the usual Amazon Class-chat format.8. Then we went back to the cafeteria for the final prize distribution function. Mr. Raj Nagarajan distributed the prizes.9. Amazon gave a sandwich and juice for them to carry on their way.10. The buses left by about 5:30 and took the children back. They reached their houses between 8:00 and 10:00 pm!
Amazon organised the event in a wonderful manner. Children thoroughly enjoyed themselves. From the hand-dryer in the restroom to the coffee machines to the view from the cafeteria, the children had an experience of a lifetime. Some 10 volunteers from Asha Chennai also attended this event. Here are some photos of the children at Amazon.
Presentation and Programming Competitions
The presentation competition was held in a large training room that could easily accommodate about 150 people. The programming competition was held in another training room that could accommodate 50 to 60 people. Each team was given about 15 minutes for the presentation and the Q&A that followed. Programming teams had a little longer – 20 minutes. In the programming competition, the judges had to try the programs themselves to understand how it worked. The Q&A in both cases tested the understanding of these children in the technology as well as the contents they were presenting. The weightage for the presentation or the program itself was only 40%. The greater weightage was for how they presented it and their understanding of the contents and technology which came out in the questions from the judges.
The children did very well answering these questions. Technical questions asked them to change the features in their presentation or change the behaviour of the program and the children faced these challenges even at their tender age with confidence. It was a joy to behold. Here are some photos from the competitions.
Judges in both the competition felt that all the teams did very well and they had to struggle to identify the best teams for awarding the prizes. The judges added a fourth consolation prize for the presentation competition. Here are the winning teams for the presentation competition.
First Prize PUPS Nandhimangalam Study TimeSecond Prize PUPS Athivakkam Siru DhaniyangalThird Prize PUPS Seethanjeri Mobile PhonesConsolation Prize PUPS Nallanpillaipetral Stone Age
Here are the winning teams for the programming competition.
First Prize PUMS Melmalayanur Fish hunting gameSecond Prize PUMS Ramanjeri Skip Building GameThird Prize Seeyapoondi Computer Centre Apple and bowl Game
One judge each from the presentation and the programming competition spoke about the competition. The judges and the guests were given hand-made mementos. Mr. Raj Nagarajan then distributed the medals, certificates and trophies to the teams.
And Finally …
The Asha Impressions was resuming after a 3-year break. Further almost half the teachers and schools in 2022-23 were new because of the big expansions in the number of schools from about 85 to over 150. With these we approached Asha Impressions 2023 with some uncertainty. When we saw the large number of presentations and programs submitted and their high quality, we became a lot more confident. During my visits to the school I could directly see that the students had actually learnt most of the things required for good project work.
The final event was a grand success in all fronts. The children and the teachers really enjoyed it. They enjoyed the facilities and they also enjoyed the food. Amazon had done a wonderful exercise in organising this event for us. The facilities team and the secretaries had taken a lot of trouble to organise every aspect of it. The judges also did a wonderful job. Despite a few of the judges not knowing Tamil, they interacted well with the students. The feedback from Amazon was also very good. The judges were thoroughly impressed by how much these little kids knew and how they were able to confidently answer all the questions. We hope as continuous computer science education reaches these children, the quality and quantity of the work continues to improve over the next few years. And hope to enjoy Amazon’s hospitality in hosting the coming years’ Asha Impressions as well.