Author Archives: Arun Surya

Exploring Botanical garden

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.

  1. Epiphytes (Plants that has the roots outside the soil.)
  2. Xerophytes (Plants that grow in dry areas. (Eg., Cactus))
  3. Semiphytes (Plants that grow in land.)
  4. Parasites (Plants that grow on other plants and trees.)
  5. Hydrophytes (Plants that grow in fresh water.)
  6. 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.

Starting the session with Concentration

Introduction by Sathiyamoorthy


Epiphyte garden

Explaining about the root

Maze garden..

The Xerophytes garden

Laasya (2nd grader) writing the plants names.

Explaining various Xerophyte plants

Reflections after the walk

Lemon grass tea for the children

Children enjoying the tea


Magic garden

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 looking at different plants

Writing the names of plants

Looking around and finding more plants

Planting activity were children took different responsibility



Multiplication story with 5th Graders

Children learned to say and write multiplication and its two division story. They formed teams and each team presented their stories to the class. Here are the charts made by them.

Multiplication story

1st Division story

2nd Division story


Garden – Filling up with sand

Saturday school already started with disappointment when the hot air balloon again failed to raise up. Then we thought of finishing with what we started. The garden which we built has to be filled with soil to plant plants. It was somewhat time consuming and exhausting to get red soil outside school. Then we looked around the school and found interesting solution.

There were burnt ashes left and decomposed compost from the dry leaves of bamboo trees. We decided to mix Ashes, Sand and Dry leaf compost to fill the garden. The activity started and the children mixed them and almost filled the garden.

Getting Wheel barrow and other tools

Collecting dried leaves compost

Collecting sand

Collecting sand

Mixing Ash, Dried leaves compost and sand


Hot Air Balloon

We made a big hot air balloon. We already completed making the balloon along with the 5th graders. Today for the Saturday’s class we decided to make it fly.

We got some old cloth and some kerosene to get hot air from the fire. We lighted it up and held the balloon on top to get hot air going in. The balloon was a big spherical structure. We waited for a long time and couldn’t get the balloon filled with hot air.

Then we discussed with the children on why the balloon did not go up. Their assumptions were

  1. The Balloon had holes in the structure.
  2. Hot air did not go inside.
  3. The balloon was too heavy. (We weighed the weight of the balloon and it was 206 g)
  4. The balloon was not properly made.

Then we decided to make a small balloon and check if it was flying. This time we made a cuboid balloon structure whose height was around 50 cm high. Again with a lot of excitement we filled the balloon with hot air. We waited and waited but it could not go up. We still don’t know the reason why the balloon did not rise up???

All children excitingly seeing the hot air balloon

Lighting up fire

Holding fire and balloon on to top to fill hot air inside the balloon

We are waiting to see one go up.

Seeds and Seeds

This week 5th Graders studied Seeds and Seeds lesson from their curriculum and completed half of their lesson. They were excited about planting seeds in the school. So we decided to plant Chik Peas, Moong Bean and Mustard and kept under observation.

Children making name flags for each plant

Planting Chik Peas

Planting Moong Bean

Children got few seeds from their home

Ground water model

As a part of their water EBD children made a model for ground water. We got a broken aquarium from Kavitha (Head teacher of Isaiambalam).

Step 1: We placed three compressed bricks inside the aquarium to hold the mesh. We left a space for the water to be collected which is the Aquifer.

Step 2: We placed the mesh on top of the bricks.

Step 3: We put a layer of pebbles.

Step 4: We put few layers of different soils to represent soil layers under earth.

Step 5: Poured water on the top and after sometime it got collected between the bricks which represented Aquifer.


Ground water model with Aquifer at the bottom of the tank


Pouring water which represents rain


Again pouring water


Water droplets get collected in the Aquifer after sometime

Children were thrilled to see water drops being collected at the bottom which gave them some idea of ground water, Aquifer and water collection.



Water EBD

Children of Isaiambalam (4th to 6th Graders) school have been doing an EBD (Education By Design) project on Water. The school was running out of water for the past 3 months. Children was struggling to go to the rest room and for drinking water.

Then the problem was fixed by lowering the Bore well pipe by 150 feet. Now the total depth of the Bore well is 350 feet. We decided to take a real time problem for their EBD. Then the children started to discuss in groups what were the real reasons behind the shortage of water. They had lot of assumptions. For example; They thought that the recently drilled Bore well near the school took away lot of water, The motor was not good enough, The pipe was blocked by the sand etc.

Through EBD children were exposed to learn Maths, English, Tamil and Science.

Maths: They measured length of pipes, Built a pond in school where they measured the Diameter, depth, area etc (Will talk about the pond later in another blog).

English: They wrote whatever they learned in their note book in English. The younger children who were not able to write in English wrote in Tamil first and then translated it back to English. Few children discussed the project in English and presented to the whole group in English.

Science: Children learned the Water Cycle. They learned what was ground water and its process of settling down in the Aquifers. They watched video to learn few concepts like Process of drilling Bore well, Ground water, Water cycle etc. They even saw the process of drilling Bore well near their school.


 Soil scientist: A soil scientist Deoyani from Auroville visited the children and shared her experience with soil and water. She gave few ideas for rain water harvesting. Children were very excited and asked her questions. She pulled out few ideas for saving water from their mouths.

Aaranya forest: Children had a night stay in Aaranya forest (Puthurai). Saravanan (Person who takes care of the forest) took them for a walk through the forest. Children learned new tree names, their history and uses. We had a discussion with the children after the dinner on what they learnt from Saravanan. Children wrote it down in their notebooks. They were very thrilled to know that before the forest fully grew there were 50 different kinds of birds. And now over 250 different kinds of birds visit and lives in the Aaranya forest. Children saw how they were doing rain water harvesting. In the morning we had bridge crossing and rope gliding which were very exciting for the children and myself.


Unfortunately children had only 12 days for their water EBD. We asked the children to present to others what they learned through this project.

  • Kavya and Guru created a book.
  • The pond
  • Model for ground water system
  • Model for hand pump
  • Hand sketch for rain water harvesting in their school
  • Chart work on
  1. water cycle,
  2. ground water,
  3. Drilling bore and
  4. Wastage of water


  • They were able to work with different age group children.
  • They were able to build a pond on their own.
  • They were Able to write English sentences.
  • Some children were able to speak in English.
  • Two children were able to write a book on their own.

The children took up responsibilities for their learning and materials, They had the courage to create models and worked with each other with equality which were aligned with values of STEM Land.