Nethra Kulothungan, a Chudar intern, helped prepare science kits for students through extensive research for the education centers. Below, she shares her experience behind gathering information and materials to kick-start the project.
The Tamil Nadu State textbook in science has over 120 activities and experiments that students can try either in class or at home. However, the concern is that most students do not get the opportunity to try them for various reasons. Some of the activities cannot be performed in class or at home as they take many days to complete. For instance, the textbook contains an activity that shows germination. Activities that take more than a few hours to show results are not practical to try out even though they might show great results in the end. Some experiments require equipment such as gas Bunsen burners that might not work in schools and centers. Therefore, from the list of over 120 activities, I selected 18 that were both interesting and feasible.
The next step was to list the materials needed to perform them and try the activities before handing over the finished kit. This was a difficult task, as the textbook did not clearly mention the materials needed. With a broad list, I went to procure the materials from a science store and a supermarket. Once I had the materials in hand along the method to perform the experiments, I started to try them out. I realized as I tried them, that many activities needed to be tweaked to make them more interesting. For instance, an activity that tested whether honey is pure or not will be more interesting if we also used impure honey. I found a similar experiment online, which used sugar syrup, to compare it to honey. Hence, I made sugar syrup at home and tried the experiment with both honey and sugar syrup. I am also working on a manual of instructions for teachers on the materials needed for each experiment and what to expect from the experiment.
On the last day of my internship at Chudar, everyone in the office tried the experiments together. One thing I realized that day is that, if adults can have so much fun doing the experiments, children will have a lot more fun while they learn science. The most important aspect of the kit is that it is solely based on the activities listed in the textbook. The hope is that by providing a working kit of experiments from the textbook, with a manual of instructions and all the material needed in one-box, teachers will have the incentive to try them in class. Children will not only learn about various experiments, they will also see them and try them.
About the Author
Nethra Kulothungan was an intern for Chudar during the summer of 2016. She currently attends Carleton University in Canada, studying Public Affairs and Policy Management (Development Studies).