Article about STEM Land in Auroville Today – Dec 2015

ALICE IN STEMLAND

All you need to be a poet in Sanjeev’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Land is a love of solving problems and abstractions. A bit of madness helps as well. This is what one finds in this cosy and open space at the top floor of Udavi school, where a few youth and a bunch of children come together to co-learn programming in ALICE (a 3D programming language), electronics, strategy games and much more.

Having earned a Doctoral degree in Electronics and spending most of his life designing chips for a living, Sanjeev is an Aurovilian whose relationship with children’s education and Auroville go back 13 years when he met Subash and Lourdes at an educational conference and came to visit Auroville schools. Subsequent conversations around the exisiting plethora of pedagogical techniques helped shape the initial ideas for the STEM Land. It took 11 more years and an experience in Vipassana for Sanjeev to move to Auroville to test his ideas.

Initially, he began volunteering in the schools in Auroville, teaching Maths and Electronics and sticking to what a ‘good’ teacher does – being familiar with the textbooks and find ways for fun learning within the curriculum. During this time he happened to meet a donor of old laptops to the school. Sanjeev recounts, “The donor asked us if the old laptops were being put to any use and if the computer lab was functional. What do you do in your computer lab,” he asked, and I realised I didn’t know.’ This got me thinking. In a country with around 3.5 lakh computer labs, the children were often using them as a personalised television or to play games – but even the educational games are not entirely convincing in terms of their actual purpose.”

After letting the kids ‘meddle’ with the old laptops and using them to create programmable hardware, Sanjeev finally decided to experiment and start his own ‘lab’. It was during this time he met Bala, an Auroville youth, who along with Sundar and Vaidegi started working on educational interventions in January. Their experiences led them to set up the STEM Land in Udavi school this October. They were inspired by The Stewardship for New Emergence workshop offered by Dr.Monica Sharma and are supported by Aura Semi-Conductors Ltd. to create this space for children, where the classroom intervention was reformulated into enabling children to lead their learning environment rather than be passive recipients. This is in accordance with Sri Aurobindo’s principle that ‘nothing can be taught’.

Currently, STEM Land comprises not only Sanjeev, Bala, Sundar (Auroville youth) and Vaidegi (a youth from the bio-region) but also others like Naveen, another Auroville youth. He frequents the place to volunteer as well as learn aspects of electronics through classes that Sanjeev offers once a week for adults. Though most youngsters leave Auroville or their villages, the youth with Sanjeev are the ones who want to stay back and find meaningful pursuit in their home places.

For Sanjeev, it is essential to retain youngsters and create a workforce to support the electronic infrastructure of a city, which Auroville’s aims to become. With this belief he continues his work in STEM Land, offering programming lessons in Scratch, Blender, ALICE, along with over hundreds of learning resources like strategy games, and books. The classes combine older and younger children from grades 5 to 9, and volunteer teachers are expected to aide them with their requests rather than coming-up with lesson plans. The children have already come a long way in this experiment, with most taking responsibility for choosing their own study topics and finding the means to learn them. Anita, one of the students from Isai Ambalam, particularly enjoys her time in STEM Land, where she recently started using ALICE, finding it amazing to create animations using codes.

It’s high time we shift from our chalk-and-talk teaching method, and explore shared learning experiences and methods in classrooms”, Vaidegi says. Co-learning and facilitating the experiential learning techniques in STEM Land helps the children understand their subject even more and makes this shared experience rewarding and enjoyable.

In a country with a booming population and increasingly unproductive child-to-teacher ratios, especially in rural environments, innovative experiments like Sanjeev’s are glimpses of alternatives that could make a real difference in our education system.

episteme 6 – Mumbai

We attended a conference on STEM education in Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mumbai (Dec 15 – Dec 18, 2015) . Several papers were presented. But the one that stood out for me(or maybe those that I understood completely ie, excluding our paper!) was the one on Action Research. I liked it because I could in some ways connect to it. It little bit reminded of the things that happen when I am in class. It was about a needle worker cum teacher trying to bring the students under control. She got help from her facilitator to tackle the issue. I liked it very much. The other one I found interesting was the one about Stemland leadership and fellowship programme(held in the States). It was about a programme for teachers where they were asked do to various activities.

We here at Aura Auro Design have conversations about our classes and children, which I thought was very much similar to Action Research. I learnt from this conference that documenting the work we do in STEM land is important.

Tkinter Toplevel Widget

The Toplevel widget work pretty much like Frame, but it is displayed in a separate, top-level window. Such windows usually have title bars, borders, and other “window decorations”.

The Toplevel widget is used to display extra application windows, dialogs, and other “pop-up” windows.

ref: http://effbot.org/tkinterbook/toplevel.htm

Debugging of Harmonium Circuit

Maker space of STEM land is used for building new things based on Electrical or Electronics ( sometimes 3D). As the first step, students started to learn soldering using veda kits (soldering kits).  One of students ( Yuvaraj, from 8th grade) soldered the kit of Harmonium. Unfortunately that did not work. So we simulated the circuit first in order to make sure there is no bug in that kit design. As expected no bug in the design.

Harmonium@4khz
Harmonium@4khz
Harmonium@2.6khz
Harmonium@2.6khz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harmonium simulation file.

Then started debugging the circuit and found the bug in placement of the IC ( Flipped). Now Yuvaraj happy!!!!.

Name Board of Stem Land

On the day of inauguration students ( Yuvaraj & Preethika) built seven segment display to display “STEMLAND” using arduino without any pre plan (fig-1). Then some of the students (Anushwathi, Praveen, Sundar, Sharmila) wanted to make it as name board for Stemland by soldering it properly(Fig-2).

IMG_20151009_121819674
Fig-1
StemLand
Fig-2

In addition to that, There is another name board  available for the Stemland ( second door) which was made using 3D printer.

Stemland

Using Blender

To print using the 3D printer, we require a software which has 3D graphics and animation. I used blender, an open software that is supported in Ubuntu. Can be downloaded form the following link.

x x11

https://www.blender.org/download/

The 3D printer recognises .stl files as input and builds on them .

some useful keys to use in blender:

Shift A – add objects
Tab – edit / object mode
Space – tool selection
S – Scale
A – select all in edit mode
C – select object tool
Alt  + Shift – select all
B – box select
R – rotation, can be applied with axis, + (degrees)
E – extrude, can be applied with axis
Z – Mesh mode / solid
Shift + D – duplicate object
G – Grab can be performed along any axis, and scaling also included
Ctrl B – Bevel smooth edges
Ctrl R – Loop cut
Ctrl ‘+’ – Mesh select

View:

Camera – Numpad 0
Top – Numpad 7
Bottom – Ctrl + numpad 7
Front – Numpad 1
Back – Ctrl + numpad 1
Right – Numpad 3
Left – Ctrl + numpad 3

Subdivide mesh:

1.Edit mode
2.Tools
3.Add

Project a hole or shape in a object:

1.shift + A, choose – curve – circle
2.place where u want it to be
3.on top of another object to be cut
4.Shift and select other object
5.change to edit mode
6.project knife
7.and delete the face

Solidify object:

1.edit mode
2.select faces
3.space select solidify

blender

Totto-Chan

I finally finished reading this book. Its about the life of a little girl in japan. I thoroughly enjoyed every part from the book and how everything was described. Loved the the two characters – Totto Chan and her Headmaster. It was a little bit saddening towards the end for me but I guess that’s how life goes sometimes. Recommend everyone to read it. I haven’t read many books but I felt that this is one awesome book!

TottoChan

Alice Program

Alice is a programming which support the creation of 3D animation. Student can create a program to animate his or her own imaginative environment ( people, animals, objects & places). A student (Rathinavel) from 8 grade made a program in Alice ( find below) . He created a  program which visualize the environment of  seashore and the sea. Indeed, he is the first student who did full fledged program in  Alice.