While tutoring 10th grade Government School students, it became evident that their grasp of scientific concepts was handicapped by both a lack understanding of the English language, and a lack of understanding of the concepts as well. The latter problem was compounded as these children were memorizing scientific principles/techniques without working them out logically.
A love for science and logical thinking comes when a child is allowed to experiment and work with his/her hands. This experience at younger grade levels will shape how the child grasps concepts as they grow up. To facilitate this love for learning, we decided to partner with an NGO called the Innovation and Science Promotion Foundation (ISPF). Their USP is to make Science kits from very simple materials . Each kit supports making models or performing experiments on topics picked from the curriculum.
For example, to make a simple hand-held microscope to study veins in leaves, ISPF’s kit provides a glass bead and ice cream stick. The glass bead when wedged into a hole made in the stick, becomes a simple lens to observe smaller objects. The smaller the glass bead, the better the resolution of smaller objects. This writer was fortunate and thrilled to see the brick like cells in an onion peel when being trained on this experimental set-up.
We ran a pilot program at Government School, Doddanekundi from November 2018 to February 2019 at 6th grade level using a pilot kit from ISPF. With the participation of nearly 60-70 children and 5 volunteers, we were able to gauge both the level of interest from students and the ease of teaching experimental technique. We were buoyed by the enthusiasm expressed by the children and also their involvement while working on the experiments. Based on this positive experience, Vidyadhaara has decided to start working with 6th grade children for the entire school year of 2019-20. We will be expanding the Science program based on volunteer availability and results from this experience.