College Park H.S.student in The Woodlands expands free robotics workshops

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Kabir Jolly has taken over his family’s formal dining room table for a few years now. He once used the table to work on his own robotics projects, but the space has transformed into a teaching setup that he said is a “well-utilized space”.

Jolly is a senior this fall at the Academy of Science and Technology at The Woodlands College Park High School. There, he’s involved in the science fair as well as business and entrepreneurship clubs, but outside of school he’s focused on sharing his passion for robotics with others.

For three years now, he’s been working on his own to host two free workshops per year to help teams around the area learn more about FIRST LEGO league, an international robotics competition for students ages 9 to 14. Many schools in The Woodlands area have their own teams.

“Between 80 and 100 students and teachers come to these workshops, so I start things off for the teams and then do more personalized training throughout the year,” Jolly said.

The next “Robotics EV3” workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 17 to kick off the robotics season, and it’ll take place at Lone Star College-Montgomery.

He also sends out a newsletter every few weeks to the teams, does video conferences with teams who are too far away to travel to, and serves as a mentor whenever teams need help. Jolly does this all for free.

“I’ve learned a lot of presentation skills. With communicating to a larger crowd, you have to make sure that everyone is not only on task but engaged and having fun learning the concepts,” Jolly said.

Years ago, as a fifth-grader himself, Jolly joined a robotics team when his interest of and knowledge in the subject only grew. Though he has now aged out of the FIRST LEGO League competition, he recognized the value of having mentors when he was younger.

“Having two or three mentors to reach out to helped me so much, and I was able to see our team growth so rapidly,” Jolly said. “I’m not going to be able to use my LEGO robotics skills anywhere else other than being able to start younger children off on their own, so this is one way to give back.”

In addition to teaching the actual students, Jolly has also seen success in helping teachers and coaches at Title 1 schools in the area establish their own clubs and curriculum.

As the robotics field grows as an increasingly popular activity for students, Jolly’s mother, Damini, said she sees the value in someone like Kabir giving their time. Damini teaches robotics at the Rubicon Academy
just outside The Woodlands.

“(Robotics) came so fast to the schools, and the training was lacking. The teachers believe in the program, but there can be a disconnect. (Kabir) really stepped in to fill that gap,” Damini said. “I hope he encourages other kids to do that, too.”

Jolly even has an international outreach starting as he taught his first in-person classes abroad in India this summer to two groups of about 20 students each. While he was in the country visiting family for about 10 days, he reached out to a robotics institution to see if they were interested in his workshops. They were.

“As soon as I said I wasn’t charging anything, they asked me to teach at all of their locations. I chose two cities to teach at, and the kids brought their parents as well. They were enthusiastic,” Jolly said.

In India, Jolly saw that not many kids had robotics parts of their own and the teachers didn’t yet have an established curriculum, either. So, as part of his workshop, he tried to share as much of his knowledge as possible.

“It was super exciting, because it was the first time for something like that. Before, my international outreach was just video calling because I can’t travel everywhere,” Jolly said.

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