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Arushi (9 years) and Artash (13 years) at 2019 Toronto Tech Summit at MaRS Discovery District

On 24 May 2019, Genesys organized their annual Toronto Tech Summit at the Toronto Technology Summit at the MaRS Discovery District. The focus of the Summit was on Artificial Intelligence.

Artash (13 years) and Arushi (9 years) were invited to give a talk based on their experiences in participating in over 27 hackathons on space, robotics, environment, and artificial intelligence. The event was very well attended with almost 300 people.

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Sharing their learnings from participating in 27 hackathons and the projects they made

Artash and Arushi spoke on “Hack Your Curiosity: Learn Anything, Learn Everything.” During the presentation, they talked about their maker journey and how they have been building projects at home and in hackathons since the last 5 years.

Their first hackathon was the 2014 NASA SpaceApps Challenge Toronto at the Ontario Science Centre where they built an autonomous Mars rover which could guide itself and transmit data wirelessly using Arduino. It was an amazing experience: trying to solve a space-related challenge in 40 hours, being surrounded by mentors in different areas (coding, engineering, communication) who were willing to share their knowledge, and being thrown in an environment which was competitive but people were collaborative and friendly. They won the SpaceApps Toronto Peoples’ Choice Award to enter the NASA SpaceApps global round where they emerged in top 5.

The positive experience put them on a learning path and learning pace of their own from one hackathon to another. Learning became fun and not limited to classrooms. It also inspired them to co-found www.HotPopRobot.com to share their joy of science, space and learning new things with others.

During their talk, they mentioned 5 points on “How to Hack your Curiosity” so that you can learn anything and everything to prepare yourself for the future which is going to be disruptive.

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Curiosity is the starting point for learning anything. Hack your Curiosity in 5 Steps.

 

How to Hack your Curiosity: 5 Steps

1. Be Curious and Commit to it
Progress happens when we are curious. And being curious means not being afraid to ask “Why” or “How”. So start with being curious. Start with an idea which excites you and will make you happy.

Commit to your curiosity by penning down the idea. Make a sketch, compose a poem about your idea or write a few points about it. This is the first step.

All our ideas have generally started with paper and pencil and sketching.

2. Be Creative, Innovative and Dream Big

We are still in the ideation stage. So think big and think broad. Move away from the conventional thinking of profits, marketability, financing, and advertising. Instead, be innovative and futuristic. Think of game changers: think of benefits to the society, think of the next generation, think of climate change and global heating, think of more equitable and just societies, think of our Universe and the future of humanity. How can your idea, product or service become such a game changer?

Do not be deterred by how little you know. Instead, be inspired by your goals and vision, how much you want to know and how far you want to go. Do not copy other ideas as there is little point in doing something which has already been done.

3. Learn Everything by creating your own Learning Path

Break what you do not know into smaller pieces and work on them. There is no one way of learning something. Learning is a journey.

Creating your own learning path and pace using multiple mediums. Do some reading, take some online courses (edX, Udemy, OpenCourseWare of Universities), watch YouTube tutorials, attend some MeetUp group meetings, participate in hackathons, undertake a small project. And sometimes take a break from the learning for understanding to seep in.

In our case, we have tried to make a new project based on whatever we have learned every few weeks/months to get the feeling of success and being able to share our learnings with others.

4. Become a part of a Community 

Learning is exponential when you are able to discuss with others and get feedback. Becoming a part of the community keeps you interested and updated about topics that are of interest to you, be it robotics, machine learning, astronomy, robotics or rocketry. It motivates you to keep learning instead of getting frustrated.

Some of the communities we are a part of:

Science and Space: Ontario Science Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, NASA SpaceApps

Coding: Coderdojo, Kids Code Jeunesse, hackathons,  several meetup groups

Rockets: Cambridge Rocket Club

BattleBots: Bot Brawl

Outreach: MakerFestival, digiFest, FITC, Science Rendezvous, StemKidsRock

5. Teach Others

There is a difference between knowing the name of something and knowing that thing. A good way to know when you have mastered a subject is when you can teach it to others in a simple language.

When you have made a project from the start, then you know every bit of it including the easy parts, the difficult parts, the challenges you faced, the lessons you learned, and how to fix it when things go wrong. You can then communicate these learnings to others – confidently, correctly and in a simple language. You are now a teacher in that area.

Education does not need to be limited to schools and colleges. School teachers and college professors are not the only educators. Anyone and everyone can be a teacher. Age is not a barrier. Kids are teachers too. They can teach other kids and adults.

In our case, we like to do several outreach events each year bringing our projects to thousands of kids and families at the Ontario Science Centre, MakerFestival, Science Rendezvous, MakerExpo, Libraries, Schools, Toronto International Film Festival, and more! There is a joy in learning which is multiplied when we share our learnings and inspire others.

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Some of the projects made by Artash and Arushi and which they have displayed at different venues to spread the joy of learning

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau mentioned in his opening address on 19 May at the 2019 Collision Conference held in Toronto that the future is going to be disruptive and we have to prepare the youths to adapt to it.

This is absolutely true. The jobs of today are not going to be there tomorrow and the jobs of tomorrow do not exist today. So we have to be prepared to Learn Anything, Learn Everything.

Stay curious!

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Answering questions from the audience

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