Duration: 11 months | Team: 3
In an age where technology is rapidly evolving, new and improved methods of educating children through E-learning are being developed as well. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these resources. I worked on this project as my undergraduate final year project in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B). In order to make these resources affordable to all students in India, we decided to use only free and open source software to build educational material that we would build on the Aakash tablet - a Low Cost Access Device or LCAD available in India for those who cannot afford more expensive devices.
We decided to build an interactive application that teaches students about renewable sources of energy such as Wind Energy since renewable energy is an important resource today and not many people are aware of the rising environmental issues.
Is an interactive educational application that teaches students concepts about wind energy using 3D models and animations. It consists of two applications – the first takes students through a 3D interactive session about conversion of wind energy to electricity whereas the second teaches students about windmills and their internal working. Since we could only use free and open source materials, we used Blender 3D for modeling whereas BlenderPlayer and LibGDX for deploying the application. Our team researched a range of Game Engines to support various kinds of interactivity on different platforms.
Our team consisted of three people in all. My main responsibility included interface design and 3-D modeling using Blender 3D. For this, I conducted research about the anatomy of windmills, made sketches, mockups, storyboards, 3D models and designed the interface. I also conducted brainstorming sessions, gave oral presentations about the application and used Blender Game Engine for basic animation. In addition, I co-authored a paper "An Interactive E-learning Approach to Wind Energy Concepts Using Low Cost Access Devices" which was published in the International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research (Vol 5) in May 2014.
As a team, we came up with an implementation plan which helped us distribute our responsibility and complete the application by the deadline.
We began with a literature review of current school resources in order to understand how we could align the application with what students are learning at school.
View literature review PDF here
Design and implementation
Following design ideation, brainstorming and sketches, we started building the application.
Part 1: The first part covers the portion which teaches students about wind energy.
Activity 1: Following the educational section of part one, students' knowledge is tested by making them perform an activity.
Part 2 : The second part teaches students the anatomy of the windmill, which is useful for engineering students as well. I designed this entire model after reading mechanical engineering and wind energy books so as to present accurate details of the various components. Since we were only using open source and free tools, I used Blender 3D to create the model although I had never used it before. This was a challenging task since I had to create a detailed model with minumum vertices in order to avoid the model from being too heavy and causing the app to crash. I was able to overcome those challenges and create a minimum vertice 3D animated model with detailed components. It was a great experience.
Activity 2: Following the educational section of part two, students' knowledge about windmills is tested by making them perform a quiz-like activity about the various components.
System architecture of the app: All 3 of us worked different roles to design and develop the app using free and open source tools such as Blender 3D and LibGDX on Android. The entire breakdown of the model and its architecture is presented below.
HOW THIS PROJECT MADE A DIFFERENCE
By deploying this application on Low Cost Access Devices such as the Aakash tablet running on Android OS as well as on the Desktop, students will be able to educate as well as test themselves in the concept of Wind Energy. The application complements 2D videos and traditional blackboard teaching by incorporating life-like 3D interaction that makes learning a more interesting process. Many such applications can now be deployed on the Aakash tablet, making education technology available to students of every socio-economic status. This is crucial because everybody has the right to access educational resources but cannot afford them. This application brought us one step closer.