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 otherchild 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 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
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
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 theenthusiasm 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.
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.
Pranav (who left Google) to volunteer with us for 4 months generated interest in children to work on mobile apps. Children in STEM land have created mobile applications on MIT app inventor. Children felt easy to buit an app by coding as they are used to do using scratch. He also helped with the visualization software for children track their progress. He supported children to record their projects to present during the inauguration of i-SMART class. He was very friendly with children but then he had to leave. The day before he had to leave, we asked him few questions and the answers he gave are https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rS6uQmeX-U&feature=youtu.be
On Tuesday 9th and 10th had activity class. Children from 10th wanted to make a magnifying glass. They took a plastic bottle and carefully cut out two circles. They joined those two circles at the edge using glue gun and left a small gap. They dip it into a glass of water and filled it. But they found that the water was leaking. They tried it again using Fevistick. Their exploration creative ideas were really inspiring. With the remaining parts of the water bottle that was been cut were been joined together and formed a mini water bottle.They put some mud inside the bottle and kept a flower and few grass and made it as a flower vase.
On the other hand a 9th student had a mobile phone which was not working. He found that the battery was not charging properly.One of the wire that goes to the battery was broken. He soldered it and charged the battery and turned it on. It was great to see that the mobile gave and sound and turned on. He called everyone who were there in the room and showed them that he made it to work. He was so happy to see that it was working.
On Saturday we inaugurated the Ismart class room in Udavi. 9Th std children from Udavi and children from Isai Ambalam had a sleep over on Friday to decorate the place. Children from Isai Ambalam brought their projects to demonstrate during the inauguration. They were so excited to see the Ismart room. They kept all the chairs out and cleaned the room. Then they all went to STEM Land and brought all the electronics components and the materials to the smart room. Also they took the mindstorm and the games with them and kept in the room. All the children and the facilitators played a game where they were split into pairs and shared three things about them to their partner. Then each one of us got up and shared about our partner to everyone in the circle . It was really great to play the game through which the children from Isai Ambalam and Udavi came to know about each other and formed a good relationship between themselves. Then children shared what they learned and enjoyed in STEM Land and they explained how the mindstorm works.
They played games and were enjoying. They even chose their place in the room to present their projects for the next morning. Later everyone had dinner and got freshen up and watched a Ratatouille movie. Then it was time to sleep and everyone went to sleep. The next morning children got freshen up and split their work among themselves. Some of them decorated the the place using colour papers and some of them made a Rangoli in front of the room and beautifully coloured it. It was interesting to see children taking up responsibility by themselves and giving their best. The inauguration was from 10.30 to 2.00. By 10.30 A.M 8th std children came with their projects and games and organised their place. They decorated the Rangoli with colourful flowers and inaugurated the room by lighting up the candle. Every one were informed the purpose of the I-smart class and each one of the children, facilitator, volunteer and guest lit up a candle and started the day. It was nice to see all the candles floating on the water gently as everyone went around the room and explored their learning. Children gave lot of effort to complete their projects and to record them. Their recorded projects were played on the projector and children were challenging the guest and the volunteers to play games with them which was the fun part. A volunteer who came to learn programming had also did a project in scratch and presented it. Isai Ambalam children showed their EBD on honey bee and their bamboo torch, Udavi children showed their mindcuber which solves Rubik cube, mobile applications that they have created, visual representation of algebraic identities, puzzles and games. The I-smart class was filled with technology and logical thinking which inspired everyone. Then everyone had some snacks. Then the 9th and 7th graders came with their projects and replaced 8th graders. They lit up the candles one by one and started their presentations. Everyone enjoyed the day and were really impressed by children’s growth and their interest towards technology and logical thinking.
We usually have visitors to STEM Land and this week around 20 trainees of the Puchki program(trains teachers to take up environmental aspects) in Auroville had come to STEM Land. They were so excited to see what the children were doing in STEM Land. They were also happy to see how things were organized in STEM and how children learn. They said that, the way children worked here had really inspired them to learn more. Children solved the rubrics cube, demonstrated Lego mindstorm and showed their projects made in Scratch and Geogebra and also explained to them how what they did works. The visitors also put on their logical thinking hats and worked on a few cast puzzles. They saw some children de-soldering the old project kits at the soldering station also asked a few questions to the children about it. The room was filled with lots of energy and eagerness to learn and there I realized the purpose of STEM Land to learn, grow and teach.
Children from 8th were learning algebra and had difficulties with the sign operations. They were able to come up with stories of multiplying minus into plus, plus into minus and plus into plus but they couldn’t come up with a story of minus into minus. They asked the volunteers and facilitators to tell a story for it but they couldn’t get the right story for it. Sanjeev gave a story and explained how negative value multiplied with negative value becomes positive. Children even tried the story on the staircase. They closed their eyes and walked backward (negative) and facing down the staircase (negative) and when they opened their eyes they saw themselves climbed few steps up(Positive). They were excited and were able to implement it on their algebraic equations. They had fun while learning it.
Scratch program that randomly takes two numbers and does the same story.
In STEM Land 9th std children were very eager to do the Quad copter. They wanted to do something different which inspires themselves as well others. We are building an i-smart class room and the 9th std children wanted to paint the room themselves so they stayed the night at the school and painted the room. After the painting they saw a Movie called October sky. By seeing the Movie children got inspired and first thought of building a rocket, but then settled down to build the quadcopter. They felt that since they are in 9th std and would be busy next year with the board examinations they should make full use of STEM Land this year and do something interesting. They thought of it and came up with an idea of making a Quadcopter. They started researching online and looking at videos and worked out the parts they needed to build a quadcopter.They took a DVD and carefully cut it with equal sides and placed the RF control receiver board, four motors and their propellers on it and soldered them. Children used the Big shot camera battery from STEM Land and connected it to the receiver. While connecting the battery and the receiver a pin broke.They traced the pins and soldered connectors and fixed the problem. They figured out to connect the transmitter with the receiver by keeping the transmitter and the receiver so close to each other and pressed the button and waited for few seconds and connected it. They were so happy and eager to finish it and were working on it even during their break. They have almost completed assembling the Quadcopter and now they are working on it to make it fly. Currently it hovers a few cm from the ground before loosing contact with the transmitter. The 8th and 7th children were also looking at it enthusiastically and enjoyed.