By Jaideep Shenoy
The Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has selected Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management to host the grand finale of Toycathon 2021. This is an event conducted by the union government to promote the indigenous toy industry. Around 20 teams from different parts of India have confirmed their participation. MoE mooted the idea of a multi-track nationwide inter-ministerial toycathon based on PM’s idea of ‘Vocal for Local’ in the toy industry.
The Ministry of Education in coordination with five other ministries, namely the ministry of women and child development (MWCD), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the ministry of small and medium enterprises, and the ministry of textiles is jointly organising Toycathon 2021. The Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell at All India Council for Technical Education is acting as the nodal agency for organizing Toycathon 2021.
Amit Khare, Secretary, ministry of education says that “India needs to emerge as the global toy manufacturing hub in the future. We need to stress upon creating an ecosystem for the domestic toy industry and the local manufacturers, tapping the untapped resources and utilizing the potential. Working on the vision of the Prime Minister and considering the huge potential of our toy market, we can easily become “Atmanirbhar” in the toy industry”.
Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman of AICTE said, “National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 has placed a huge emphasis on innovation and experiential learning. Drawing inspiration from NEP, AICTE has been working closely with the MIC to conduct various hackathons to provide platforms for the young minds of the country to innovate, experience and materialise their ideas. On the same line, we are conducting this Toycathon to provide a national-level platform for our Innovators.”
The proposed Toy Hackathon has 3 tracks:
- Track 1 for junior-level participants, that is, primary school students. They mainly focused on designing toys for kids of age group 0-3 years and 4-10 years.
- Track 2 for senior-level participants, that is students and faculty from higher education institutions. This group focused on developing concepts for 0-3 years, 4-10 and 11 years and above. This segment primarily focused on electronics, sensors, mechatronics, and toys based on AI and ML approaches, AR-VR-XR and Robotics.
- Track 3 for the startup-professional level that incudes overall innovation and development of prototypes. These prototypes are expected to enable the toy industry in boosting up production along with improving the quality of toys in the Indian market.
The inter-ministerial Toycathon focuses on conceptualizing new and innovative toys using local materials which are economical, affordable, safe, environment friendly, with exceptional high quality for both Indian and global markets.
The Toycathon 2021 began with inviting problem statements and finalising top problem statements, identifying nodal centres, identifying evaluators, experts and dignitaries, months before the grand finale. Then the participation was invited from students and professionals. Around 14130 teams have submitted 17770 different ideas on innovative toys based on themes like education, Indian history, culture and moral values, social and human values, psychological development, agricultural implements and tools, and knowledge about India.
The hackathon was initially conceptualised in two formats, that is, physical location for physical toys and digital toycathon for digital toys. Owing to the safety of students and participants, the physical toycathon has been postponed and now only Digital Hackathon is being conducted from June 22 to 24 due to the prevailing Covid 19 pandemic.
The digital Toycathon has received a phenomenal response from enthusiastic innovators and now 1567 selected teams will be participating virtually through 85 nodal centres. During the grand finale, the selected teams will virtually present their toys in front of a jury panel of experts from premier institutes. The teams will receive mentoring from experts during the hackathon and teams will have to improve their toys/games as per expert suggestions.
Abhay Jere, chief innovation officer, MIC outlined the importance of Toycathon in pedagogy. Toy based pedagogy is one of the most effective ways of teaching & learning. For Toycathon 2021 we have received a large number of entries that are focusing on the toys to teach very difficult science and maths concepts to school students in a fun and easy way, Jere says.
Toycathon will not only connect young minds to national institutions, this premier Hackathon for innovation in the toy industry will also instil the spirit of inquiry, critical thinking, and life skill learning. Mohit Gambhir, innovation director, MIC critically analysed the importance of such hackathons in boosting innovation for the Indian MSME toy industry. He says, “This Toycathon has the potential to revolutionize the MSME sector related to the toy Industry. This Toycathon will inculcate the culture of competition and Innovation among our Innovative youth and that will, in turn, boost the local manufacturing of toys for the modern age inspired from the tradition of our motherland”.
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