Why Do We Need to Set Up Atal Tinkering Lab in Every School in India?

Before we begin unravelling how you can set up Atal Tinkering Lab is, let’s talk about what the word tinkering means. Tinkering is at the heart of an ATL lab and forms the crux of what transpires within. If we go by Cambridge Dictionary, tinkering means, “to make small changes to something, especially in an attempt to repair or improve it”. 

Tinkering is so much more than simply repairing or making cosmetic changes to an object. It requires focused and concentrated effort on one’s part. To tinker is to breathe life to one’s idea. It means to mould your vision into reality. You get the picture. 

And it’s not just limited to going hammer and tongs with your screwdrivers, pliers, soldering irons whatnot. Tinkering involves making art with your paintbrushes, gluing together a paper plane, 3D printing a Deadpool model or even editing your photobook on PhotoShop.

In a nutshell, tinkering is about getting your hands dirty, learning from your mistakes, exploring new things and being unafraid to fail.  

Importance of STEM Education

To explain STEM succinctly, it refers to a curriculum rooted in the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics imparted through an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Herein, rather than treating the four disciplines as separate and distinct subjects, they’re taught in a holistic manner. This is done by integrating them in a cohesive learning curriculum based on real-world applications. 

Why STEM Education?

STEM education opens up new avenues of learning for students where they can apply scientific methods in everyday life. It helps kids develop critical thinking skills, ask questions, increases science literacy while enabling the future generation to become innovators. 

As per a recent study, employment in STEM occupations grew by a massive 16.5 percent. This is 1.6 times higher than the growth rate in non-STEM jobs. 

What is an Atal Tinkering Lab? 

An Atal Tinkering Lab is a workspace wherein you have various tools and equipment at your disposal to foster innovation. The brainchild of NITI Aayog, Atal Innovation Mission was launched in 2016 to “promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country”. The vision for establishing Atal Tinkering Labs was to “cultivate one million children in India as Neoteric Innovators”. 

Learn more about setting up an ATL lab here.

Why do Schools Need an ATL Lab in their School?

Establishing an ATL lab in schools is a step towards creating a holistic environment where students can immerse themselves in learning new ideas, concepts and scientific laws in a practical and safe manner. Through an Atal Tinkering Lab, the school introduces the concept of STEM education through a specially designed curriculum. 

As per the STEM School Study conducted by the University of Chicago, eight essential elements were identified that every STEM school should replicate. Of these eight, six were classified as core elements:

  • Problem-based Learning
  • Rigorous Learning
  • School Community and Belonging
  • Career, Technology, and Life Skills
  • Personalization of Learning
  • Connection to the Broader and External Community

And two as supporting and contributing elements:

  • Staff Foundations
  • Essential Factors

Benefits of Setting Up an ATL Lab

A school reaps several benefits when it set up an Atal Tinkering Lab. You propel your students to develop scientific temper and skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning and more. Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • Encourages risk-taking: In an Atal Tinkering Lab, students experiment, observe, develop ideas and take risks. By learning about the vicissitudes early on, children can have an easier time of not letting failures define them and be disheartened by them. It is crucial that they understand that failure is a part of life and giving up is not an option.
  • Teaches the value of teamwork and collaboration: Each one of us has different skill-sets and strengths. By pooling together their talents, students can learn to work effectively and collaborate together to create new ingenious inventions.
  • Application of knowledge: If one cannot apply their theoretical knowledge effectively in real-world scenarios, then the purpose of an ATL lab would be defeated. Children are taught different scientific concepts and principles and encouraged to test their hypotheses.
  • Improves problem-solving skills: An ATL lab is a place where students learn about solving problems by first analyzing them and then working out a solution. This is instrumental in augmenting their problem-solving skills while also ingraining an attitude of looking for answers rather than becoming fixated on problems. 
  • Encourages adoption of new technological innovations: We can say one thing for sure that in today’s times’ technology is advancing at an exponential rate. Students are comfortable with new technologies and in most cases end up being early adopters. Having an Atal Tinkering lab breeds familiarity and teaches kids to be proactive users of technology.