Goa’s team wins second place in an international Robotics competition in Thailand. Making India proud: Goa kids play Robotics on the international stage Child prodigies from Goa, Sai Pranav Gandhi and Viraj Vishwanath Marathe share with the robotics India their challenging journey to the international platform to not only represent India in Robotics but also win the second position while competing with 76 teams from 8 countries
Eager to enter this new-found treasure trove of knowledge, and make India proud, two Goan class VII kids have shown extraordinary talent in robotics to win second place at an international level contest held recently in Bangkok, Thailand.
Sai Pranav Gandhi and Viraj Vishwanath Marathe as team members represented India at the International level in Makex Robotics International held in Bangkok, Thailand during November 25-27, and their team ‘Legogoa Axiom’ competed with 72 teams from 8 countries to clinch second place. The tournament spanned over 3 days with 4 rounds for qualification and two rounds for the championship section.
The qualification rounds required consistent performance because scores of all four rounds were considered for finalizing the qualified team to the championship round. On the final day of the competition, ‘Legogoa Axiom’ allied with a ‘TPK Robot 3’ from Thailand that had Mint and Pomphun, to compete with 34 other teams. The day witnessed closely fought matches and Legogoa Axiom held its nerve to score 1460 points (just 20 points behind the winning team) to be placed second in the tally. The team won a 30,000 baht cash prize (approximately Rs 70,000) with a trophy and medals during a glittering closing ceremony.
The journey of ‘Legogoa Axiom’ had been trailblazing as they topped the National level competition in India, Smart India Hackathon (junior category) held at Coimbatore on October 16. The team was felicitated by Padma Shree awardee Subbiah Arunan, project director of Mangalyaan at ISRO. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant wished both the boys during both the wins, in India and Thailand. Viraj, after winning the Smart India Hackathon 2022 in the junior category has developed an App for Dementia patients and got the opportunity to interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 25 in Ahmedabad. “It was a golden moment for us,” quips Dr. Rajashree Marathi, Viraj’s mother, and thanks Sai Pranav’s father Saish Gandhi for mentoring both the wiz-kids.
A Sharada Mandir student, Sai has conducted multiple workshops on LEGO robotics and made presentations to kids on the topic of ‘Learning from toys’, the first one was at the age of six. “I have been participating in Lego robotics competitions since 2018,” says Sai who won the ‘Most Inspirational Team Award’ for First Lego League in 2019 and was qualified for World Robot Olympiad Nationals in 2019.
He has to his credit, multiple awards at school-level chess and also at the academic Olympiads.
With such skills, back in India, both the boys spent a lot of time together, improvising their skills in robotics, putting a lot of effort to deliver perfectly and get error-free results. The Thai language was a barrier, which they tried to surmount through Google translator, gestures, and sign language. “We reviewed recordings, figured out errors, and prepared ourselves to enter a competition where we had to team with a Thai team of two, and take the game forward, helping each other to gain points, as our win depended upon the joint performance of both the teams, Indian and Thai,” states Sai, and recalls, “The judges were very generous, friendly and played translators for us. Thai people are very kind, and hospitable and helped us communicate.”
Sharing his experience, Viraj agrees that it was a tough win, “Everything we had to do was in a split second of time. And we had to take really quick decisions, as other teams were already perfect. Unlike us in India, the kids in Thailand learn coding and robotics from class I, they have dedicated mentors by their sides. All teams traveled with their teachers. We lagged mainly in communication. Phones were not allowed. Thai people know written English, but not spoken, so we had to depend upon signs and gestures to convey our thoughts. Thankfully the organizers knew a little bit of English.”
Viraj too has many awards and rewards to his credit – he won the first prize of Rs 1 lakh in the junior category in NCRC-2022 by SP Robotics. Finalist in the top 5 at the national level in Google Code to learn in 2021, his App featured in the top 8 at the international level.
Both boys have become best buddies now and with common interests in coding, robotics, cubing, swimming, or chatting, spend time together. Talking about the future, Viraj would like to work in the field of programming, website development, App development, and research. Sai likes coding, engineering, maths, science, and arts and would like to combine the best of all of these to reflect in his work.
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