Atal Tinkering Lab
Atal Tinkering Lab
Innovation and entrepreneurship have become an integral part of our nation, through which children are introduced to technology innovation by establishing Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) in schools. Atal Tinkering Lab is the flagship initiative of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Government of India to cultivate an innovative mindset amongst high school students across the country. The scheme offers grant-in-aid of up to Rs. 20 lakh to selected schools to set up ATL. The grant has to be used by the institution for a specific purpose within a maximum of five years. A sum of Rs. 10 lakh is used for the capital expense and the remaining Rs. 10 lakh has to be used for operational and maintenance expenses. In this article, let us look in detail about Atal Tinkering Lab.
Below are the objectives of Atal Tinkering Lab:
- To create workspaces that is suitable for young minds to learn innovation skills, develop ideas via hands-on activities, work and learn in a flexible environment.
- To empower youth with the 21st-century skills of creativity, innovation, critical thinking, design thinking, social and cross-cultural collaboration, ethical leadership etc.
- To help build innovative solutions for India’s unique problems, thereby supporting the nation’s efforts to grow as a knowledge economy.
Features of ATL
- ATL is a workspace that enables young minds to shape their ideas through hands-on do-it-yourself mode.
- Young children are offered with opportunities to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
- To stimulate inventiveness among students, ATL conducts different activities that range from regional and national level competitions, exhibitions, workshops on problem-solving, designing and fabrication of products, lecture series etc. at periodic intervals.
- Schools that are managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society to establish ATL.
- The applicant schools have to provide at least 1500 square feet of built-up space. Schools from hilly/Himalayan and island states, UTs have to provide at least 1000 square feet of built-up space.
Scope of ATL
The Atal Tinkering Lab has been established in 87% of the districts and 110 Aspirational districts resulting with the establishment of 5000 laboratories in the country. These labs have been established in both government and private schools, with a majority in co-educational and girls’ schools that serve as community hubs of innovation. AIM has been taking initiatives to establish over 10,000 ATLs by 2020.
AIM provides grant-in-aid that covers one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum span of five years to every ATL.
Significance of ATL
With the growing demands of the economy in the innovative development, the Government of India has launched a mission to create ecosystems that promotes futuristic skills like complex problem solving, critical thinking, adaptive learning and computational skills in children. By providing access to various ATL resources, students can come up with innovative and practical solutions for problem thriving in the community.
Program Design of ATL
Atal Tinkering Lab is designed to help and nurture innovation amongst young innovators. The scheme enables students to explore new ideas, test them and follow ‘learning by doing’ approach. Students are introduced to four different levels of tinkering, that includes experience design thinking and ideation to develop new perspectives towards social and community problems. Gradually, students are introduced to new technologies and concepts of computational thinking, physical computing and other sectoral areas. Once all this is completed, students begin to work in teams that elevate their learning from previous phases. This allows students to accustom themselves to the new and innovative experiences. ATL motivates a developing mindset for young students, genuinely helping them to graduate the four levels of tinkering in the labs.
Selection Process and Timelines
The selection of schools for ATL is composed of three distinct stages, and the complete process takes 6-8 months to get finalized.
Stage I: Inviting applications via the online application portal (3-4 months)
All schools are invited to submit their application in the ATL online application portal that is a platform developed exclusively for schools to submit their ATL applications. The online application consists of four sections that include contact information of applicant school and principal, basic information that is related to the identity of the school, the performance of the school in terms of scores and participation in competitions and other ATL related information like existence of basic infrastructure etc. Applicants are not permitted to make more than one submission and should not provide false/inaccurate information.
Stage 2: Screening of Applications (1-2 months)
The selection process for ATL will be in two methods namely screening and final evaluation. All received application would be processed depending on the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria include the availability of built-up space 1000-1500 square feet for minimum enrolment of students, dedicated mathematics and science teachers, basic infrastructure that includes the availability of computers and internet connectivity, steady electricity connection, science lab, library and playground and regular attendance staff and students.
Stage 3: Final Evaluation (1-2 Months)
After the screening, the selected applications would be evaluated further for final selection, depending on weighted average but not limited to district coverage, school participation in science, technology, arts and creative festivals and awards. Once the final evaluation is completed, the list of selected schools would be communicated through the AIM website and via email. The schools are mandated to complete the compliance process, including documentation related compliance and PFMS related compliance.
Compliance Process for ATL Disbursement
Compliance refers to the commitment of AIM under NITI Aayog, required for proper documentation like grant-in-aid that is released to shortlisted ATL schools. AIM has prepared a compliance process, and only those schools have to submit the required documents within the given period.
The two components of compliance are, namely, documentary compliance and PFMS compliance. The documentary compliance necessitates schools to submit a set of documents as per their guidelines.
All shortlisted schools have to upload relevant documents in the online document submission portal for documentary compliance. The documents include a declaration form by the school Principal on the school letterhead, Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), bond (only for Governmental schools), bank passbook details and ATL lab layout.
PFMS is a government-initiated finance management and decision support system that is mandated by the Government of India. It helps to track and monitor fund disbursement and utilisation of government schemes. This initiative aims to maintain transparency and prevent the misutilization of public fund.