Some of the 8th and 7th graders decided to come to school on their first day of Pongal holiday. Each person of the team came up different modules to build. I had an unused web cam and decided to turn it into an microscope. Naveen and Agalya were interested and so the Hack began
Agalya unscrewed the web cam and separated all the components.
The hack was to reverse the lens.
Once the lens was reversed the children where able to see different objects we had initially checked out the display to see the RGB components.
After Pongal (Harvesting festival) holidays children were back to school wearing their Pongal dress. They came to STEM Land for their math class . During the circle time we announced that we have got new games to STEM Land. Children were eager to play the new games. They went to the iSMART class room and played the new games. We bought three games in which they played two of them since the other one arrived the day after. One of the game was squashed and the other one was Brix. Children split into two groups and took turns to play both the games. One group played Brix in which they had to build a wall where they had 22 blocks. They started the game by choosing their symbol and color.Then they played the game till they get four X’s in a row while the other child tried to get four O’s in a row and the same with the colors.
The other group played Squashed. Where children rolled a die during their turns and move that many spaces and were so enthusiastic to flip the cube so that the other players coins get Squashed. They did the same till the last coin was alive who is the winner. They enjoyed played it and also shared the rules to their friends who were playing the other game. It was fun to look at them playing and while some of their friends were trying to help each other saying move your coin this way, these many steps and squash the other person’s coin! They had a good time.
At STEM land -AAD our tag line is learn, grow, work, teach. We work in various ways on our growth. I recently participate in a Vipassana course. I found it useful in various ways.
I am noting my understanding of the technique of Vipassana based on my experience, the evening discourses and from the conversations about it later.
1) What is taught at Vipassana is Sila, Samadhi and Panna.
a)Sila is the morality.
* Do not kill any living being
* Do not tell lie
* Do not steal
* Do not take any type of drugs
* No sexual misconduct
When we break Sila it needs a strong volition of the mind. This is the volition we are trying to dissolve through Vipassana.
b) Samadhi is concentration of the mind
Anna-panna helps us to concentrate by concentrating on breath. We choose breath to concentrate because it is the universal Truth and everyone can experience it.
It also links with breath which changes with emotions and allows to notice ourselves.
This is Samma-Samadhi the right kind of Samadhi.
It can also teach equanimity by not having attachment to breath that comes in or goes out.
It also helps us to understand the law of nature that is impermanence (Anicha) that is ‘constantly changing’.
c)Panna is wisdom
Suthamaya panna – wisdom I get when I listen to someone I respect or have faith in
Chintamaya panna – wisdom from thinking about something and understanding intellectually
Bhavanamaya panna – wisdom gained from the Truth experienced by me
Vipasana focusses on Bhavanamaya panna
We notice that mind and matter are related
2) We have 6 sense doors – 5 external (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) and the mind that brings a thought.
Phassa – contact with 6 sense doors results in
tanha – identify or gives decision
sankara – craving and aversion. The subconscious mind reacts to the sensation in this way.
Phassa leads to vinyana leads to tanaha leads to vedhana leads to sankara
Vipassana gives us access to change the habit pattern of our subconscious mind of craving and aversion.
We are aware of only 2% of our thoughts, this gives us access to train the 98% of our thoughts.
3) The two important wheels of Vipassana are awareness of sensations and equanimity. Without awareness of sensations we cannot get to the subconscious mind. Without equanimity we cannot change its habit pattern of reaction.
4) Metta – share my unconditional peace, love and happiness with others and care for all living beings.
Please visit dhamma.org
Homi Bhabha Centre
We attended a conference and also presented a poster at epiSTEME7 conference in HBCSE (Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education) at Mumbai. It was an international conference held from Jan 5th to 8th 2018. Many people from different countries had come and presented their research and review papers at the conference. The conference was about research on Science, TEchnology and Mathematics Education. We wrote a paper on “Fostering Responsibility in Learning in Rural Schools”. Our paper was selected for a poster presentation. Five of us from STEM land – Aura Auro Design Arun, Poovizhi, Pratap, Sanjeev and Sundar went for the conference.
On Jan 5th we attended the conference and in the evening we went to IIT Bombay. There we met students from Educational Technology department. We met Prof. Chandan who is with the Educational Technologies group. Two years back the group had interacted with them and we wanted to re-establish a research relationsip with them. Chandan had recently joined the fledging department and had volunteered with Sanjeev with Asha and was interested in our research. We presented our work to the department PhD students and professors. Sanjeev started the presentation with 2 videos of STEM land talking about how we started and then the four of us presented our epiSTEME7 poster to them. We also shared about our research topics which we have been working on. Arun’s research topic is “Deep learning of Mathematics through materials and real life projects”, Sundar’s topic is “Developing leadership via STEMLand” and Poovizhi and my topic is “Altering Factors Influencing Student’s Attitude Towards Thinking Mathematically”.
We got a very positive response about our work and some of the students were interested in helping us refine our research to make it relevant to upcoming conferences.
TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences)
On the second day we went to TISS to present our work with some students. There were about 25 students and 4 teachers. They were inspired about what we do. After the presentation students asked many question and we answered those question. Some of the questions were about scaling STEM land. We showed the news letter and got all their email address in order to send a soft copy of the newsletter. Some of the youth wanted to visit STEM land. One of the youth remarked that her entire perspective on education had been rattled and it was still sinking in that children can be responsible for their own learning.
The 3rd day we were in the conference the whole day. Every day they start with a review talk which lasts for about 45 minutes. We had breaks after every 2 – 3 papers were presented. During the break time we interacted with as many participants. During the conversations we exchanged information about what we do and our research. We were the youngest participants in the that conference and rest of them were older than us. One of the participants a dean from South Africa made a video about us to show in her country. We had a buffet system during dinner. We met a person who was making puzzles with binding wire. We all took some puzzles from him for the children in STEM land and his contact and have invited him to visit us a teach us wire art.
Then on the 4th day we attended sessions till the afternoon and Sanjeev also chaired a session.
Later in the evening we again went to TISS this time to present to the professors of the school of Social Work. Their perspectives were very different and probing and it helped us understand our own work differently. When they realized that at Isai Ambalam most of the children we work with are Dalits they were very interested in the relevance of this work to children with difficult backgrounds in homes, institutions and on the street. After the presentation the teachers were willing to help in our research paper especially the surveys. They asked us to create a program package that can be offered to other school teachers as a workshop.
Isai Ambalam school celebrated Christmas on 22/12/17. The prayer hall was decorated with lights, candles and Christmas tree. Gifts were wrapped for the children. There were also delicious cakes which Anita made along with the children. Christmas stories were told to the children.
Naveen was characterised as Santa. Most of the older children(7th, 6th and 5th graders) were able to guess that it was him. But the younger children had no clue.
All the children were given gifts in the end by Santa and had Christmas cakes. It was a good day!
Sankith from Asha (One of our funder) visited STEM land. He visited both centres Isaiambalam and Udavi. Children were very excited to show what they have learnt in STEM land. They also showed their projects.
Children showing bamboo torch
4th graders showing the honey bee model
Punithavl showing his MIT app
Sanketh’s Reflections on visiting STEM Land