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.
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.
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.
We had a visitor named Ravi Alugnati a very respected resource person in Math and Science languages and also does puppetry hands on activities. He showed us some of the things he had built in Kirigami We made different shapes both in Kirigami(cutting paper) and Origami(olding paper) with his guidance. The 8th and 9th graders of Udavi and some children in Isai Ambalam also enjoyed making different shapes. I found Origami little bit tougher than Kirigami as the steps to build a shape/object is more complex. I also got a feedback from him about my teaching when I was taking class for the 3rd graders in Isai Ambalam. The feedback was useful.
Kirigami : Ravi guiding the 9th graders in making a ball..
Origami : Fan, bird and a frog.. some objects we had made
Udavi 9th graders after finishing their ball
Isai Ambalam children working on kirigami
Isai Ambalam children working on kirigami
Some shapes we had made
Some shapes we had made
Ball made using 6 strips of paper
Balls made after cutting out three rectangular papers
We started of by creating a ball that included folding of paper and interlinking different pieces. Shiva(teacher at isaiambalam school) and Pranav (Volunteer at STEMland) had jointed the workshop. During these sessions everyone was very focused, and figuring out how to link the different pieces together to form the object.
Ravi had also brought with him 3D shapes that personally dazzled me there where cubes that could be rotated and would again reform the cube.
Naveen had planned a trip to Auro orchard with the isaiambalam school children. There were two groups. One were interested in the getting to know about the honey bees and the other on methods of bed techniques.
Uma Ramanan a member of the farm introduced us to Auro Orchard, the first farm designed to sustain Aurovilles people back in time.
The day started by looking at raised bed technique and types of vegetables that they have grown.
Children were able to seen how much the production had increased due to the raised beds. (On an avg a turmeric plan can only produce 300gm of product but here they were able to collect up to few Kg)
The Papayas they have are not hybrid varieties the seeds can be used to grow new saplings.
This flower has medicinal values (kills germs and is antibiotic in nature) and are loved by honey bees as they grow through out the year.
Then came the honey bees, Uma explained that the bees are farmers most important friend as they are the major pollinators, and they don’t use them to collect honey in the farm. but recently a bee hive had vacated the trunk as it had over grown its population and moved out. Hence they had to empty the wax.
Then the children had a group discussion on the the life cycle of bees.
And at last they were able to see the bee hives that were in the farm 🙂 .
The children had a wonderful time, and are eager for another visit to the farm.
Children wanted to make a recycling water system to water the magic garden. We thought of using the waste water from the kitchen to water the plant since so much of water is daily used to wash the vessels, clean vegetables etc. To know the amount of water used daily for the kitchen we need to know the volume of the tank. Kavitha told that the volume of the kitchen tank was 2000 L.
To make sure of what we know already we measured the height and circumference of the cylindrical tank in order find the volume of the tank.
- To measure the height of the tank we used a bamboo stick.
- Children marked the height of the tank on the bamboo stick.
Measure Circumference to determine radius:
- We used thread to know the circumference.
Children took the thread around the circular shaped ring and marked on the thread.
- The challenging part was we was not able to find the measuring tape. Then we came up with an idea to use the metre scale chiildren already used.
We found that the height of the tank was approx 3 m and Circumference to be around 3.14 m.
Through this we found out that the radius was half a meter.
Finally we found out that the tank volume was approximately 2355 L.
This might be an error with calculating the circumference of the circle because we found the distance outside the ring and not inside.
Measuring the circumference of the circle with the one meter scale and the left over part was measured using a 30 cm scale
From Left: Ajay, Gurumoorthy, Pravin, Kalai
Children measuring the length of the bamboo stick to measure the height of the tank. They used the same thread to measure the length. They marked 3 m on the thread in order to do this
Children calculating the volume of the tank
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.
- Epiphytes (Plants that has the roots outside the soil.)
- Xerophytes (Plants that grow in dry areas. (Eg., Cactus))
- Semiphytes (Plants that grow in land.)
- Parasites (Plants that grow on other plants and trees.)
- Hydrophytes (Plants that grow in fresh water.)
- 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
Explaining about the root
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