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March 17, 2020 Tuesday 01:44:45 PM IST

Swing with Science

Cover Story

Spending a whole summer, playing on swings, would be any child’s dream vacation. But what if the swings could help this child learn basic concepts of physics ? That would be the perfect way to overcome the worries of  parents and children. The Centre for Science in Society (C-SiS), CUSAT has a great summer programme each year meant for school students from 4th std and above.  The Midsummer Science Talent and Total Capacity Development Programmes (STDP) invite children to explore the world of science, beyond their textbooks.

“We have a one month programme, which is conducted in two editions. The first is in April, meant for State Board schools and the second edition in May, meant for Central Schools. The students are divided into two batches, the junior from  4th to 6th standard and the senior from 7th to 9th standard,”  informs Dr.Bhasi, Director (C-SiS)

The C-SiS is equipped with impressive facilities for the children to lay their hands on. Starting from the ground to outer space, children get a taste of different fields of science. 

•          Science Park and science pavilion

•          Herbal garden

•          Butterfly garden

•          Labs for Maths,Physics,Chemistry and Biology

•          Computer/IT and Electronics lab

•          Children’s science library

•          IEEE and ISRO Pavilions

•          Astronomical telescope

What makes the summer programme successful is the lack of forced compulsion the children come here out of their own will, which ensures that they have the motivation to participate wholeheartedly. There are children who wish to come every year for the summer programme. Another aspect of the programme which makes it a hit among kids, is the teaching method and learning method adopted here.  there are no exams, which means there is no pressure for them to perform. The children can learn to infer, instead of just using their brains  to store information. "This is a place for thinking, that is what we try to encourage here and the children enjoy it very much," declares Dr. Bhasi.

Bridging the gap in teaching science

“We want an updated syllabus, and updating always means adding on the top and not removing from the bottom. This leads to over loading as the time available for learning is the same. So teachers have to opt for the easy method; giving notes and only teaching theory. Rote learning is encouraged. When subjects like science and maths are taught like this, there will be no interest among the students to learn. The importance of thinking is not encouraged,”  explains Dr. Bhasi, who also teaches as a professor at School of Management Studies, CUSAT.

At the summer programme the students get to interact with scientific models to learn certain principles. It is a more illustrative method where the main aim is to broaden the way children think and learn about scientific concepts. So the children go back home not just with a better understanding of concepts, they also ‘learn to learn’ science in a new and better way, which helps them when they go back to school.  As an example, the children learn about algebra using geometry models in the mathematics lab. “We have been doing this even before Byju’s App !” remarks Dr. Bhasi gleefully.

“We have puppet shows, magic shows, just to expose the children to different activities and professions. So the programme is not just about science. Cooking is taught to children in a way where they are taught the science behind it, so then they don’t feel that it is a menial job. Every day one batch is incharge of cooking snacks for the other batches,” mentions Dr. Bhasi.

Admissions are open for this year’s Science Talent and Total Capacity Development Programmes (STDP). 

Supriya Deepak

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