Make, Understand, Excel
In 2015, the Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the National Skilling Mission on the occasion of the World Skills Day. Recognizing that India needed a skilled work force to be able to benefit from the advantages of demographics, attempts are being made to improve skilling by better coordination and convergence of efforts. Many important projects have been launched in this effort and laudable successes have been achieved. These efforts have concentrated on students in high school (class 9 and above) and colleges.
The National Education Framework also lays emphasis on practical work, especially in the sciences. For a long time, practical work in India has been confined to either watching demonstrations of experiments being performed by the teacher or in learning to carry out detailed instructions given by a teacher. The idea of learning science by exploration is rarely found in Indian curricula.
Indian education also lays very little emphasis on translating learning from theory to practical use. The theorems of geometry and trigonometry remain abstract concepts, with little connection with real life. A student learns about image formation by a convex lens, including the fact that the image of a distant object is real and inverted but is amazed when she holds a lens camera in her hand and observes that the image is inverted!
For many years, Zeal Education has been designing models in science and maths and teaching students and teachers how to make, use and understand them. Model making has several advantages:
- Model making involves the application of several skills like
- Measurement with emphasis on accuracy
- Ability to read a machine drawing and translating the same to an actual model
- Making scale models and converting a given model to a different size
- 3d visualization
- Ability to follow instructions exactly
- Cutting and pasting/assembling
- Recognizing why certain materials are preferred over others in specific models
- Learning the use of simple tools like scales, protractors, paper cutters, punches, etc.
- Making models and learning how they work leads to a better understanding of the principles of science and maths. For example, when a student makes a simple two-way switch and understands how it works, she understands the principles of simple circuits better.
- Making models prompts questioning from students. A student who makes a kaleidoscope with 3 mirrors wonders what would happen if 4 mirrors are used. A student who makes binary cards for numbers from 1 to 31 wonders how to make them for numbers from 1 to 63! This spirit of enquiry lies at the foundation of doing science and mathematics!
- Making models provides students with a sense of achievement. Models are taken home and proudly displayed to friends and relatives!
- Making models and learning from them leads to a different perspective on science and maths, as interesting subjects worth learning, rather than subjects to be cleared for an examination!
- Making models involves exploring intelligences not commonly explored in school education, including kinesthetic and inter-personal intelligences.
The salient features of the proposal are:
- Zeal Education would provide a kit containing material for making a total of 75 models.
- Each model would be made by two students working together. This would facilitate peer learning between them.
- The models would be from science, maths, geography and allied subjects.
- Students from each of the three target classes (classes 6, 7 and 8) will meet at regular intervals to make the models (40 sessions of 40 minutes each).
- These models would fall into three categories: easy, medium and hard, appropriate for class 6, 7 and 8 respectively.
- The division into categories is made on criteria like the kind of materials used, difficulty of cutting and making the model, modeling skills required, etc.
- Each model would be accompanied by a worksheet in the local language. In addition, teachers would be trained to guide students in making the model. Teachers would be expected to change the level and details of guidance depending on the age and skills of the students.
- Each session will involve:
- Understanding and mastering the skills needed for making the model (e.g., learning how to use a paper cutter, learning how to make precise measurements, learning how to transfer a drawing to a given material),
- Making the actual model and
- Understanding the science and maths behind it.
- At the end of the year, students would exhibit the models that have been made by them. Students would be expected to develop the ability to explain all that they have learnt to others during this exhibition.