Friday, February 28, 2020

Creative Science Fair 2020 an Initiative by Caring with Color inspires Creativity in the Classroom

Highlights

* Caring with Colour - A Manasi Kirloskar Initiative, an education-based non-profit organization, collaborated with The Department of Education and Bidadi Industries Association, to conduct the science fair in Ramanagara block on 28th February 2020
* More than 1100 teachers and students from 54 schools participated in the event showcasing how science can enhance creativity and innovation in students
* Ramanagara, February 28th 2020: On the occasion of National Science Day, Caring with Colour - A Manasi Kirloskar Initiative, collaborated with The Department of Education and Bidadi Industries Association, to conduct Creative Science fair at the Govt. High School Bidadi, of Ramanagara district on 28th February 2020. As a part of the Creative Science fair, a competition was conducted both for teachers and students from more than 50 Government schools in Ramanagara.

The occasion was graced by Mr. Maruthi, Director of Department of State Education Research and Training (DSERT), Mr. Ikram, ZP CEO of Ramanagara and Rajendra Hegde, President of Bidadi Industrial Association (BIA).

The event showcased how teachers in these schools are using innovative teaching practices to make their classrooms interesting. Over 1100 teachers and students from 54 schools spread across 4 clusters participated in the event. Enthusiastic children showcased how they are using the knowledge gained in their science classrooms in their day-to-day lives. This event was designed to develop scientific temper and promote science as a skill among students and promoting experiential methods of teaching science among teachers.

About Caring With Colour- A Manasi Kirloskar Initiative

Caring with Colour- A Manasi Kirloskar Initiative, now in its fourth year, was established to act as a catalyst in improving the learning outcomes in government schools through the adoption of experiential learning methodologies. The organization shares the aspirations of the foundational documents of the Indian Education system like the National Curriculum Framework 2005 and The National Education Policy 2019, which propound that purpose and meaning of education will be realized only when schools build the skills and character required to have a vibrant, peaceful and just society.

“We require a work-force that can be creative, that can solve real-world problems innovatively and sustainably. This can only be achieved when schools focus on imparting 21st century skills inside the classroom delivered through an experiential learning process”, said Manasi Kirloskar, the Managing Director at Kirloskar Systems Limited and CEO of Caring with Colour. That solution created by Caring with Colour enables teachers to teach their regular state syllabus curriculum through the medium of experiential learning. This would mean that the learners of today would be imparted the skills required for future work-force.

Describing the solution design, Mr. Rajeev Annaluru Chief Operation Officer at Caring with Colour, said “We have a comprehensive three-part solution that will help teachers turn their classrooms into fun and engaging experiential learning spaces. Our content helps teachers experientially teach their regular state curriculum. We created rural-India ready technology tools that will help deliver rich digital content in an offline mode in schools. We back this up by hand-holding teachers in the field and facilitate the adoption of experiential teaching methodologies in their classrooms”. Caring with Colour has showcased it is content and technology tools during the science fair.

About Caring With Colour- A Manasi Kirloskar Initiative

Caring with Colour- A Manasi Kirloskar Initiative, now in its fourth year, was established to act as a catalyst in improving the learning outcomes in government schools through the adoption of experiential learning methodologies. The organization shares the aspirations of the foundational documents of the Indian Education system like the National Curriculum Framework 2005 and The National Education Policy 2019, which propound that purpose and meaning of education will be realized only when schools build the skills and character required to have a vibrant, peaceful and just society.

Caring with Colour has created teacher supporting content in Math, Science, and English from grades 4-7 that can be used in teaching each lesson in the state syllabus textbook in an experiential way. Lesson Plans are created by Caring with Colour are in-tune with the idea of helping the learners in the classroom construct their understanding of the world around them using their prior knowledge and contextual experiences. This will help move the classroom from the traditional rote-learning methods into a student-centric approach. A learner of Science, through a Science lesson plan from CWC, won’t just be studying Physics, biology or chemistry but would be understanding and practicing how to hypothesize, look for proofs, revise and experiment.

Another key element of the content created by the organization is the integration of Art and Social and Emotional Learning into everyday teaching practices. CWC's lesson plans integrate Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Fine Arts alike, within the curricular transactions in Math, Science and English subjects. Here, learners are given special opportunities to get exposed to visually rich and colorful learning materials, use the sense of rhythm to learn poetic verses, etc. A learner of English, in an English lesson plan from CWC, can be seen practicing and polishing her/his Inter-personal Intelligence when interacting with people around, Intra-personal skills when reflecting and hypothesizing, Linguistic and Rhythmic Intelligence when reciting a verse among others.

Caring with Colour is also working on creating a technology platform that can help bring the rich experiential learning content that is in digital format to be available in the classrooms on demand. The technology platform called Teachopia which is currently under the prototyping and testing stage is being designed to be rural-India ready and scalable. The platform creates a local intranet Wi-Fi system inside the school serving only educational content that is properly mapped to the curriculum.

Socially Assistive Robot Helps Children with Autism Learn


USC researchers developed personalized learning robots for children with autism and studied whether the robots could autonomously gauge the child’s engagement in long-term, in-home therapeutic interventions

Many children with autism face developmental delays, including communication and behavioral challenges and difficulties with social interaction. This makes learning new skills a major challenge, especially in traditional school environments.

Previous research suggests socially assistive robots can help children with autism learn. But these therapeutic interventions work best if the robot can accurately interpret the child’s behavior and react appropriately.

Now, researchers at the University of Southern California’s Department of Computer Science have developed personalized learning robots for children with autism. They also studied whether the robots could estimate a child’s interest in a task using machine learning.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, the researchers placed a socially assistive robot in the homes of 17 children with autism for one month. The robots personalized their instruction and feedback to each child’s unique learning patterns during the interventions.

After the study was completed, the researchers also analyzed seven of the participants’ engagement and determined the robot could have autonomously detected whether or not the child was engaged with 90% accuracy. The results of the experiments were published in the “Frontiers in Robotics and AI” and “Science Robotics,” journals on Nov. 6 and Feb. 26, respectively.

Making robots smarter

Robots are limited in their ability to autonomously recognize and respond to behavioral cues, especially in atypical users and real-world environments. This study is the first to model the learning patterns and engagement of children with autism in a long-term, in-home setting.

“Current robotic systems are very rigid,” said lead author Shomik Jain, a progressive degree mathematics student advised by socially assistive robotics pioneer Professor Maja Matarić.

“If you think of a real learning environment, the teacher is going to learn things about the child, and the child will learn things from them. It’s a bidirectional process and that doesn’t happen with current robotic systems. This study aims to make robots smarter by understanding the child’s behavior and responding to it in real- time.”

The researchers stress the goal is to augment human therapy, not replace it.

“Human therapists are crucial, but they may not always be available or affordable for families,” said Kartik Mahajan, an undergraduate student in computer science and study co-author. “That’s where socially assistive robots like this come in.”

Enhancing the learning experience

Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant given to Matarić, the research team placed Kiwi the robot in the homes of 17 children with autism spectrum disorders for about a month. The child participants were all aged between 3 and 7 and from the greater Los Angeles area.

During almost daily interventions, the children played space-themed math games on a tablet while Kiwi, a 2-foot tall robot dressed like a green feathered bird, provided instruction and feedback.

Kiwi’s feedback and the games’ difficulty were personalized in real-time according to each child’s unique learning patterns. Matarić’s team in the USC Interaction Lab accomplished this using reinforcement learning, a rapidly growing subfield of artificial intelligence (AI).

The algorithms monitored the child’s performance on the math games. For instance, if a child answered correctly, Kiwi would say something like, “Good job!”. If they got a question wrong, Kiwi might give them some helpful tips to solve the problem, and adjust the difficulty and feedback in future games. The goal was to maximize difficulty, while also not pushing the learner to make too many mistakes.

“If you have no idea what the child’s ability level is, you just throw a bunch of varying problems at them and it’s not good for their engagement or learning,” said Jain.

“But if the robot is able to find an appropriate level of difficulty for the problems, then that can really enhance the learning experience.”

The ultimate frontier

There’s a popular saying among people with autism and their families: If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.

“Autism is the ultimate frontier for robotic personalization, because as anyone who knows about autism will tell you, every individual has a constellation of symptoms and different severities of each symptom,” said Matarić, Chan Soon-Shiong Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics and Interim Vice President of Research.

This presents a particular challenge for machine learning, which usually relies on spotting consistent patterns in huge amounts of similar data. That’s why personalization is so important.

“If we take a cue from a child, we can achieve so much more than just following a script,” said Matarić. “Normal AI approaches fail with autism. AI methods require a lot of similar data and that just isn’t possible with autism, where heterogeneity reigns.”

The researchers tackled this problem in their analysis of the children’s engagement after the intervention. Computer models of engagement were developed by combining many types of data, including eye gaze and head pose, audio pitch and frequency, and performance on the task.

Making these algorithms work using real-world data presented a major challenge, given the accompanying noise and unpredictability.

“This experiment was right in the center of their learning experience,” said Kartik, who helped install the robots in the children’s homes.

“There were cats jumping on the robot, a blender going off in the kitchen, and people coming in and out of the room.” As such, the machine learning algorithms had to be sophisticated enough to focus on pertinent information related to the therapy session and dismiss environmental “noise.”

Improving human-robot interaction

Assessments were conducted before and after the month-long interventions. While the researchers expected to see some improvements in participants, the results surpassed their expectations. At the end of the month’s intervention, 100% of the participants demonstrated improved math skills, while 92% also improved in social skills.

In post-experiment analyses, the researchers were also able to glean some other interesting information from the data that could give us a peek into the recipe for ideal child-robot interactions.

The study observed higher engagement for all participants shortly after the robot had spoken. Specifically, participants were engaged about 70% of the time when the robot had spoken in the previous minute, but less than 50% of the time when the robot had not spoken for more than a minute.

While a personalized model for every user is ideal, the researchers also determined it was possible to achieve adequate results using engagement models trained on data from other users.

Moreover, the study observed caregivers only had to intervene when a child lost interest for a longer period of time. In contrast, participants usually re-engaged by themselves after shorter periods of disinterest. This suggests robotic systems should focus on counteracting longer periods of disengagement.

Matarić’s lab will continue to study the data gathered from the experiment: One active sub-project involves analyzing and modeling the children’s cognitive-affective states, including emotions such as confusion or excitement. The project, led by progressive degree in computer science student Zhonghao Shi, aims to design affect-aware socially assistive robot tutors that are even more sensitive to the emotions and moods of its users in the context of learning.

“The hope is that future studies in this lab and elsewhere can take all the things that we’ve learned and hopefully design more engaging and personalized human-robot interactions,” said Jain.

Airtel Payments Bank Rolls Out Aadhaar Enabled Payment System Across 250,000 Banking Points

Airtel Payments Bank has launched Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) at over 250,000 of its Banking Points across India.

With AePS, along with customers of Airtel Payments Bank, customers of any bank with Aadhaar linked bank accounts can undertake financial transactions at the designated banking points of Airtel Payments Bank. Customers of Airtel Payments Bank can also do financial transactions at any AePS enabled bank.

AePS allows customers to carry out financial transactions on a Micro-ATM by using their Aadhaar number or virtual ID to access their Aadhaar linked bank account. Transactions will be authenticated only if the customer’s Aadhaar number and fingerprint match the records. With AePS, Airtel Payments Bank will be able to offer a wide range of banking services to its account holders as well to customers of other banks who will now be able to withdraw, make balance enquiries and request mini-statements at the 2,50,000+ AePS enabled banking points of Airtel Payments Bank. Similarly, Airtel Payments Bank customers will be able to avail these services from any other AePS enabled bank.

AePS will increase the security layer of the banking processes at Airtel Payments Bank as customers complete their banking transactions with just their Aadhaar number without revealing their bank account or debit card details to anyone.

Mr. Ganesh Ananthanarayanan, Chief Operating Officer, Airtel Payments Bank, said, “We are excited to be a part of AePS, which will allow us to service customers of any bank who have a Aadhar enabled Bank Account. The AePS platform offers an ease of secured banking to everyone by using only their Aadhaar. AePS roll-out is one more step by Airtel Payments Bank to contribute towards the Government of India’s vision of financial inclusion.”

Airtel Payments Bank Ltd.

Airtel Payments Bank is India’s first Payments Bank that launched in January 2017, now boasts of over 40 million+ customers and over 500K banking points across the country. In addition to having a presence in all 29 states of India, Airtel Payments Bank also has an app for Android and iOS users to make banking easier for its rural and urban customers. Airtel Payments Bank aims to take digital banking services to the doorstep of every Indian, particularly in unbanked rural areas, and contribute to the Government’s vision of Digital India and Financial Inclusion.

Muthoot Finance Expands its Gold Loan Portfolio Across Karnataka

Muthoot Finance Ltd, India`s #1 gold loan company, has plans to expand its gold loan portfolio in the state of Karnataka. Currently the company has 549 branches in Karnataka with 262 number of branches in Bengaluru.

Mr. George. M. Alexander, Executive Director, Muthoot Finance said, “We are delighted to announce that in Karnataka our gold loan assets under management (AUM) has increased by 17.5% to Rs.4837 cr in Q3FY20 from Rs.4120 cr in FY19. The gold loan business increased by Rs.717 crs as on Q3FY20 from FY19.

He further added, “Through our 549 branches, we serve on an average 23,100 customers on daily basis. The average gold loan advances stands at Rs.1150 cr per month. Our 3130 employee base services 5.3 lakh active customers in the state.”

The aggressive gold loan growth expansion plans will aid in growing the gold loan book and also generate more employment in the state. Already the company opened nearly 12 branches in Karnataka this Financial Year and plan to open 5 to 8 branches on or before 31.03.2020 in Karnataka.

Muthoot Finance reported 66% YoY increase in the consolidated net profit to Rs.803 cr in Q3FY20 from Rs.485 cr in Q3FY19. The gold loan portfolio registered an increase in net profit of 50% YoY increase to Rs.2,191 cr during 9MFY20 from Rs 1,717 cr in 9MFY19. Total AUM of the company increased by 21% YoY at Rs.43,436crs for 9MFY20.

Muthoot Finance has a pan-India presence and has delivered consistent growth in business and profitability over years. The company enjoys trust of over 12 Million customers.

The Muthoot Group has 18 diversified divisions and 4500 plus branches with global presence. Over 2,53,000 customers visit The Muthoot Group branches every day. The Group has served over 48 crore customers (including repeat customers) till date. The story of The Muthoot Group is built on the foundations of passion, commitment, honesty, traditions and values.

Poonawalla Finance and Capital Float Partner to Disburse Rs 500 Crores Over the Next 12 Months


Poonawalla Finance, part of the $9.8-billion Cyrus Poonawalla Group, has partnered with Capital Float, India’s leading fintech lender, to deliver working capital financing to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across India. The two companies will co-lend on Capital Float’s co-origination model to deliver last-mile credit to MSMEs across the country. MSMEs will be able to apply for these loans online and receive in-principle approval within four hours, the quickest turnaround time in the industry, powered by Capital Float’s path-breaking technology and credit underwriting platform integrated with Poonawalla’s systems. Poonawalla Finance which started in April 2019 has already crossed Rs1500crs in AUM is one of most well capitalized NBFCs in the country.

Sashank Rishyasringa, Co-Founder, Capital Float, said, “Capital Float is the pioneer of digital lending in India with proven capabilities and experience in MSME financing. We recently crossed $1 bn in lifetime disbursals and are heavily motivated to foster the growth of small businesses at a grassroots level. In this regard, we are delighted to partner with Poonawalla Finance and add impetus to our lending initiative for MSMEs. We are deeply impressed by Poonawalla Finance’s speed in business execution and the significant focus on technology to innovatively solve problems. The agility of the companies involved helped take the partnership live in record time.”

Abhay Bhutada, Managing Director & CEO, Poonawalla Finance,  said, “We are very excited about our partnership with Capital Float. They paved the way for digital lending in India and have demonstrated maturity and resilience over the years. Capital Float is led by strong and professional promoters with significant experience, a key determinant of their success. Poonawalla Finance believes in relationship-driven partnerships being integral to jointly achieving mutual objectives and growth in a tightly contested market. Through our collaboration with Capital Float, we will expand our reach beyond the metropolitan cities to tier 2-3 towns of India.”

The two NBFCs will begin by co-originating on MSME loans, but are expected to expand the engagement to consumer financing as well. Poonawalla Finance and Capital Float are targeting to disburse over Rs 500 crores over the next 12 months, with a monthly run rate of Rs 50 crores. Poonawalla Finance’s systems will be fully integrated with Capital Float’s co-origination platform through APIs to facilitate real-time decision-making and faster disbursals. This partnership unlocks immense scale in small-ticket MSME credit by combining tech-based lending infrastructure and financial wherewithal.

Canadian Wood Makes a Mark with WFC (Wood Frame Construction) and T&G Houses at Indiawood 2020


Historically wood has been used in India for various building purposes. However, its application has been largely limited to beams and posts, roofing or other parts of construction. Canadian Wood set a new trend in India of building a complete house with wood by putting up two distinctive styles of building techniques at IndiaWood, 2020.

These two resort style houses demonstrating Wood Frame style and Tongue & Groove style of constructions were created using Spruce-pine-fir sustainably sourced from B.C, Canada. Leading manufacturers based out of Mysore and Delhi were partnered with to create these eye-catching displays. The wood for building the house has been provided by Canadian Wood, both the houses unique in their building styles were constantly supervised, improvised by the technical inputs provided by Canadian Wood to help create a robust and appealing proposition most apt for the hospitality sector. Post the exhibition, this house will be further modified and represented in Goa as a display home with furniture, door and door frames made in Canadian Wood species of Western hemlock and Yellow cedar.

The WFC (Wood Frame Construction) style of construction is one of the most widely used methods to build in North America. This technique optimises building process by helping reduce the time and cost involved in the construction process.   

On the other hand, the T&G (Tongue and Groove) style of construction is a very organic and efficient way of building since the entire structure can be prefabricated in the factory from the drawing. A major advantage of this method is that every component can be pre-coated prior to leaving the factory with only a final coat to be done after construction.

Speaking about the T&G (Tongue and Groove) house displayed at IndiaWood 2020, Mr. Peter Bradfield, Technical Advisor at Canadian Wood said, “What set the exhibited T&G house apart was the laminated wall structure with double tongue and groove which increased the wall thickness. This added to strength, stiffness, wall span and insulation values. The beauty and appeal of T&G construction in India for resort living is the all-encompassing look and feel of wood and being part of nature.”

Further to this on the WFC (Wood Frame Construction) house he added “WFC houses are adaptable to all climates, ranging from hot and humid to extremely cold climates. When well-constructed they can meet or exceed code-established levels of fire safety and sound control. The house displayed at the IndiaWood was completely factory made and designed in modules for easy transportation.”

Also available for comment was Mr. Pranesh Chhibber, Country Director with Canadian Wood who said “The hospitality industry is increasingly looking at building resorts using wood in structural applications. Also, there is an upward trend in increased usage of wood in the home category by leading architects, manufacturers, HNIs looking at villas, country homes and farmhouses as a lifestyle statement. Canadian wood on its part is doing its bit in promoting building with wood through technical support and handholding in the T&G, WFC & Post & Beam method in addition to the hybrid method of building with wood and local stone/brick besides interior and exterior use of wood in more traditional applications such as panelling, cladding, furniture (indoor & outdoor), joinery - doors & windows and pergolas/gazebos etc.” He also added that “The cedar species of Canadian wood are ideal decking and sauna.”

Each of the houses displayed at the Canadian Wood booth in IndiaWood were embellished with furniture made using Western hemlock – a species of Canadian wood that is evolving into a preferred choice of furniture manufacturers in India due to its looks & workability. Also, the T&G house demonstrated Doors, Door Frames in Yellow Cedar which is a high-quality substitute wood in lieu of UPVC windows that cancel out noise, dust and water. To present each of the creations in their best form, different established furniture manufacturers were reached out to from across India.

About Forestry Innovation Consulting Pvt Ltd (Canadian Wood)

FII is a crown agency of the government of British Columbia (B.C.), the western most province of Canada. Its mandate is to promote wood products from B.C. Canada in the offshore markets and to position it as a global supplier of quality, environmentally responsible wood products from sustainably managed forests by creating awareness and spreading education through information on the wide variety of timber products available from B.C. Canada and the technical support. Its brand/logo Canadian Wood was established in 2013 to reach out to and the ease of understanding of its activities by its target audience globally.

Hero MotoCorp Further Strengthens BS-VI Line-Up with the Launch of New Super Splendor


Reiterating its commitment to an exciting and comprehensive BS-VI product portfolio, Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters, today launched the iconic Super Splendor in its BS-VI version.

The launch of Super Splendor BS-VI follows the company’s recent BS-VI launches at the Hero World 2020 – the new Xtreme 160R, Passion Pro BS-VI and Glamour BS-VI. Prior to this, the Company had already introduced a series of BS-VI two-wheelers - the Splendor iSmart, Splendor+, HF Deluxe, Pleasure+ 110, Destini 125 and Maestro Edge 125 - in quick succession to be future ready with a compelling product portfolio.

The new Super Splendor BS-VI will be available at Hero MotoCorp showrooms across the country at the attractive prices* of Rs. 67,300 (Self-Drum Alloy wheel) and Rs. 70,800 (Self-Disc Alloy wheel). *(ex-showroom Delhi)

The Company has already stopped production of all BS-IV products and is now manufacturing only BS-VI products.

With a smooth transition to BS-VI, Hero MotoCorp has reaffirmed its focus on providing premium, top-quality products to its customers, featuring superior and cleaner technology.

Commenting on the Super Splendor BS-VI, Malo Le Masson, Head – Global Product Planning, Hero MotoCorp, said, “The Super Splendor has remained one of the most popular motorcycles in India and we are sure this trend will get further strengthened with the new Super Splendor BS-VI. The motorcycle has been revamped to give it a distinct identity and make it more capable than ever. With this launch, almost our entire portfolio has now migrated to the new emission regime.”

THE NEW SUPER SPLENDOR BS-VI

More Capable than ever

The new Super Splendor comes with an all-new 125cc BS-VI Compliant Programmed Fuel Injection engine with XSens Technology, providing a superior ride experience to the customer. It delivers 19% more power - 10.73 BHP @ 7500 RPM and an impressive torque of 10.6 Nm @ 6000 RPM. The engine is mated to an all-new 5-Speed Gearbox offering a stress-free ride on the highways as well as in the city. The revolutionary i3S technology provides a convenient and an eco-friendly ride.

Superior Ride and Control

Underpinning the Super Splendor BS-VI is an all-new chassis which promises greater maneuverability and a plush ride. The rigid diamond frame combined with an increased suspension travel (Front: +15mm; 14% increase, Rear: +7.5mm/10% increase), class-leading 180mm ground clearance (+30mm; 20% higher) and a longer seat (+45mm) guarantee a comfortable ride over any road condition, for the rider as well as the pillion.

For the first time, in the BS-VI guise, the Super Splendor is also available with 240mm front Disc brakes in addition to the Drum brake variant. Combined with an 130mm rear drum brake and CBS technology it provides a safer ride. The 90/90-18" Rear Tyre provides a confident grip, all-day comfort with real road presence.

More Vibrant than ever

The Super Splendor BS-VI offers an elegant way of commuting with its Dual-Tone paint scheme, Bold Flowing lines, and distinct chrome elements. An all-new Metallic Nexus Blue colour variant adds vibrancy to the daily ride. The motorcycle is available in three more colour options: Glaze Black, Heavy Grey, and Candy Blazing Red. 

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