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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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