STEM Land April-June 2018

STEM Land Newsletter

Volume-1, Oct-Dec 2017

About STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) land
STEM land resource centres are located in Udavi School and Isai Ambalam School, two outreach schools of Auroville. Children come to STEM Land for Math, EVS and science classes.They learn Mathematics, Electronics, 3D Printing, Programming, Mindstorms (Robotics) and play strategic games that enhance logical thinking. The elder children take responsibility for their learning and plan their goals and only ask for support when they need it. This self-directed learning is based on Sri Aurobindo’s first principle of education, “Nothing can be taught”. With younger children we work on real life projects that impact their surroundings. We believe a nurturing environment can support a child’s learning and taking responsibility of his or her learning.

Building an Infinity cube with the 6th graders.

The 6th graders from Udavi school wanted to build something to show their parents. A few weeks before the class had built cubes from chart paper to understand volume. In our training with Ravi Aluganti at Isai Ambalam School on Kirigami we had encountered the infinity cube he had built. The structure that could move within itself was amazing and we decided that we will work with the children to convert the regular cubes to an infinity cube.


The infinity cube was showcased by the children in the Open House for the parents before the summer break. For the event they also put together other projects they had done in the term that they had found interesting. This consisted of electronic circuits that they had built. One project was a table top lamp operated of a 9V battery and decorated with foam and color . Another was LEDs that show the capitals of states in the India map. Another was a Buzzer that was connected to a battery using a switch.

Video on Infinity cube

Children building a tree house in their school

The children at Isai Ambalam have been wanting to build a tree house for some time. Josh who volunteered at STEM land at Udavi school last year was back this year. This time he spent time both at Isai Ambalam and in Udavi school and had some experience with building tree houses. He decided to work with the children to build a tree house.With the help of the children and some very nice tools Josh brought with him the children were able to help him use the bamboo on campus for the main sections of the tree house. Josh was very impressed at how comfortable and efficient the children at the school are at using tools.

Josh had also taught the children a song about trees in English and the children sang this song as well. The tree house community also supported us in the initial stages. The entire structure came up very quickly in a little over a week including sleep overs. The children measured and cut bamboo and the tree and created a complete platform and a short keep out wall that makes it feel like you are in a boat in the air. Read more

Teachers training and teachers visits to Isai Ambalam and Udavi school

A group of 44 teachers from Babaji Vidyalaya came to visit Isai Ambalam. We shared about what we deeply care about and explained  some of the EBDs (Education by Design) that children made. We showed them the pondclay room and later children took initiative to explain their own EBD projects. Children first spoke about the tree house. They explained in English and shared their work confidently to all the teachers.  They also showed the clay oven. The 6th grade children explained the India map that they built using red sand. Then they took the teachers to the garden and showed them the Kitchen waste water treatment plant

The teachers then visited the class room and interacted with the Isai Ambalam school teachers and students. UKG children told them the months in a year and the 6th and 7th graders showed them how they had organized their classroom as a 5S system. They also showed the Mindstorm robot that they built in STEM land and the projects they had submitted for Raman Award. Ayush from 7th standard presented his project in Scratch.Then Saranya took the teachers to STEM land and showed the materials, games, puzzles and projects that children have done. She also explained how we work including the ground rules and the check in check out system. 

In Udavi we gave a presentation on STEM land in the i-SMART class room. We also shared the stewardship (leadership) tools with them.Through the session every teacher was able to process what they really care about and found what they stand for, and notice their common fears. The teachers were happy and also took the stand and fear chart to put it on their notice board in their school to remind themselves about their values. Read more…

Smart board in i-SMART class room

We set up a new smart board at our i-SMART class room. Children from the 10th grade were very excited to see the smart board. They were discussing how they solved the questions in their Maths annual examination of the previous year. When Sanjeev was writing on the smart board with his finger instead of using the given pen, children were fascinated by it and all tried using the smart board. They discussed all questions from last term question paper and gave turn for each child to write the answers  they knew on the board. The 10th graders now use the smart board during their classes. The children often explore the advanced features and let us know.

Preparation workshop with Isai Ambalam school teachers

A stewardship workshop was arranged in the morning with all the teachers and volunteers at Isai Ambalam School during the summer vacation. The focus was on to find what one wants to accomplish on the up coming year and determine ones roles and accountabilities. It also allowed us to have a common language to help us be more effective as a group.

It was organized for three days, the table PCs were the members of STEMland. The workshop was delivered by Arun and Sundar. We were able to plan well for the next year after knowing what we really care about and knowing the change that we want to see. Read more…

Trail Blazers Conclave at IIMB (Bangalore)

Sanjeev was invited to the  trailblazers conclave organized by IIMB and Rotary as a panelist to talk about innovations in education. The talks and panel included those who were running large scale programs across the country and those who had working programs that could be scaled. We received interest in visiting and collaborating with STEM land. Read more

Contributions can be directed towards

Auroville Unity Fund
(with a note for STEM land)
and mail to Dr.Sanjeev Ranganathan,
STEM land Udavi School, Auroville,
Edayanchavadi, Tamil Nadu – 605101
All donations are 100% tax deductible in India.

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Education system should go beyond examination

Our research work



Priyan the tailoring bird

 In an EVS session 4th graders at Isai Ambalam School were studying about Indian birds. In the class we discussed about the birds which they have seen. During the discussion we talked about nests, how they are made and how each bird makes its nest differently. As an activity, Naveen, asked them to go out of the class like a bird and build a nest of any material with which they can build a nest. Everyone were excited and they ran out in search of the materials for their nest. They collected some twigs, hay, leaves. Priyan was able to make a tailoring birds nest out of the leaves,hay and thread he found outside.

He was making the nest even in his break time. While he was doing the nest Nithish from 3rd grade came and helped him. After Priyan’s sharing about his nest model in the assembly, Harish, Aasish and Elanchezhiyan made a nest model of a weaver bird. It was an example of how the work of one child inspires others into action. Read more..

WordPress course

Kshitij who attended the python Django course offered a WordPress course. It was 8 session course, two classes in a week. Technically, it was a lighter course compared to Python Django course. We learnt to design and create our own website. Feedback from the course indicated that they found the course interesting and enjoyed it. Read more

LNET Conference (Learning Network)  in Bangalore

STEM land contingent of 7 people attended the LNET conference in creative school at Bangalore for three days . The conference was primarily of practitioners from across the country and was also attended by teachers from different schools. Resource people conducted sessions on different aspects of education. In addition to the main sessions we also interacted with some resource people who offered us sessions at night on Mathematics and drama.
We also conducted sessions on all three days. We offered stewardship tools and an electronics session. We did stand, fear and deep listening and in the electronics session we did the seven segment displays to display their name. On the last day, we offered a session for the children from creative school and were very engaged and interested in it and felt complete and content only after completing their names.  Read more

Bonfire and Silambam with Mohanam (bamboo center)

As part of our sleep overs when children work on projects this year we collaborated with Mohanam cultural center. After working on projects at 6:30 p.m. the children go to the center  to learn drums (around a bonfire) and at 7:00 a.m.the next day morning they go to learn Silambam. This has added an art and musical dimension to the sleepovers Our children showed interest in learning arts and opened up as they danced around the fire. Some of us have joined both these programs and have a great time with the Mohanam team. Read more

Creative school children interaction and Jayashree’s session on healing

Jayashree from creative school in Bangalore came to STEM land with her school children as well as a volunteer who is interested in setting up a STEM land at their school.

The children from creative school  had completed their 10th and 11th grade taught the children mindfulness exercises specifically focusing on the 10th graders at Udavi for 3 days. They shared how these techniques had helped them keep calm and be fresh when studying and taking examinations. These included breathing techniques and affirmations. They also colored mandalas with their non-dominant hand and shared how they felt doing it. Children also practiced fire meditation with candles that could help free them of nagging emotions. Various aspects of being free of fear, being able to solve many math problems came up from the Udavi children in the interactions.

They also did sessions for children in Isai Ambalam school. They colored the Mandala and did the meditation techniques. 

Youth trainees at STEM land

Three engineers who have completed their engineering under graduate in electronics are interested learning in  programming  and hands-on electronics. They are now going through a python interactive course along with three of our team members. During the course participants are expected to do assignments and Sanjeev reviews the code and gives feedback.

Workshop on Siddha Medicine

Our work on well being for ourselves and our children coincided with the interest of the teachers at Isai Ambalam school and we invited a Siddha practitioner to the school. Vignesh had an interactive session to understand common understanding and distinctions between symptoms and root cause and then shared his knowledge on the history of Siddha medicine and current status of Allopathic medicine and how people are using it at many times to address symptoms.

He also talked about the collection of toxins and how day to day living practices and natural mechanisms if allowed to run their course detox the boxy.
He stated the benefits of many herbs and trees around campus depending on the conversation. He also gave natural alternatives for the daily use of products such as shampoo  and tooth paste. Later a similar workshop was also conducted for children after which there is much buzz about making our own natural products. We have so far made toothpaste and one group of children are considering maintaining a mill. Read more

Support a child

In partnership with Asha for Education we have set up a Support a Child  program for Isai Ambalam School the school we all volunteer in. The support will cover the needs of running high quality programs at the school including teachers salaries; nutrition; activities in sports, music, swimming and STEM land activities. The support for a child is Rs.11,000/year ($168/year). Please sign up to support a child here.

Our Team

We are a team of 9 engineers at STEM land. Our projects range from python programming and more recently to analog VLSI layout.

(Left to right ) Poovizhi, Ranjith, Arun, Logeshwari, Sanjeev, Pratap, Sundar, Saranya, Naveen

Meet the team




Peer learning in 8th Grade

Anisha,Janani,Sivasakthi,Sindhu and Larasem were working on geometry in finding the angels for triangle with the other angles given directly or indirectly. They had some confusions and started to discuss among themselves by working out in each others notebook. Later, each took turn and used the board to frame their own questions and  asked the others to solve. Then they discussed among themselves in how to solve the question.

What they learned in the discussions are as follows:

  • There are three angles in a triangle.
  • They know that the sum of angle in an triangle is 180 degree.
  • Intersecting angles in a straight line is 180 degree.

Fixing the 3D printer in STEMLand

The 3D printer in Stemland was not printing the model at the centre of the plate. It started to print the models at the corner of the plate. When I looked, I found that the trigger switch that was to locate the x-location was broken. So, I had bought a new trigger switch to replace the broken switch.

Pranavraj from 8th grade was working on the proof of the area of parallelogram is equal to the area of rectangle with same base and height. He wanted to create a 3D printed model for that. I supported him in creating the model using blender. Then as the 3D printer was broken he was not able to print the model. He helped me in replacing the trigger switch. Then we replaced the trigger switch. The new trigger switch is not able to get triggered when it hits the screw for the x location. This needs to be debugged.

Project Presentation by 8th Graders

This week Larasem and Sindhu from 8th Grade in Udavi school presented their project on Geometry to the 8th and 9th graders. It was a simple Scratch program where they showed a triangle and calculated the third angle of  the triangle by giving two angles.

This was their first time to present a project and they did it well and also answered the questions too.

The program had only fixed angles and they were not changing automatically. Then Sanjeev showed to the children on how to create a variable and make the angles to change randomly and also add the tick to the angles using ‘join’.

Projects Presentation

~ Saranya

In STEM land children have their freedom to choose their goals for a week and they will work on it. End of the week children will share their projects to everyone. From this presentation I am able to see peer learning is happening in STEM land. Every week children are having project presentation through this children confident level is increasing.

1. Baranidharan

He selected algebra as a goal for this week and he worked on it. He came up with a project on algebra using scratch.

He shared his project to 7th and 9th grade. He explained the concept of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of polynomial.

That was very interesting for us.

7th grade got an idea of how they can make project on scratch.

2. Divakaran

Divakaran worked on set language and he made a game through scratch.

He shared his project to everyone and 7th grade played that game and learnt about set language.

Though 7th grade did’t have set language as a syllabus but they have learnt about it by this presentation.

Finally from this project presentation 7th grade got an idea of how to make project.

Now 7th grades are working on their projects.

Finding the Pattern using shapes and colours

3rd grade children from Isai ambalam school are studying about patterns. They were given an activity to make some design out of different shapes and colors. They split into teams and started to create their own designs. Later they all went through each one’s design and found the pattern in the design. Children were able to find the pattern that was used in the design and discussed about it. They were so interested to use the material and it was easy for them to understand about patterns. Later they were able to find patterns from their class room. They came up with things like window grill, wall, Leaves and so on.

Medicinal Garden

~Pratap and saranya

Pratap, Sundar,Naveen and I was working on the medicinal garden. When we are working with children we raised question towards the children about how they got an idea like this? They said that when we attended Siddha doctor session for our small kind of infection we would like to create medicinal garden in our school that will be useful for us as well as for next generation. Again we raised question towards children about where do you want to have medicinal garden they said near by kitchen. We had like this many conversation with children finally we did fenece for the medicinal garden and each children came up with small idea that each person will select one medicinal plant and they should know about the benefit of the plat that they are choosing to have in school. They searched on the internet about their medicinal plant and they came up with an idea These are the things we need to have for the medicinal plant they took notes for that. Volunteer from US his name is rohan, He also supported children to make fence. This medicinal plant is ongoing.





During the math hour children were learning about the counting in tens. Everyone were doing the book activity so we arised question to children according to the activity (i.e) 35 flowers howmany garland can you make? Children suddenly asked us to give buttons. We gave buttons to them and they made 3 garland 3 extra flowers. Weasked in that flowers howmany ten’s are here and howmany one’s are here? Children answered well. Each and every children answered well. I noticed that when we ask question to children mostly all of the children were tried to explore their interest towards the maths.

Addition of one digit numbers

1st grade children are studying about numbers 0-10 and addition of one digits number. They taught to use Cuisenaire rod for learning numbers (because children like color very much and they learned number easily using it). Then they are asked to find out what are possible ways of getting 10, 9, and 8 by adding two numbers.

It was interesting to see children figure out a pattern in adding number using Cuisenaire rods.

Children are teaching their friends about adding two numbers using Cuisenaire rods.


Practicing Breakdown to Breakthrough

As a team we practiced the Breakdown to Breakthrough exercise. First day we did the session with the Tamrai Team. We did the exercise together and shared our insights in a pair and as a group. On the second day, we continued it for the breakdowns which we had for our team.
We had fun as well as we came up with action items and new ideas for the breakdowns we had in our team.

My Insights:

  • A breakdown does not be bad or hard to take on, it can also be fun.
  • A breakdown comes when I need something to happen or progress to happen in my workplace.
  • I learnt that I don’t need to wait for others to do the work, I can also take responsibility and do a work for which I am not accountable for.