Making science interesting for first generation learners

Bhim Nagar is a slum inside Maharashtra Nagar of Mumbai. TISS in collaboration with locals runs a community centre there. Children from first grade to tenth grade come to the community centre. Most of them are first time learners, and drop out rate is very high among these children. TISS survey showed that two most important reasons for the drop out are- 1) Economic, 2) Lack of interest in school education. Community centre is trying to solve these two issues. Today’s microscopy session was to make school education, specially science, interesting. 

Children were told that in today’s workshop you’ll learn about jarasim (microorganisms) which are everywhere. That may have caught their attention, as so many children came that the room got full and some of the younger children had to be sent to another room. Workshop started with discussion on microscopy and slowly it moved towards microorganisms. Children knew little bit about these things but they had never seen a living microorganisms before. So too see a living microorganisms we collect the sewage water from outside the centre and observed under foldscope. Children were suprised to see that so many things are there in a drop of water. Even the adults in the community came to see it.

Once children understood what a microscope is and what kind of things can be seen under it, they had a list of things they wanted to see under the foldscope. For starting most of them wanted to see how there hand looks. They wanted to see what does hai look like and how does a hair flee looks like. Some of them wasted to see blood. Many of said they can use foldscope to see if the food items they eat has microorganisms.

They also learnt to make foldscope and observe samples under it. Community centre note has one foldscope which children will share.

Session ended with lot of discussion about science.

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