For most kids, summer vacations are all about spending time with friends and cousins, joining hobby classes, and unlimited playing hours. But with lockdowns imposed across the country due to COVID-19 outbreak, this year is proving to be a testing time for both children and their parents, as everyone adjusts to being confined to their homes.
However, Divya Gopal’s story is a slightly different one. This 12-year-old from Bengaluru, India, is trying to not only keep herself occupied but also helping other kids learn a new trick or two. Divya is sharing her passion and hobby of solving the Rubik’s Cube with other kids by conducting online classes on Microsoft Teams.
Divya’s fascination with the Rubik’s Cube began with some good old sibling rivalry with her brother. “When I was five, my elder brother had learned how to solve the Rubik’s Cube but he refused to teach me,” the grade 7 student at The National Public School, Koramangala says. Not the one to give up easily, she figured it out on her own by watching videos online.
Fast forward seven years later, Divya is not only able to solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute (her best time so far is 54 seconds!) but she can also do a number of tricks. “It is fun to make designs with the cube such as a checkerboard pattern or other such combinations,” she exclaims.
Seeing her passion, a neighbor enlisted Divya to take summer vacation classes this year for other children in their apartment’s clubhouse. The experiment was a success with more than 15 kids turning up for the initial class, which Divya divided into smaller classes for better focus. But just when her classes were getting intense, a country-wide lockdown was implemented.
While that might have been the end of the road for most kids, Divya was too invested in her classes and wanted to continue them. She’d seen her mother, who works for Microsoft India, attend meetings over Teams. That sparked an idea.
“If my mother could conduct her office work via Teams, so why couldn’t I continue with my classes?” she says.
Divya started sending Teams invites to her “students” to see if it could work for her as well.
“In order to teach on Teams, I had to show my Rubik’s Cube to other kids and see how they are moving the different blocks. It took a day getting used to, but I figured it out. I take these classes individually, so it is easier to see what they are doing,” she tells us over a Teams call.
The best part – kids can access Teams on any device and even if they don’t have the app installed on their parents’ laptops via the browser. For parents, there’s the assurance of the meetings being secure and not getting hijacked by strangers.
“I have parents calling me and checking if Divya is taking the lesson today, as their kids want to learn and practise more. It’s productive use of time during the lockdown and keeps them away from idling away time on their phones or tablets,” says her mother, Irina Ghose, who is the Country Head – Modern Workplaces at Microsoft India.
As we wrap up this story, Divya has already trained four children and is planning to add online classes for Sudoku and other puzzles.
If you have a story about using Microsoft tools to cope with the current lockdown, we’d love to hear from you. Ping us @MicrosoftIndia on Twitter.