Sangamam in Auroville

-Poovizhi

Auroville celebrated Sangamam where all the workers and their families from the bioregion  came together and enjoyed the events. It was a whole day of sports, arts and crafts, cultural programs and many more events. We were allocated a stall for STEM land. Three children from Isai ambalam and 4 children from Udavi came and they setup the stall.

We asked people to display their name or their first letter using  the seven segment displays. Children also were playing games like abalone, Pylos, Dobble and gave some challenging activities to the people.Children asked them to solve the rubiks cube and cast puzzles. Children and the adults were happy to these activities. They were able to display their names using the seven segment displays. Some of them were also able to solve the cast puzzles and were proud of solving them.

We also gave a talk about STEM land under unending education. Bala talked about STEM land in Isai Ambalam and the EBD’s we do there. He also connected with his personal life and the education system that he had before and said that he’s happy to see children having an alternative educations. He also added that we can support more children in Isai ambalam school and people who are interested to join their kids can visit Isai ambalam. I talked about STEM land in Udavi and how children take responsibility of their learning. We also said that we offer free courses related to engineering and people who are interested in learning are always welcome to STEM land.

Nilavazhagan who has completed B.Tech visited our stall in Sangamam and was interested in learning more on what we do. Yesterday he came to STEM land and visited. He wanted to continue and started to come from today onwards and was learning things with children.

STEM land presentation at The Bridge

We presented our paper about STEM land in Udavi and Isai ambalam in The Bridge a collaborative research in Auroville. Our paper was under unending education on 25th Feb 2018. We started the presentation with the core values of STEM land and about the activities and interventions in STEM land. And continued with the plans and tracking method that we follow in STEM land. Then we shared about the Leadership in action program that we do with children and few examples of how it had benefited them to be responsible.

Then we shared about the learning environment in STEM land where there is no hierarchy and learning becomes a social activity and spreads without one to one inputs from facilitators. We also pointed out how STEM is moving towards STEAM and the outcome of children after coming to STEM land. Then we shared about STEM land in Isaiambalam.

We explained about the real life challenges that children take up and how they solve it through EBD. People enjoyed the session and happy to see children work. We showed them few pictures of children working on their EBD and the designs they have build like, Pond, honey bee, Bamboo torch, garden and kitchen waste water management. People enjoyed the presentation and were interested to know more about STEM land.

Parul Kudawla to STEM land

Poovizhi, Pratap

We met Parul when we presented our paper (“Fostering responsibility in learning in rural schools) in TISS Mumbai. She is a management trainee in BPCL. She wanted to learn more about STEM land so she visited STEM land last Sunday. She came with her parents.

She saw all the Montessori materials we used and asked how they were used and for what purpose. Then she was keen in understanding how children learn multiplication tables using Vaughn cube. We explained her the pronunciation and the corresponding numbers. She tried finding it herself and was happy that she understood it. She also shared it with her parents. She learned about the 3D printer and designed a 3D object in Blender. We showed her some projects made by children in scratch and Geogebra.

Her parents were trying to solve some cast puzzles. We all played dimension games and were explaining about how STEM land works and what we do there. Parul enjoyed STEM land and wanted to support us on our research work.

Goanimate, MIT App inventor and Stykz

During the activity class in Udavi school children were working on different applications like Goanimate, MIT Appinventor, Stykz and scratch. Muralidharan anad Nirmal was working on Goanimate. Murali made a video called help others. He made an animation of a man sailing on the boat searching for treasure but then on his way he finds a man in an island asking for help then he goes and rescues him from there. Aravindh built a timer app using MIT Appinventor. Jeeva worked on scratch and programmed a game. Yuvan was working on Stykz and learnt to insert figures in it. It was interesting to see them working on their own on different activities. They were so curious to learn new things and enjoyed learning. Nirmal learnt Go animate and was animating a video to represent a geometrical concept during his math class.

Printing fidget spinner using 3D printer

Sooriya and Aruldeva from 9th std in Udavi wanted to learn about 3D printing. They both sat together and got an idea of printing the Olympic flag symbol with five interlaced rings. They tried to design it in Blender. Some times they had doubt and they asked to an 8th grade child and learnt how to design things in Blender.

 

It was nice to see 8th grade and 9th grade children working together and learn from each other. Then they some how changed the Olympic symbol into a fidget spinner and printed it using Cura. But they had finally printed something as they wanted and learnt to use the 3D printer. They were then playing with it. This dint stop with the fidget spinner. They wanted to continue printing things and now Aruldeva is working on the 3D printer to print a top.

10 Principals in STEM Land

About 22 principals of various schools from mind mingle had come to Auroville to visit schools in and around Auroville. They were split into two groups and one of the groups came to STEM land. They were about 10 principals. We gave a broader picture of what we do and how children learn in STEM land.

      

Then they went around STEM land and interacted with children. They saw the weekly puzzle, weekly plan. Children showed them how they fill their plan using the software, Hariharan solved Rubiks cube, on the other side Viknesh and kabilan were demonstrating their Makey Makey project in which they made a mouse using a rubber chapel.

They looked at the Montessori materials. At the next room children were printing a fidget spinner in 3D printer, some of them were working on Alice and scratch.

The principals were happy to see children printing 3D models and sat along with the children to learn how it works. Children showed their projects which they made in Scratch, Geogebra and Alice. Children gave the principals some cast puzzles and asked them to solve it. Some of them played games along with the children.

It was interesting to see children sharing their learnings with the principals from various states without any hierarchies. Each one of the teachers learnt something from the children and were happy to be STEM land. At the end they wrote about how they felt being in STEM land. They said STEM land is a nice learning environment with freedom. One of the principals said that she was touched with what we do and wanted to implement it by herself.

Vegetable garden in Isai Ambalam school

Children in Isai Ambalam made a garden inside their school campus. On Saturdays children come to school and cleaned the place.They formed mother bed and planted some vegetables. This Monday they harvested their garden and brought some broad beens.

They went around the school to every classes showing their beens to their friends and teachers. They were so proud to say that they got it from their garden. They have also brought a tiny potato from their garden. It was their first experience and were so happy to see natures gift for their hard work and their compassion towards nature.

New strategy Games in STEM Land

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.

Vipassana

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
Why?
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
vinnana- recognition
tanha – identify or gives decision
vedhana- sensation
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

STEM Land News Letter Oct-Dec 2017

STEM Land Newsletter

Volume-1, Oct-Dec 2017

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Land
STEM Land are resource centres located in Udavi school and Isai Ambalam school, two outreach schools of Auroville. Children come to STEM Land for Math and science classes and even during their break times.They learn Mathematics, Electronics, 3D Printing, Programming, Mindstorms and play strategic games that enhances logical thinking. Children take responsibility for their learning and plan their goals. They only ask support when needed. This self directed learning is based on Sri Aurobindo’s first principle of education, “Nothing can be taught”. We believe a nurturing environment can support a child learning and taking responsibility of his or her learning.
How we begin everyday
We start with a gathering where children, volunteers and visitors sit in a circle and have a minute of concentration. After this we share updates/announcements, and plan the day.
Tracking progress

Children used to create their plan in Excel. They had various difficulties including formatting, accidentally deleting their data and the process taking too much time. They now use a software that we created for filling their plan for the week. The software allows children to quickly select their plan and track their progress.
They fill a daily and weekly update of their accomplishments. Children submit assessments at the end of week. Based on their assessment they are able to see their progress which is represented pictorially.
i-SMART classroom
We received a grant from Bajaj through SAIIER to renovate a factory building into an i-SMART (Intelligent and Smart) classroom, where we record the projects of children, make videos, train teachers and conduct courses for youth. The 9th graders at Udavi measured the room and came up with ideas, on how the room should look like. They took responsibility to paint the walls.

On 25th November 2017, we inaugurated the room. Children from Udavi and Isai Ambalam had a sleep over the previous night to collaborate and share what they have learnt.Their interaction was one of the highlights of the year. Isai Ambalam children had brought their projects for demonstration. The whole room and the path was decorated by children. The creativity of their projects and the enthusiasm of their presentation and interaction was an inspiration to all.Courses offered in STEM Land
We conduct courses on electronics and programming for interested children and adults in and around Auroville.We ran a companion hands-on basic electronics in parallel with an on-line certification course over 8 weeks course. Around 22 youth and 4 children attended this course. Although, we had two days for videos and one day for theory the practical hands-on sessions had the most attendance.
Since everyone enjoyed the practical sessions Siva (Isai Ambalam) and Raghu (volunteer in STEM land) who attended the course are conducting a short and intense course on the hands-on electronics activities. This course in Dec is seven two hour sessions. It is being conducted in the i-SMART classroom in a comfortable setting with enough equipment to explore electronics including voltage sources, oscilloscopes and signal generators.
Project work
This term children did projects on statistics, algebra, practical geometry, Cartesian product and recorded them. Children have also created mobile applications in MIT app inventor. Some build a mind-cuber, a robot in Lego Mindstroms to solve Rubiks cube.
Bamboo Torch

During sleep over children needed a torch when there was no power. They connected a circuit with a switch and 1 watt LED to get maximum light. They used bamboo and coconut shell and made a torch. One of their teacher got inspired and learnt to make one by herself. They gifted the torch to some visitors.
 
Education by Design
At Isai Ambalam we have been looking at education by design including creating a herbarium of plants found in the school and studying and creating models for the honey bee. We also took on real life challenges including creating a pond and refurbishing a clay room. This term 4th graders did an EBD about honey bees with the question, ‘
Can honeybees create a forest?
This included studying about the honey bees way beyond what is expected of them visits to apiaries and creating charts, materials to display their learning including this large model of a honeybee.Here are some reflections from the children:
Harish: I feel really happy. Want to do the same kind of project. Want to grow honeybees. I want to tell what I learnt about honeybees to everyone. I learnt how to make projects. Learnt what honeybee gives us and its importance and its threat. It is used for medicines also. I learnt how to draw and do honeybees and where they live. Honeybees can create forest.

Mithrasri: It was fun. I learnt how honeybees collect nectar, and how honey is produced and stored. I learnt about life cycle of honeybees and types of honeybees. How many eyes a honeybee has. Honeybees can create forest.
Sleepovers with robots
This term with the opening of the iSMART classroom we created enough space to work with the mindstorms robots we also brought out a large number of spare motors, gears and connectors that had been donated to us by Future school.
The activity for Isai Ambalam children was kick-started with their interaction with the Udavi 9th graders showing them how to build and use the robots the night before iSMART classroom opening. This has continued into two more sessions going late into the night experimenting and building small creative robots on their own using spare parts.Volunteers in STEM Land
This year, we had two volunteers, Pranav (who left Google) to volunteer with us for 4 months and Raghu who holds a masters degree in VLSI design and embedded systems. Pranav generated interest in children to work on mobile apps and helped with the visualization software for children to track their progress.

Multiplication tables
We identified multiplication tables as one of the stumbling blocks in children’s ability to do calculations. This in turn made children feel they were not good at Mathematics. We attempted to use Vaughn Cube methodology including the videos and soon found that it was exhausting for children. We adapted it by creating laminated sheets for the objects that need to be mastered so children could touch feel and work with the sheets instead of watching videos. We also identified where the children needed help and focused on these. Many children who struggled with the tables have been able to master it now.

About us
We are eight engineers working with children in STEM Land. Three of our team members are going through a D.El.Ed program. We use leadership tools to maximise growth of children and us. We have presented a paper on STEM Land in epi-STEME6. We spend 3 hrs a day volunteering at schools and the rest learning and working on programming and electronics.

Learn more
www.auraauro.com

To Support
sanjeev.r@auroville.org.in