Category Archives: STEM Land

The Microscopic Inventor:

As the children were preparing their project for Sir.C.V.Raman contest. Kabilan from 9th grade can to me and asked to me if there were any laser lights he could use. I showed him were the lights were. I asked him “what are you going to do with it?”. He replied “I am going to build a microscope with it”. I was curious about how he is going to build and microscope with it. I thought it is going to be complicated to do it. So , I decided to help him with Bala,Hemasundar(9th grade). He just took the lens which he got from the laser light and placed it on top of the camera on the cellphone and thats all! The microscope is done. To test, first we placed a leaf on the lens and saw the microscopic image on the phone. Next we saw a spider skeleton,flower.. I was inspired on how we can build a microscope using a lens from the laser. We had a lot of fun.

Earth Day (comes later)

We found some trash on the way to Isai Ambalam school. We (STEM land team) decided to clean the place. As there was some excitement in what we were up to the children also joined us in cleaning.

Pictures tell rest of the story.


What it looked like after we picked up the trash

We made a factory line up where we cleaned and dried the plastic and were able to dry it and stack and segregate it.

When we were drying it out the children imagined that this is what a city from the sky could look like.

ISMART Class in Udavi

– Pratap

We set up a new smart board for our iSMART class room. Children came from STEM land to the ISMART room and they saw the smart board. Children were so excited to see the smart board class room. They were sharing how they solved the questions in their Maths annual examination. When Sanjeev was writing on the smart board with his finger children were very excited and they all tried using the smart board.

They discussed every question and gave turn for each children to explain when they know answer for the question. 9th graders were able to use the smart board. We are looking forward for various opportunities to use the smart board for its fullest  potential. I was really impressed when children were using the smart board. I didn’t  get such opportunities when I was studying in school.


We still need a lot of explorations before figuring out how to use it effectively. But, look forward to the new schooling year to put it to full use.

Iffat in Isai Ambalam

– Logeshwari

Iffat from Bangladesh came along with her friend to Isai Ambalam School. She completed her Vipassana meditation in Chennai and came to Auroville. She is a writer and involved in arts. Initially she visited Udavi School and then came to Isai Ambalam. Pratap and I were showing and explaining the EBD (Education By Design) that children made. We showed all the EBDs like pond, clay room, tree house, clay oven, India map, vegetable garden and Kitchen waste water treatment. Tree house was explained by the Josh who made this initiative possible in school. Both of them climbed the tree house and enjoyed it.

Students had their examinations at that time. The sixth and seventh graders built a small India map, which was an assessment for them. Two hours was allocated for them to complete it and they completed with five minutes to spare. Then they project was assessed by Ragu. Then later Iffat and her friend interacted with children.

Babaji Vidhyashram School visit to Isai Ambalam and Udavi

—Pratap, Poovizhi

A group of 44 teacher came to visit Isai Ambalam. Sanjeev, Logeshwari, Saranya and Pratap welcomed them. Sanjeev started introducing about the school and what we deeply care about the children.

Then we each explained Some of the EBD that children made. Saranya took them to the pond and explained the history of the pond.Pond

Then I took them to the clay room and explained about the clay room Clay Room. During this time the children were not their at the school. They went to visit Matrimandir and they came back while I was explaining about the clay room. The moment children came inside the school I felt that they got blessing from the Mother since they visited Matrimandir.

Then children took initiative to explain about their EBD projects. They started with the tree house. They explained in English and it really touched me to see how much the children had progressed in the last year to be confident in front of 40 teachers to talk so confidently . They explained the entire process that took to build the tree house. Tree house

Then they took the teachers  to the clay oven that they built during sleepover Clay oven. They also explained about the India map EBD. Yuvasri and Kaviya from 6th standard explained about the India map India Map.


Then they took them to the garden EBD and Sabari and Suresh from 7th standard explained about the garden Garden EBD.

Then Logeshwari explained about the Kitchen waste water EBD. She answered the questions  when the teacher asked to her Kitchen waste water.

Finally all the teacher visited the class room and interacted with the teachers and students.

The UKG students told the months when the teacher were asking to them. The 6th and 7th took them to their class and showed the 5S circle that they do in their class room. They also showed the Mindstorm robot that they built in STEM land.


They also showed that they submitted projects for Raman Award and got a participant certification. Then they sang a song for teacher.


Ayush from 7th standard presented the project in Scratch.


Then Saranya took the teacher to the STEM land and explained what we do in STEM land. She explained the ground rules and the check in check out system that we follow in STEM land.

In Udavi

They came to Udavi after their lunch. We gave a presentation on STEM land in the i-SMART class room. They also attended the stewardship session held by Sanjeev. During the session teachers were able to find what they stand for and also were able to find their fear.

Every teacher was able to process what they really care about and found what they stand for. The teachers were happy and also took the stand and fear chart to put it on their notice board in their school.

STEM land Newsletter Jan-Mar 2018


STEM Land Newsletter

Volume-2, Jan-MAR 2018

About STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) land

STEM land resource centres are located in Udavi School and Isai Ambalam School, two outreach schools of Auroville. Children come to STEM Land for Math, EVS and science classes.They learn Mathematics, Electronics, 3D Printing, Programming, Mindstorms (Robotics) and play strategic games that enhance logical thinking. The elder children take responsibility for their learning and plan their goals. They only ask for support when needed. This self-directed learning is based on Sri Aurobindo’s first principle of education, “Nothing can be taught”. With younger children we work on real life projects that impact their surroundings. We believe a nurturing environment can support a child’s learning and taking responsibility of his or her learning.

epiSTEME-7 conference

We went to Mumbai from Jan 5th-8th and presented a poster at epiSTEME7 conference in HBCSE (Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education). Many educators and academics from different countries had come and presented their research and review papers at the conference.

The conference was about research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. We wrote a paper on “Fostering Responsibility in Learning in Rural Schools”. We were told that we were the busiest booth throughout the 2 hour poster session. Five of us from STEM land – Aura Auro Design attended the conference. While in Mumbai we also presented this work at IIT Mumbai and TISS.

Skype call with children in Italy

Children from Bianco-Pascoli of Fasano in Italy had a special day for the use of digital at their school. 7th and 8th grade children from Udavi school had a skype conference with them. Children shared their projects on scratch, Geogebra, the models they printed from the 3D printer, an inverter, Vaughn cube and Mindstorm robots. Children from Italy enjoyed watching the projects and were excited when they saw the Mindstorm robots. Children from Udavi also enjoyed sharing their work to the other school children.

Learning Festival

Learning Festival was a large event organized by Azim Premji Foundation for over 6000 government school children with many facilitating groups at Indira nagar Higher Secondary School , Pondicherry. It was a four-day workshop and we hosted workshops on two days. We had 45 minutes with around 30 children each on basic electronics. We asked children to write their names using seven-segment displays. Two children from Isai Ambalam school supported us and handled a couple of session along with us. We had three sessions on the first day and six on the second.

We showed them an example circuit that showed a name. We then introduced them to a multimeter and using it asked them to decode which pin lights up which of the segments of the display. Once they figured out the pin connection we introduced the bread board to them and asked them to connect the seven segment displays on the bread board and light up the initial of the names of all the team members or their name.

A student named John who came for the first session couldn’t complete his name and got special permission and came the next day. He was able to light up his name and started to support other children. The teachers who came along with the children also sat with them and learnt to display the letters using the seven segment displays. In the evening the chief education officer came to meet us and saw John’s work. It was an inspiring moment.

Stewardship workshop for 7th and 8th grade children in Udavi

We conducted Stewardship for new emergence workshop with 7th and 8th grade children in Udavi School. Children were able to find what they stand for and learnt to work from possibilities rather than fear.

They went through the tools including stand, fear, four profiles, Deep listening and background conversations, system thinking, creativity. Every week we conduct triads with children which provides them an opportunity to reflect on where they have used these tools in their daily life.


10 principals

About 22 principals of various schools from Mind Mingle had come to visit schools in and around Auroville. They were split into groups and one of the groups with 10 principals came to STEM land.

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 chappal. They looked at the Montessori materials.

In 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 and gave them some cast puzzles to solve. Some of them played games along with the children. It was interesting to see children sharing their learningwith the principals from various states without any hierarchies. Each principal said they learnt something from the children and 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 at her school.

Courses conducted

We conducted a basic VLSI course. Around 16 participants in and around Auroville came to learn.

We focused on Digital layout. We did an inverter and simulated it using LT spice. Built the logic gates using DM74S00N and bread board and tested whether the logics were appropriate. We layed out an inverter using Magic and layed out XOR gate using NAND gates. The next course will be on Analog layout.

Sinthanai Sangamam

Sinthanai Sangamam is an annual symposium on education that happened on 21/02/2018 in Puducherry. Around 600 teachers from different places have participated. We presented our paper about STEM land in Isai Ambalam School and the EBDs we do with children. People shared their experience of interacting with the children, the methods they follow in their school, projects their students have done and how we can connect to science and maths in our real life.


This quarter, we had around 82 visitors and 34 children to STEM land.

Government school teachers visit

Around 37 government school teachers and people from Azim Premji Unversity came for training at STEM land. Some of the teachers had heard our presentation at
Sinthanai Sangamam symposium on “STEM land in Isai Ambalam School”. Some of them were inspired from our talk and they came to visit STEM land. People saw what the children had created at Isai Ambalam school and interacted with the children working on their EBDs.

After that they visited STEM land in Udavi school. Children showed them few projects. The teachers also tried to solve cast iron puzzles. We also conducted a Stewardship session for them following lunch.

Project work

Children did projects on math concepts like Pythagoras theorem, finding squares, Probability, Geometrical concepts and theorems in Scratch, Geogebra and Go animate. They also did projects related to science. Even on a Pongal holiday children wanted to come and do something in electronics. They split into teams and built a microscope by hacking a web cam and the other team made an inverter using Arduino.

Children from both the schools from 5thto 9th grade participated in the Raman Young Science Innovator Award and created science projects. They chose their topics which were given under different grades and innovated their projects on it. Children were active and enthusiastic to complete their projects and submit them. The whole atmosphere for that one week was energetic and busy.

Swati in STEM land

Swati Sircar is a teacher trainer at the Azim Premji University in Bangalore and visited STEM land for a couple of days. She had completed MS in Math, M.Stat., B.Stat. (Hons.), and works with many NGOs and government school teachers. She is keen on hands on activities, explorations, open-ended questions as well as computer aided learning. She is also an origami enthusiast and uses her Montessori exposure in her current work. She came to STEM land and took sessions for the teachers and children on mathematics and showed us to use montessori materials like Ganit mala, Pythagoras theorem, place values and counters for addition and subtraction



Workshop on energy with Transition children

3rd grade children in Transition school are studying about energy and its types. About 19 children came to STEM land to learnt about energy. They learnt about converting electrical energy to light energy. We asked children to light up LEDs and measure how bright they can light up using resistors and batteries. They learnt about +ve and -ve charges and to connect an electrical circuit. Children also enjoyed working with multimeter, 9V battery, resistors and LEDs.

EBD (Education by Design)

EBD(Education by design) is a process in which a real life challenge is given to the children. Once the challenge is given children learn through designing and researching solutions for the challenge. At the end they build a product/model with certain criteria. At Isai Ambalam School we have been looking at education by design including creating an India map and studying and creating models about Geography of India. We also took on real life challenges to reuse kitchen waste water to the garden.India Map EBD (Education by Design)Students from 6th and 7th graders made India map using red soil, clay, bricks, pebbles, sand, alluvial soil, black soil. They created the India map in a 3metre x 3metre area. Each student were given separate parts of the country to draw. By using graph sheets they drew the map of India.

They made the structure of India using clay. But after a couple of days it had cracks. Then students came up with a solution that since the layer of the clay is so thin, it had cracks. We had some remaining soil left after another Education By Design (EBD) projecy where we had constructed a clay kiln, so students used that red soil and created another layer above the clay. By using bricks and red soil students built the mountains. In order to differentiate between desert, mountains and rivers they used different materials. For the rivers they mixed cement with water and built many rivers in the map.

For desert, they used sand. In the eastern parts of the country, they used alluvial soil to demonstrate the rivers taking alluvial soil to the delta before joining the sea. Tasks were properly divided among students and it took about two weeks for them to complete the map. The final output of the map looked good with mountains, rivers and other geographical features. By doing this EBD they learnt the Geography of India.

Auro Sangamam

Auroville celebrated Sangamam where all the workers and their families from the bioregion came together and enjoyed the events. We were allocated a stall for STEM land. Three children from Isai ambalam and 4 children from Udavi came and they set-up the stall. We asked people to display their name or their first letter using the seven segment displays and played games like Abalone, Pylos, Dobble and gave some challenging activities like solving Rubik’s cube and cast iron puzzles. People enjoyed solving puzzles and displaying their names in seven segment displays. We gave a talk about STEM land under unending education in Auroville. After visiting our stall in Sangamam an engineering graduate was interested to learn more about technology and he started to come to STEM land.

Josh had visited STEM land one day and found it interesting. He kept coming back for three months while he was in India. We are happy that his travels have found him back in Auroville and at STEM land.

Josh has taught at Western Washington University and at Seabury Hall, Maui. He has a passion for Maths and in this stint is keen on developing his skills in programming.

Sravan Reddy has studied engineering physics at IIT Delhi. He works at Dimagi, a social development enterprise, as a software engineer. He has been regularly coming to Auroville for inner development and volunteers in STEM land. He visited STEM land and the i-SMART class room and came to know about the courses we conduct for youth in and around Auroville. He is interested in conducting a course on creating good software using Python and designing websites along with Django at STEM land.

Kitchen waste water treatment plant

Kitchen waste water treatment plant is an EBD (Education By Design) and its main objective is to reuse the kitchen waste water for watering the garden. We decided to create the waste water recycling system, in order to reuse kitchen water to water plants.

Through the EBD, children learnt the following
Measurement of Height and Circumference : To measure the height of the tank we used a bamboo stick. Children marked the height of the tank on the bamboo stick. We used a thread to measure the circumference. Children took the thread around the circular shaped ring and marked on the thread. The challenging part was we were not able to find the measuring tape and used the metre scale instead. We found that the height of the tank was 3m and Circumference to be around 3.14m. Through this we found out that the radius was half a meter. Finally we found out that the tank volume was approximately 2355L.

fixed a motor to pump water from the pit. Eventually, the pumped water is used to water the garden. A circuit is connected to the water tank which indicates the rise in the level of the water in the pit.

Concreting the Pond EBD

Children made a pond in their school as an EBD. After 6 month it developed a crack because of the roots from the trees around it. After that we sat with children and had a conversation about the pond. One child asked how about concreting the whole pond.

Then we used 6mm and 8mm iron rods and bent them along the contour of the pond. While bending the rods, children learnt about the the rod size, name of the tools we used, measurement, volume, and ratio.

The bending and cutting of rods were done by the children. We bought 40Kg of 6mm 50Kg of 8mm rods for the pond.

Children made 100 TMT rings to make a beam structure around the pond. After the rod work was done, we bought 1unit of sand, jelly and 10 bags of cement. We hired a mason in the end for mixing the jelly and for smoothing the pond. While doing EBD we used to have question section, during that time we will discuss children’s questions and clarify them. While doing EBD children connected with their theory in their books and understand the concept well.

Vegetable Garden EBD
Children in Isai Ambalam school wanted to make a garden in their school. We had visited Botanical garden and Pebble garden. We saw different ways of making a garden. We wanted to set up a drip irrigation system in the garden using sprinklers. We started planting in the beds we had prepared.

Children from 6th and 7th graders took responsibility to connect sprinklers all over the garden. It was a new experience connecting sprinklers and routing the pipe to our garden. We are starting to see plants coming up in the garden.

Children take turns to water the plants. Now they give all the vegetables that they harvest from the garden to the school kitchen.

Our Team
This quarter Logeshwari, Ranjith and Saranya, all Engineering graduates, joined us as part of an internship program which takes the current team size to 10. They are learning programming and electronics and are supporting children in Isaiambalam to complete the EBDs. They are also working on hands on projects and have attended the VLSI layout course.

Left to right ) Logeshwari, Bala, Arun,Saranya, Pratap, Sanjeev, Naveen, Sundar, Poovizhi, (missing in pic) Ranjith

Contributions can be directed towards

Auroville Unity Fund
(with a note for STEM land)
and mail to Dr.Sanjeev Ranganathan,
STEM land Udavi School, Auroville,
Edayanchavadi, Tamil Nadu – 605101
All donations are 100% tax deductible in India.



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Setting up Cadence and Centos

Install Centos:

Did not work:

  1. Installed Centos 32 bit OS.
  2. We realized that Cadence need CentOS 64 bit OS .

To find the OS and CPU do

  • # lscpu
  • It should give something like this:
    • Architecture:          i686 == this indicates the OS
    • CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit == this indicates the OS


  1. Installed Centos 64 bit OS KDE version. Download LiveCD version with KDE or other desktop (we did KDE)
  2. Somehow we changed KDE to Gnome version of CentOS.
# yum -y groups install “GNOME Desktop”

Note: If you want  to install a KDE version please use the following command:

# yum -y groups install “KDE Plasma Workspaces”

Below link will help you to install various Desktops:

  1. We installed CentOS 7.4

To check what version of Centos you have use the following command:

cat /etc/centos-release


Install Cadence:


  1. We used Iscape to install all the packages needed for Cadence.
    1. Unzip and untar the file in a directory
    2. tar -zxvf IScape04.23-s012lnx86.t.Z
    3. iscape/bin/

This will open up a GUI:

Iscape is a user interface where we can install packages by giving a control file. This control file will have all the packages and will automatically download , install and configure the packages you want.

This is little tricky. When you load in the control file

  1. Search and give control file

In our case the control file was called



In installing we got many errors and we were not able to install the complete package.

Install the latest of everything i.e. HotFix if available

  1. The directory of downloads and installs is


We missed the name of the user so we created another userWe added something to be able to use the UI to add a user.

# sudo yum -y install system-config-users



We need to configure the licenses.

After configuring,

To run Cadence:

Start terminal and type

# csh

# virtuoso

Children building a tree house in their school

– Pratap

The children at Isai Ambalam have been wanting to build a tree house for some time. Josh a volunteer who volunteered at STEM land in the past spent some time at Isai Ambalam and had some experience with building tree houses. He decided to put in an effort and work with the children to get this done.



With the help of the children and some very nice tools Josh brought with him the children were able to help him use the bamboo on campus for the main sections of the tree house. Josh was very impressed at how comfortable and efficient the children at the school are at using tools. In addition, we needed other materials like Pakku Maram and coconut ropes which we bought from the local shops.

One of the earliest activities that the children got involved with was tying up the coconut ropes into quickly usable bundles. This was Josh way of testing if the children could tie things tightly.

Josh also called the tree house community to help with the core aspects of the tree house so it is robust. The children were also asked to imagine how they would like the tree house to be once the tree was selected close to the play area.


Josh came in on a holiday and worked on seasoning some of the bamboo, by burning it and then applying a combination of cashew oil and diesel which keeps termites away. They performed a small pooja at the tree thanking trees for giving us oxygen and supporting life and supporting our Number 54 (the house with a bamboo door) tree house. Josh had also taught the children a song about trees in English and the children sang this song as well.


One of the designs was selected in which the ladder went through the floor in one corner and the machaan would be built there. Within the day there was a framework with bamboo supported in one place by a work tree. Tying the rope for the main structure was hard and only the elder children were able to do this initially. Josh then showed the children how to work with the Pakku Maram. They did this over the next couple of days the children measure cut and created a complete platform and a short keep out wall that makes it feel like you are in a boat in the air.

Another major task was making the ladder and the children were involved with this and in making a small structure at a lower height for the younger children to have something to climb on. Of course, it is impossible to keep anyone off the tree house and everyone wants to be on top of it. Initial work on bamboo, cutting to size, Pakku Maram measuring and cutting. Narrow opening to get in and the boat in the air.

Workshop on energy with Transition children

3rd grade children in Transition school are studying about energy and its types. About 19 children came to STEM land to learnt about energy.

They learnt about converting electrical energy to light energy. We started the session by introducing voltage and showed them different types of batteries and discussed about them. We gave them the multi meters and showed to check the connectivity and to measure the voltage. Children measured the voltage of different types of batteries. Then we asked them to light up LEDs and measure how bright they can light up using resistors and batteries. They learnt about +ve and -ve charges and to connect an electrical circuit. Children were able to light up the LEDs and connected multiple LEDs to light to make it more brighter. Then they had some time and they went around STEM land and played some games and were figuring out to solve the rubik’s cube. Children said that they enjoyed working with multimeter, 9V battery, resistors and LEDs. They were able to connect with what they are studying and enjoyed the practical session.

Presenting at Sinthanai Sangamam

Presenting at Azim Premji’s Sinthanai Sangamam, Puducherry in front 500 odd people about STEM land – EBD in Isai Ambalam was a first time experience for me. The speech was in Tamil which made me even more nervous as I am not supposed to make a mistake in it because it comes a lot of baggage. Whereas if it was in English, I wouldn’t have of thought about it that much. I noticed my fear of judgment and I was able to transcend it. Whatever Arun, Naveen, Saranya and I wanted to convey, we conveyed. I thought that our presentation went well and was well received by the audience. We had teachers from Azim Premji Foundation, Puducherry visit us the following week. I learned to be calm and present during the presentation and was not worried about my fear 🙂