Attractive vans carrying hundreds of hands-on science models travel right to the doorstep of a remote, rural school.The demonstration that follows reveals a little known secret… that learning can be fun.
The road seldom taken
Imagine this. A brightly coloured Agastya van bumps over the dusty unpaved road leading to a rural village. The arrival of the van at the local Higher Primary school is greeted with joy by both children and teachers. The children watch with astonishment as the instructor unloads scientific experiments and models and sets up a mini mobile lab at the school. The Agastya instructors teach scientific concepts through simple and innovative experiments. The sessions emphasize observation, interaction and fearless questioning. While most experiments use materials that are commonly available, the lab also has complete working models of the entire solar system. Children of different age groups learn about astral bodies, rotation and revolution, effect of gravitation eclipses and how the brain deciphers signals through models, exhibits and experiments developed by Agastya. Revisiting each rural school several times during the school year, the Agastya Mobile Labs are a ray of fresh insight and inspiration to children and teachers.
Science on Wheels
The Foundation started with one mobile lab in 1999. Christened “Science on Wheels”, the lab, sponsored by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization), visited rural schools around Agastya’s campus at Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh. Agastya mobile labs are a powerful and innovative instrument to revolutionize rural education and have caught the imagination of children, teachers, community members, governments and institutions in India and abroad. The mobile lab’s flexibility and versatility, it’s low cost and high reach allow it to reach remote areas and act as a catalyst for change.
Making Learning Fun! Useful! Accessible!
The mobile labs fill a major education gap. Rural schools that lack labs and interactive hands-on learning are exposed to the “fun of learning hands-on”,spurring them to embrace new learning methods. Agastya has also launched “Ecology on Wheels”, “Math on Wheels” and “Art on Wheels” that incorporate similar and much needed qualities of hands-on and interactive learning promoting children to tinker, explore and innovate.
A new inroad everyday
In 2008, the Prime Minister’s National Knowledge Commission recommended the Agastya Model for nationwide scale-up. Today, Agastya operates more than 50 mobile labs in several states of India.
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