+ Research and Development
Meet Auto oscar
Auto Oscar is a learning initiative developed by Vinaya Gunasekar, a 13-year-old environmental activist and ambassador here at The STEAM Connection. When young Vinaya saw the opportunity to use her passion for robotics and technology to make a difference, she took it. Since she was a young child, Vinaya has used her voice to advocate for our Earth.
Vinaya said that “it is really difficult to be surrounded by things that are worsening, but feeling like you have no way to change them. It’s hard to know that the world that me and my loved ones live in is not getting healthier…we have to do what we can to create change now before it is too late…and it is possible.” She continues “For example, in Asia, there may be no more fish in the ocean by 2048 in a mere 27 years because of commercial fishing trends. Fifteen species went extinct in 2020. These are things that are happening now.” Vinaya got her start in helping create the science wing at her elementary school through her class’s Project R.O.O.T., and when she was in 6th grade, she wrote a book about the environment. “Beforehand, I wasn’t very aware of what was happening,” she said. “As I researched for my book, I found statistics like the ones I said before, and that terrified me.”
Vinaya has been a tireless volunteer, coder for her robotics team, and inventor in her free time. She has been developing a project called Auto Oscar, a recycling robot and advocacy tool for schools. The robot interacts with users and shares environmental facts. Via remote control, the robot scoops recyclables up its ramp and stores it inside the robot. When not engaged, the ramp can be pushed up to be used as a recycling bin. The goal of Auto Oscar is to engage our youths in thinking actively about the role that technology plays in helping our Earth. Auto Oscar is currently still in development and the pictures seen here are our mini-prototype made from recycled plastic and designed in SOLIDWORKS.
Learn how you can get involved below.
Since Vinaya Gunasekar was a young child, she has worked to bring science and technology educational resources to other kids like her. She got started with helping start the science wing at her elementary school through her initiative, Project R.O.O.T in 5th grade. Now at age 13, Vinaya is an environmental activist and STEAM changemaker who is passionate about recycling and using technology and robotics to benefit our Earth in innovative ways. She is a member of all-girls FIRST Robotics Team Infinity & Beyond and is an ambassador of The STEAM Connection. She is currently working on making STEAM accessible to hospitalized children and is co-hosting the Hands-On Techie Talks podcast with Danielle Boyer to introduce kids to STEAM education during the pandemic. In her free time, you’ll find her working on a robot named Auto Oscar to clean recyclables off of school floors.