This tournament helps school students improve their soft skills. Find out how!

HOST is a yearly science tournament that promotes learning through experience, practical knowledge and helps students develop some life skills 

What’s more essential than your textbooks, notepads and online research? Without a second thought, Harish Srinivasan says, "Life skills." Harish is the head and co-founder of Ology Hands-On Science Tournament (HOST). HOST is a yearly science tournament for school students conducted by Infinity Engineers, the parent company that aims at curating unique challenges that make learning not just fun but meaningful. The tournament focuses on different streams from technology to mathematics and more. The students are asked to take up challenges and create working models on the spot with the given materials.  Harish, along with his friends MC Jaikanth and MA Aravind, started this tournament to shed light on the natural learning process, through experience and practical knowledge. To them, such life skills are superpowers that all of us should possess. Harish says “HOST aims to teach the children to enjoy themselves and have fun in all that they do along the way.”

 Students building a model out of the given objects

The first tournament was held in 2018 for three days at three different levels. At every level, the HOST team came up with multiple hurdles that were based extensively on spontaneity and teamwork. The first round was all about logical thinking using puzzles and aptitude questions. The second round brought their creativity into play through activities. The students were asked to design games and Harish says they were awestruck by the outcome. The games included Marble Run, Wrecking Ball, Sustainable Boats and more. At the end of the second round, only 300 students out of 5,000 qualified. The final round had a mystery box along with other skill-based activities. For instance, students were asked to make tents out of newspapers, solve criminal cases and more of these activities are given to test their skills. “The mission of HOST is to engage children with challenges and life-changing experiences that are designed to bring out the real potential of the child and make them realise that they can achieve anything in life” says Harish. The skill training starts right at the beginning as students are grouped with participants from different parts of the state. The grouping puts the students in an uncomfortable situation and helps them come out of their comfort zones,” Harish says. "Imagine the Triwizard tournament in Harry Potter. This is almost the same," he tells us.

Even the pandemic couldn't stop them as HOST successfully conducted its contest even during the lockdown. Harish says, “We wanted to conduct the 2020 tournament on a much bigger scale, but we knew it was not possible.” However, the founder says it pricked their conscience to have charged participants an entry fee and not conduct the competition. As a result, they experimented with a new concept called ‘The HOST family edition’ in the months of April and May. The same contest was held with students seated in the comfort of their homes along with their families. Harish gives us an example of the family challenge. “We gave them an animation movie clip without any sound. The task was to add sounds to the video with the materials available at home”. The HOST team was amazed by the responses sent by the participants as it was all well synced. The founder says, “This enthusiasm gave us the confidence to move ahead and conduct the entire tournament virtually”. 

Model of a cellphone tower for HOST online edition built by a student      

HOST has currently tied up with CBSE schools and students between Class 5 and 8 can participate in the tournament. Harish says, “With the help of Teach For India, we are also looking forward to working with government schools from next year onwards. We plan on having seats reserved for government students.” 

They also work in collaboration with college students majoring in psychology. These students are called Coaches who act as a friend, guide, motivator while keenly observing the student’s behaviour. Harish says, “The data that the psychology students provide helps us in introspection and move better for the next year’s tournament.”

For the upcoming tournaments, HOST is in the process of creating an application called HOSTI. The idea is to communicate life skills through an application that pushes challenges every day. For instance, HOSTI will ask the students to write a gratitude letter. The application will focus extensively on social and emotional learning, says Harish.

While knowledge is one thing, knowing to put their knowledge to practice when the demand arises is something completely different. Harish tells us that such skills are essential not only for a child’s future but also for them to tackle their academic stress. He further elucidates that HOST has been playing the role of a mentor, giving the kids an opportunity to question all the improbable and voice their own answers at the impossible. Through HOST we hope to make these soft skills a priority in the upcoming days,” concludes Harish.  

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