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Kids day out at IIM-A: Schoolchildren display their talent
May, 31st 2008

Neehal Zutoru, a 8th standard student of Sanskriti School, Delhi, loves video games. Now, she wants to move ahead. She is attending a special course at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) that has helped her design her own video games.

Phalitha G Ashok, a student from a Bangalore school is realising her ambition of designing bridges. Just a weeks initiation into civil engineering and she has already put in place a design for a bridge with the help of CAD application.

This summer holiday, 34 students from different schools are camping at IIM-A with a purpose. They are stretching their academic competency by taking challenges that would baffle even their seniors. Whats more, the challenges are being taken by these students with utmost ease and efficiency, so much so that their teachers simply do not stop praising their capacity as quick learners and their talent as leaders of tomorrow.

The students are participating in a pilot project of Duke Universitys talent identification programme (TIP), which has for the first time moved out of USA to test waters in India. And what better venue for them than IIM-A classrooms where one can find these kids sauntering around at the institutes new campus that host programmes for corporates.

The programme they are participating in has also been designed by a university that helps IIM-A run its course for corporates.

 We are impressed with the way the students have managed to learn things that are stuff of college syllabus. In the US where we have been running the programme since 1980, we pick up school students who are academically gifted but economically weak and train them to think out-of-the-box and take up challenges that widen their thinking over a variety of subjects. As we are expanding our base out of US, the first choice was IIM-A where we have been running corporate training programme since 2006, said TIP ED, Martha Putallaz.

Now, even as Duke Universitys TIP moved out of USA with the purpose of establishing contacts with students settled in a different culture milieu, it chose IIM-A as its partner to help it in getting right students and right infrastructure to conduct the three-week programme.

The basic purpose behind the exercise is to stretch a students academic competency to a level where they get to think over issues that are otherwise neglected in regular classrooms for the simple fact that they are too complicated and can only be taught in colleges. Contents are much deeper and range of students smaller, so not just a teacher challenges a group of students over an issue but students themselves challenge each other, said Ms Putallaz.

 It is fun studying at IIM-A. We are getting opportunities to learn things that have always been at the back of our mind. We have learnt to design video games using Java application and have solved engineering problems. I have already designed two games as a part of the course, said Neehal.

The English-language schools were picked up from the four cities of Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Principals of these schools were consulted to draw up a list of students who could participate in the programme.

The programme helps inspire a sense of confidence among students and make them learn to think creatively. Bright students have a fear of failure. We quell such fears and help students become leaders, said provost and professor of political science at Duke University, Peter Lange.

I never knew it would be such a fun to draw a bridge. You learn CAD application and draw an actual bridge. Civil engineering has become my favourite subject, exudes Phalitha.

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