Just Do it!

Just Do it!

Every major scientific innovation can be attributed to imagination. And science experiments need not be restricted to laboratories. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Science does not know its debt to imagination." With a little imagination and observation, one can experiment and explore anywhere.

Besides preparing their students for good grades in exams, effective science teachers also develop students’ scientific bent and imagination capabilities. This was the essence of a two-day workshop science teachers and students conducted by eminent scientist, science activist and educator Samar Bagchi who was in the city last week. The workshop was held at the Shiv Samarth Vidyalaya, near Rangayatan. While the first day was exclusively for science teachers, the second day saw both students and teachers participating. 90 teachers and 200 students from 12 schools from across the district participated in the workshop.

Last month we had written about Children’s Science Movement initiated by Prof. VG Bhide from Pune and how a few teachers from city schools had visited Pune to learn better ways of imparting science education. Bagchi’s workshop was also part of the Children’s Science Movement, organised in Thane by Jidnyasa Trust.

The objective of the workshop was to expose school science teachers to the various aspects of science and technology for better understanding and building scientific disposition. Bagchi emphasised the urgent importance of teaching science the practical way in order to make students more inquisitive, besides developing their mind at an early age. In his opinion, mere theoretical concepts do not do justice to a subject such as science which offers with never-ending possibilities to a scientist.

At one instance, Bagchi used the traditional glass water experiment – that of turning the glass upside down without spilling the water. He used a cardboard like material that is a little bigger than the opening of the glass and placed it over the top of the glass and carefully turned the glass upside down. The water stayed inside. Then he released the cardboard but it still stuck to the glass, holding in the water. Surprisingly, when he asked teachers to explain the phenomenon, they could not come up with a convincing explanation.

The senior scientist stressed on the importance of demonstrations and strongly advised against dependence on bookish knowledge alone. In fact, both teachers and students seemed pretty impressed with the lucid way he taught certain astronomical concepts – the why’s, what’s and how’s of movement of planets, their orbits and their relationship with Earth. He also employed interactive games and puzzles to teach some mathematical concepts and suggested to teachers that they too must employ innovative methods of teaching.

Being aware that many schools lacked basic infrastructure like laboratory equipment, Bagchi urged students to try carrying out experiments at home using everyday items. In other words, he suggested the use of imagination and urged the students to just do it.

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