We do basic electronics course In STEM Land for people who are interested in electronics. This course is offered by Nagendra krishnapura an associate professor in the VLSI group of the department of Electrical Engineering of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. We started the course on 22nd of July. It is a 12 weeks course. Around 22 youths in and around Auroville have registered for this course. Monday and Wednesday is the video session from 5.15 P.M to 7.00 P.M. On Thursday it is the session for discussion on the doubts from the video and helping with the assignments.On Saturday it is the practical session by Sanjeev Rangathan where things are learnt by doing hands on activities. Last Saturday we were glowing up the LEDs with Capacitors and measured the brightness of the LED by connecting it with resistors. This Saturday we learnt about transistors and switches and to control the LEDs by connecting the switches in Series, parallel and toggling. We all enjoyed the session as well as we learnt.
3rd graders and 5th graders went for a walk around the botanical garden in Auroville. Sathiyamoorthy was guiding us.
Prathap, Bala and myself were along with the children. We started with a circle and Sathiyamoorthy gave a brief introduction about what the children should do and the type of plants they were expected to see around the Botanical garden. He was basically telling about 4 types of plants.
Epiphytes (Plants that has the roots outside the soil.)
Xerophytes (Plants that grow in dry areas. (Eg., Cactus))
Semiphytes (Plants that grow in land.)
Parasites (Plants that grow on other plants and trees.)
Hydrophytes (Plants that grow in fresh water.)
Halophytes (Plants that grow in salt water. Note: These types of plants are not there in Auroville Botanical garden)
Then the children went around and Sathiyamoorthy explained about the plants. He talked about the survival techniques, leaf structure and mainly names of the trees and plants.
Children played a maze game. A garden with a maze structure was built there. Children enjoyed getting lost and finding the paths. Children also reflected at the end of the session.
I used the Ganit Mala with the 3rd graders of Isai Ambalam to demonstrate multiplication. They were able to understand that multiplication is a sum of additions. They were able to write 2-10 multiplication tables. Some children worked in pairs and some worked alone. They were fairly engaged with the material they were using.
They were also able to do 2 digit addition and subtraction using the Mala.
In Isai Ambalam prayer hall two tube light were not working. One student asked how to fix it. Then all the student wanted to learn how to fix a tube light. So we started how current flows in a closed loop. Using the tester we showed how to check the plug point. We wrote the parts that are present in a tube light connection. We explained the function of each part . Then they drew the circuit connection in their note book. Next we removed the tube light and started checking the circuit connection. We found that the choke in the tube light didn’t work. We replaced a new choke in the same frame and it worked. Then in our school library the tube light didn’t work.
I was really concerned when I came to know that I’m going to work with 3rd graders on Scratch on every Saturday. Because this was not the grade and activity I had in the mind. They are the youngest grade we work with. I have no idea about their status on computer skills or familiarity.
Last week I took my first session. Literally, it was horrible. Last week I started my class with Cat movements ( Horizontal and vertical motions only ). But they couldn’t do it. I had to sit and help each child individually. The class was messy, Children were screaming/fighting and I was out of control. So I end my class around 12.00pm that day.
The reason why they couldn’t do was,
They are not familiar with computer that much. They couldn’t handle the mouse and keyboard ( The only time they used computers for playing an addition game).
Whatever I did that day did not attract/interest them. They were not caring for the thing they were asked to make.
There was no goal.
Today, before I start my class (and after the circle time), I asked them to show their favorite addition game. They were really happy to show that game to me. I felt that must be easy to create it scratch. I asked them,”How about making our own games instead of playing with other’s creation. They all gave me a stare for a second and asked will it possible? That’s where I played my role today.
I asked them to arrange the chairs in front of the big monitor and sit. I started with how to use the mouse ( different kinds of mouse clicks, when to use what and how to drag and drop something). Before starting to code, I showed them how to select different sprite and backdrop. They chose a boy as the sprite and swimming pool as the backdrop. The boy has to ask the question. If the user enters a correct answer, he should say good else the boy has to jump into the water and die.
I started coding for their theme step by step. There was pin drop silent. Even the so-called trouble creators were into it and did not disturb the class :-). Once I complete the program, I let it be on the monitor so they can replicate it. They did.
I know that they only replicated the program not created. But they way they did it was amazing. Some of them had few doubts about shrinking the sprite and finding the backdrop. But none of them had doubts about where to get the commands ( I mean, from which block). They were focused and worked towards their wish. This time, I ended (forcefully ) my class at 12.45pm.
9th graders finished their assessment and made a scratch program by setting different sounds to various keys. They played musics by conducting different materials like paper, compass, leaves and some aluminium pieces. They worked as a team and enjoyed a lot. They played drums sound and came up with their own music which made everyone to come and see what they were doing.
In Isai Ambalm school 4th and 5th grader were building a simple circuit to check the water level in their school tank. Initially we started to do it in a water bottle. We used LED to check the water level. Suddenly student started to ask every time we need to watch the LED continuously. Then we started discussing what to do and how to improve. While discussing one student told we can use a buzzer which will indicate us once the tank is full. Then we started using buzzer. When the circuit was completed children took took responsibility to fix it from the tank to the motor box. Children were excited and shared their work. Each one gave their suggestions in a group. Finally all agreed to take the wire from one tree to other till they reached the school tank. The wire that we bought had many knots. One group decided to remove knots from the wire. Some students climbed the tree to tie the wire . Then I climbed the tank and fixed the wire in the tank. Then we turned on the motor and waited for the buzzer to give sound. When the tank got filled the buzzer was giving sound. So the water level indicator works. Teachers and students in our school were excited. It was a good experience to work with children. When the teacher asked many question the student answered correctly and explained the concept properly without mistake.
First the class started with how many plants 5th graders wanted to plant in the garden. Then we decided to plant one plant for each foot. The problem started there. Children doesn’t know how much a foot is. Then the conversation went on and the children said that a foot is our foot. Exactly the foot is our foot. A foot is approximately the size of an adult foot. Then the children converted the meter dimensions of the garden they earlier measured into foot.
We went to Botanical garden after that to buy plants. Children were excited and we chose some plants and bought them. Then we came and planted them in the garden.
Each child took different responsibility and planted all the plants. Anitha gave few plants she had.Children also wrote the names of some plant they saw in the Botanical garden.
Children were supporting each other while building a design in Kapla and were very concentrated in building it. They were creative and encouraged each other while building it. They had lot of perseverance and patience while doing it and at the same time they enjoyed a lot and were so proud after completing their design.