Author Archives: Prathap Ganasan

Patterns with 2nd standard

In Isai Ambalam school 2nd graders had a difficulty in finding the pattern. When I use Dienes blocks and jodo cubes to identify the patterns. I asked the children to arrange the cubes in different orders that they have seen it in real life. I split  them into two groups and asked them to arrange th cubes in patterns. They started doing that and then shared how they arranged the numbers from 1 – 10.  When I used the Dienes block it was difficult for them to tell how many blocks are used visually. Then I used Jodo blocks it was big and they were in different colors. Children were able to tell the different patterns. They were able to see it visually and they were able to draw it on a paper.  They helped each other to identify the pattern. They were able to tell the different patterns that they saw in their house.



Isai Ambalam Pond

In Isai Ambalam school for one week there was no water. The bore water didn’t work. We started having a conversation how to over come this problem. During that week it rained a lot. Since it is a slope the water didn’t stay there. The ground was wet. Children wanted build a pond. They started digging the behind Sanjeev’s house. They measured the length of the pond. Then they started digging the pond. After digging they wanted to cement it. Children started buying bricks and cement bags. During sleep over we started cementing the pond and it was really a good experience with children.

We started with the first layer of cement and let it to dry. Then fixed chicken mesh on top of the first layer. We added mesh to prevent cracks. Then again we started add cement as a third layer. Then the pond didn’t look nice without a boundary. So we bought bricks with the children and started making a cylinder shape. Finally we smoothen it with cement. After that we wanted to leave make a sitting bench. We built a sitting bench.

Then we inaugurated the pond by leaving the fish in the pond. We also estimated how much cement bags were used. We learnt to find the volume of the cement bag and the pond. We also learnt to use the mason tools. Children were able to do in a group and everyone had equal opportunities to share their work.

Vaughn Cube

During Maths class children were having difficulty in telling tables quickly. Our children were able to tell tables in order but it was difficult when it was random. So we started using Vaughn cube. Vaughn cube is a set of videos which help children to tell tables quickly. We started using the it with 3rd and 4th graders. At first children felt interesting. It middle they felt it was boring because the videos were so long. Then we started to use cards that has been taken from the video. when they started with 3 table they couldn’t tell the  number or answer in 3 table. Later when they started noticing the pattern. They when i asked some question they use to tell the object that is present between two number. Once they know all the object they use to jump here and there to tell the answer. They really felt happy that they were tell all the tables from 1 – 10.  To tell the tables they need to know 28 objects. Next they need to know between which number certain object should come . Once they knew that they were able to tell tables. If we follow the instruction in the video it will be boring. Vaughn cube should be used in short time and if extended for long time children feels boring. Children wont  wait for the  teacher to ask the tables. They them self  pair together and ask tables in random order.


Inauguration of clay room


The Roof was built with slabs that were attached together with bindings, and sealed off with some material that had become torn and corroded. Thus making rain water seep in. The solution was covering the cracks with tar sheets. Naveen had got the excess sheets from the repair works at Aura Auro Design’s Lab. He also got a Flame thrower that was antique 😉 (We along with the children had a time figuring out how to light it up) It was a manual tool we had to compress air and it would send out a mixture of kerosene and air that would burn. eventually 🙂 . The children started to measure and cut out the tar sheets from a roll. Naveen  and the children placed the sheets and heated them to stick on the roof with the flame thrower.

We hope this will prevent rain water from seeping in. The roof was then painted with a bright yellow oil paint. We bought 6 liters of oil paint. Children started painting during their sleepover. It took two evenings to paint 2 coat of painting on the roof.

Painting Inside:



The room was now ready to be inaugurated on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. We had as our chief guest, Swami Sarvasahananda from Ramakrishna Mission, Chengalpattu. He graced our space with his blessings, talk and music. That morning the school was abuzz with activity. Children had stayed over the previous night to participate in the dawnfire meditation. When we came from there, we were working on decorating the clay room. Garlands were made, photos of Sri Aurobindo, Mother, Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda were decorated. Lamps were kept ready for the opening. Children with help from their teachers got the PA system ready. The harmonium and tabla were arranged. Gopal from Mantra pottery joined us that morning to do clay work. It was a session that children and adults enjoyed. The Swamiji lit the lamp and invited the teachers to do the same. Once the lamps were lit, we all connected with the Divine Mother through songs that the Swamiji and children sang. For those who could remember how forlorn the room had been, it was touching to see how the same little room was shining with all of us invoking the Divine.

As one of the facilitators in creating our clay room, I witnessed the transformation of a space we had neglected over the years into a bright space that we look at every day. That we can transform our environment with one-pointed concentration, team-work, openness to learn, consecration of our work to the Divine are learnings that will stay with us and reveal themselves to us as and when we are ready to understand them.

When I was working with the children in the clay room I learnt to be patient. Involved all the children and gave equal opportunities to all the children. Learnt team work from the children. I saw sharing and caring from the children while working as a team for my self and for others.

Clay room

Painting Outside:

Third graders took responsibility to paint outside. This being a room for clay and woodwork, we wanted to paint it with a natural brownish red-soil color. We inquired with a few painters and once they understood our idea, they all suggested extracting the color from red-soil and binding it with Fevicol. Children in 5,6 and 7 stay over in school on Wednesdays. One Thursday morning, we went with pands and mumpties and collected red soil.

Once the soil was on hand, the third graders sieved it. Water was added to the soil and mixed well. This had to be filtered to extract the color. For the filter, we used some of the cloth bags we receive in grocery stores that don’t use plastic any more. We tool 4 liters of the red-soil water and mixed it with 2 liter of Fevicol. Fevicol made the paint thick. We painted the wall and as it dried up, the wall looked beautiful with hues of orange, red and yellow. We wanted a darker shade since we planned to paint patterns on the wall inspired by Warli art. So for the next coat, we added some brown water color that was on hand. A lovely dark shade was the result. The room is hexagonal giving us six panels to paint on. Over a few evenings after school, teachers and students painted patterns on the wall. We have a panel with a tree and a deer on a full moon night. One more with the Matrimandir, Banyan tree and children visiting there. Some of the paintings did not come well and we painted over them to create a fresh new wall to paint over.

Wooden Torch in Isai STEM land

In Isai Ambalam school children waned to make different types of lights to use it during sleep over. It took 2 to 3 weeks  to build a nice wooden torch. So they started cutting the bamboo during STEM land period. Once they cut the bamboo they  started to build the circuit on a bread board and then started soldering  with wires. Then they made hole in the bamboo with a drill to fix a switch. Then for the front part they really wanted to use some cone shape and to fix the LED. At first they use a waste water bottle. They cut the bottle and took the cone shape but it didn’t last for long time. It also didn’t look good. Then they were struggling with chart paper to make a head for the torch. Then students got some ideas like that what all can be made with bamboo. Some wanted to build a study lamp. These things were made  4th and 5th grades. Three girls thought it is very difficult to build a torch. When some students started to build a study lamp these girls got inspired and they also started to build a torch. When they finish making the torch Monica came to visit STEM land they presented this torch to her. Monica gave a beautiful words for those kids. I also added a image with the words from Monica.                                         

Automating the bore well motor.

We had a serious  water problem in isai Ambalam school. We built a pond as a EBD project with the children. Then we realized that water is very precious. From that day we are aware of water. Then one day children noticed that the tank was over flowing. They came and asked how to turn off the motor automatically. I told them that I don’t know how to do that. Then they asked me that I studied Electronics  and  became an engineer couldn’t solve this problem. Then finally I wanted it to be automated. Through this process I learnt about relay. I was afraid to work with 230 volts and it was the first time for me to work with direct 230 volt.

Pebble Garden

Children from Isai Ambalam school went to visit Pebble garden. There he explained how to do mulching step by step. He explained how to do a bed and its size. First we have to collect dry leaves and branches. Then dip them in the water started to build a bed. Make a thin layer of with the dry leaves and add soil on top of the leaves. Do it for three time then add charcoal at the third layer. Again do the same process 4 time . Add charcoal in the 6  and 9 layer. After that he explained hoe to treat the charcoal. After doing mulching we have to wait for 2 month and then only we can use it for planting. Finally he explained the process of  vermiculture. It was an interesting trip to learn about mulching and about vermiculture.



Fixing the tube light in Isai Ambalam

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.

Water Level Indicator

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.